1. Your drinking game of choice was Kings.
Casual drinking normally meant crowding into the 5’x7’ shoebox of a bedroom in whoever had the biggest apartment, or whoever’s parents were not around at that time. Basically, space for beer pong or flip cup was non-existent, so smaller and easier games namely Kings, Spin the Bottle, of Never Have I Ever, usually sufficed.
2. Drinking anywhere outside of New York is a huge pain in the ass.
In places like South Caroline, we groan and gripe. This is where the liquor stores are completely closed on Sundays, or London, when the pubs do a las call at 10:50pm. These little foibles make no sense to us, especially because anywhere outside of New York, alcohol is so much cheaper. We’re spoiled with bars that close at 4am, or don’t close at all. So this makes our expectations super high once we leave the metro area.
3. You collected body stamps.
Based on the red ink stamp or black permanent marker X on the top of your hand, everyone always knew where you had been the night before. Normally, a blue smiley face meant you were are a dive bar some on Avenue A. while a neon yellow wristband showed you were dancing around at a gay bar in Chelsea. Eventually you found places like Pacha where stamps were doled out to anyone who looked hot, young, and stupid enough to spend money to be amongst other hot, young, stupid people who did not mind the amateur DJ of the week.
4. Your bodega salesman had your back.
When you put a case of Natty Light on the counter, Amir jokingly wagged his finger at you, but as one of his best customers, he always let it slide. Selling alcohol to minors is nothing new in NYC. Even though it’s completely illegal and somewhat dangerous, it is hard to raise a fuss when almost 75% of the borough bodegas participate in this practice. We considered it a contribution to the astronomically-priced rent encroaching upon anything north of 80th Street.
5. You RSVP’d to every Bar Mitzvah, Quinceañera, and Sweet 16.
These parties were full-blown catered affaires at places namely Villa Russo, or Giando on the Water. These result in pitchers of soda for the kids and an open bar for the mature adults. If you couldn’t get a fun drunk aunty to pass around some Jack and Cokes, you had an emergency flask on hand to make your own. It made the dry chicken fricassee taste so much better and loosened you up for doing the Electric Slide.
6. You had a fake ID at age 14.
Kids from around the area come to New York City specifically to purchase false identification. You knew which sketch “10-cent Copies” centres made the best scannable cards. As long as you were with some other teenagers, being led to a secret door at the back of the store was a rite of passage. To get a discount, all you needed was four IDs or more.
7. You made it a mission to score free drinks.
$12 cab fares, $15 cover charges, and $8 cocktails add up. You worked you whiles as much as you could so as to get free drinks from friends or even strangers. Surely, it was slutty, but it saved you precious cash that went towards buying MAC cosmetics, new heels and club-wear.
8. House parties were like, next-level.
Unless you made friends with a trust-fund Dalton kid, movie-style drinking parties were almost exclusively held away from home. But very often, someone would rent a beach house for a week and invite all of the neighbourhood families to join them. Those few times when you made it out to a party in Flushing, Marine Park, or a cousin’s place on Long Island, where someone had an actual backyard which held quite a number of people, seemed like a dream.
9. You tried drugs before everyone else.
When the excitement of underage drinking ran out at approximately 16 years of age, you ended up experimenting with drugs. Most of it was innocent, but scoring angel dust, ecstasy, crack, and other drugs were never difficult. Someone’s mom always had some cocaine so as “to make it through the day,” and if anyone ever asked, you could tell them all the details of where and how much to buy heroin from. Some of your friends became drug addicts, but most of the time it was an, “I’ll try anything once” situation that was overrated anyway.
10. The night always ended with drunk food.
A $1 slice of pizza, disco fries, or pancakes at the diner, falafel from a guy who shaved meat for a living, a ginormous pastrami sandwich from Katz’s Deli, a hot dog that snapped when you bit it from Gray’s Papaya. On the other hand, if you were really drunk, something off of the Dollar Menu at McDonalds, was a must when the booze got to be too much for you to handle. Sitting in Washington Square Park at 2am, you didn’t care about how terrible the Styrofoam container holding your chicken and rice with white sauce was for the environment. You were just so hungry.
11. Pre-gaming was the game.
Since alcohol is very expensive in the city, the easiest thing was to gather all at someone’s apartment and make uneven mixes of your favourite cocktails, or fill water bottles with straight-up vodka and wander the streets looking for celebrity parties to crash. Even if you did end up at a bar after midnight or something, you usually split drinks with your friends before complaining about being “tired” aka too poor to buy another drink.
12. There was always someone around to buy booze for you.
It was never really an issue finding someone older so as to purchase your liquor. There was always Enrico, the pothead down the hall, or Dejah, your best friend’s older sister who just graduated from college. Rich kids had their nannies, maids or the doorman. You always had a “go-to” booze buyer in our corner of the city.