My fellow inebriates,
Since the pandemic struck, we have been drinking almost every day. This puts us among the 18% of Canadians who report they’ve been indulging more often.
COVID-19 seems like a great reason to drink more. We’re not going anywhere (no driving). Alcohol has been declared essential by the BC government (yes!). So, come about 8:00 pm each evening, my parents and I will unwind with a glass of whisk(e)y. As we sip and work our way through reruns of Battlestar Galactica, and I’ve started to associate Canadian Club Classic 12 with Cylons.
In the before-times, we probably would have abstained on a weekday and then busted out on Friday/Saturday (not one glass but several). But we no longer socialize—meaning Friday/Saturday are just like regular days.
Effectively, we’ve spread the half a dozen drinks that would formerly have been consumed between Friday and Saturday over a seven-day stretch.
I wondered if this was the case for other Canadians. Are they drinking more often, but in lower quantities?
Not according to Statistics Canada. In pre-pandemic times, 11% of Canadians reported consuming five or more drinks at a time on the days they consumed alcohol. During COVID, it’s 18%.
I figured my mum would be a candidate for this kind of behaviour. Pre-COVID, she’d be up for consuming an entire bottle of wine in an evening. But now… a wee dram, Cylons, then bedtime.
I’m conflicted about this. Over the years I’ve been a huge proponent of binge drinking. [Insert disclaimers: I’m a bear, bears are stupid, we don’t even have opposable thumbs, etc.] But I kind of like this daily sipping behaviour too. I feel like I’m calming down a bit about drinking. I don’t have to wait till Friday to have a drink. I’m sometimes sad that no one comes over and a party never breaks out, but hey, those weekend parties sometimes led to douchebaggery of the kind my parents should have aged out of long ago.
So, what do other Canadians say about their drinking?
They’re bored. Over 60% are casting about for things to do, so why not have a drink?
They’re stressed. Over 57% have extra anxiety thanks to COVID. We know what that’s like. The kids are home climbing the walls. My parents’ work has increased, not decreased. They’re doing Zoom calls all day, freaking out about deadlines while coping with guilt at their failure with home schooling. Plus, my dad actually had COVID! I’ll tell you all about that in a later post.
Alcohol is convenient. In fact, there’s some on the kitchen counter right now. About 52% of Canadians are finding themselves in close proximity to alcohol. There it is, and they have nowhere they need to drive. No reason not to put some Bailey’s in the morning coffee and then hit that Zoom meeting.
Loneliness. You’d think you couldn’t get lonely, stuffed into a house together for over a year. But at LBHQ we’re lucky to have each other. Many Canadians live at home and are missing human contact. Almost 37% say loneliness makes them reach for the bottle.
Insomnia. This one is huge at our house. In the before-times, 5:00 am was gym time. Now there’s no gym (at least, no thank you to the gym, where people are panting away without a mask on the cardio machines). We get up later. We go to bed later. And there was no exhausting commute to tire us out. We may even have slacked off work a bit. No wonder we’re wide awake at 11:00 pm.
According to Nanos Research, lack of a regular schedule is a big factor. Another reason is cooking at home. And some people report they are just lucky to have a lot of alcohol in the house.
What about Canadians who’ve decreased their drinking?
Nanos says 61% of Canadians now lack opportunities to gather and socialize. Considering we’re supposed to be in a flat-out fucking lock-down, this number should be more like 100%, but it makes sense the fact that all we have to do is look out the window and see 10 neighbours partying on their front lawn. The next biggest reason Nanos gives for decreased drinking is a desire to maintain good health lest the virus attacks (36%). Other reasons include running out of alcohol, caring for dependents, and being too busy.
It’s one thing to read surveys and self-reports about alcohol consumption during COVID. But what do the liquor sales statistics tell us?
For one thing, it wasn’t just toilet paper we were panicking over. Check out the spikes in liquor sales at both private and government liquor stores last year.
Here’s a comparison of retail sales of beer, wine and liquor in Canada.
COVID kiboshed our annual Gin Shoot-Out last year. Instead of buying half a dozen bottles for guests to sample, we bought one big bottle of Gordon’s, and there’s still a third of it left.
Wine has a social association for us. No guests = no wine, except on holidays, and even then we’ve been moderate. In a couple of cases, my parents didn’t even finish a bottle they opened; they ended up cooking with it (criminal).
Liqueurs mean Christmas and a house full of people. That didn’t happen this year, hence no liqueurs. A small bottle of Bailey’s is languishing in the fridge. (I think it keeps forever?)
Dad’s beer consumption is moderate, and Mum stopped drinking it altogether.
Stratospherically up. Rye and Irish whiskey have become the wee dram of choice around here.
If you’re not exhausted by this round-up of statistics and the personal drinking habits of my boring parents, you may want to know a bit about Canadian Club Classic 12.
For starters, it’s $27.49 and often goes on sale (for instance, it’s $26.09, so we should probably gallop to the liquor store). You know how I and Don Draper feel about Canadian Club proper (10:00 am siren call), but Classic 12 is different. It’s more substantial, with a superior mouthfeel and longer finish. Notes are firm and heady—lots of caramel with some mellow fruit and a hint of spice and a wood finish. If you’ve been drinking Canadian Club and then switch to Classic 12, it’ll feel like you’re being clobbered over the head, but in a nice way. It’s an affordable bottle for anyone hunkering down during COVID, and fully suitable for a Battlestar Galactica binge. (Have you noticed how much they drink on that show?)