The thing about alcohol is that it’s almost always something other than itself, not just a drink but a concept, or an identity, or a wish. “Let’s get drinks” is a shorthand for social interaction and one that I still find myself saying to casual acquaintances (or did before the pandemic). “I need a drink,” is a way of expressing exhaustion; “you need a drink,” is a way of relating to the exhaustion of others. Booze stands in for flirtation, and adulthood, and rebellion, a bad day or a good one, the permissive shimmer of a house party and the purring engine of a wild night. It stands in for comfort, and kindness, and good taste, and sex, and sympathy, and snobbery, and friendship, and celebration.