Have 20-somethings Destroyed the Great British Drinking Culture?

By Ashley Manning | Thursday 5th October, 2017

For those who came of age in the 90’s, society was experiencing a massive revolt. Jobs were hard to come by, the police were public enemy number one and people had lost their general sense of purpose. With the likes of Oasis and The Verve setting examples of how to behave, the British youth began to live unapologetically, glazing over their problems and frustrations with alcohol and drugs.


But as time has progressed, the millennial generation has caused a gradual transition out of the inebriated existence that their forefathers left them to enjoy. Nowadays, a trip to the pub isn’t necessarily the communal place to set the world to rights and the hair of the dog remains, in its most literal sense, just the hair of some dog…

Having already been accused of propelling avocados into extinction, 20-somethings are also being held accountable for the decline in alcohol sales and, to some degree, the extinction of the great British pub. But how true is this?

According to recent government statistics there has been a gradual decrease in people going out to get completely shit faced. With only 56.9% (or 29 million) of the British public claiming to actually drink, one would assume we’d all become t-total. Well… we fucking have not.


Young people today haven’t destroyed drinking culture, they’ve instead allowed it to evolve. Of that 29 million, 7.8 million binge drink. So yeah, we may not drink every day of the week and we may not have a drop of whiskey to help us sleep, but when we do drink, we really go for it. Men, overall, are more likely to drink regularly, but young women aged 18-24 are statistically more likely to binge.

But we don’t want to live in a perpetual state of being hungover anymore and the term ‘going out’ is broadening in its definition. Going ‘out-out’ used to mean drinking till you blacked out and waking up in a stranger’s house unable to locate your phone/ wallet/ a shoe. If you had a bad day in the office, you’d head to the local and sink a few. But things have changed. More people are heading to festivals and food experiences with people even willing to forgo the old boozer if it means they will be able to afford more of these experiences.

On average, 20-somethings spent 840 hours in venues and festivals in the past 12 months and now head to bars and restaurants only 2-3 times per month.


But why?

This change has occurred because of a gradual shift in values and also because we are all really bloody skint. The three main reasons behind it are:

Commitment to Wellness

For the first time, in a very long time, we are conscious of our health. Less people are smoking and more people are buying Ivy Park athleisure-wear to ‘jog’ around the block. We choose green juices over apple sours and veganism over kebabs. It feels good to wake up and not have vomited all over yourself and to be able to look at your phone and see that you didn’t drunk text your ex. And we are also more mindful of our mental health. We’d rather face our problems head on than drink them away and that depressive, anxious feeling that comes with the hangover has stopped being worth it.

Our need to bond

In Eventbrite’s recent survey, participants said that they enjoy going to festivals, food experiences and day parties because it makes them feel connected. They want to make memories with the people around them, bonding with like-minded groups. In fact 84% even said that they’d switch off their phone to enjoy these moments rather than disconnecting from them in a bid to share them on social media. 20-somethings want to be able to remember the night before and getting annihilated compromises that.



If we could afford it, we would be going out more. You’d be hard-pressed to find a drink costing less than £4 and a night out can be in excess of £30 including taxis and food. Waking up the next morning, assessing your bank balance and knowing you’ll be living off soup for the next week is rubbish. It seems to be the common thought that we’d rather have several festivals, dinners or cinema trips in a month than blow all of our money on a night out.
(If you’re looking for tips on how to budget so you can afford more nights out check out our guide and feature or if you’re wondering how Loot can help then check this out.)

So, the fact of the matter, is that 20-somethings haven't destroyed the notorious drinking culture because let's be honest, you'll still find a lot of us falling out of clubs at the weekend. But we have different values now and if alcohol isn't helping us to align with them, we'll happily do without.

Pint anyone?