In the Drink 

Did Sept. 11 send Americans running to the nearest bar?

How did you react to the events of Sept. 11? Maybe you sent away to the Franklin Mint for one of those Statue of Liberty holographic commemorative coins. Or maybe you used white shoe polish to paint "Smoke 'em out!" on the rear window of your pickup. Many Americans, reports the New York Times, simply caught the A-train to the nearest watering hole. After a brief period of mourning, the tipplers came out in force. They're knocking back more drinks per person than before the attacks -- and we're talking about rotgut firewater, not umbrella cocktails. Hey, why worry about the state of your liver when the world is collapsing around you?

The three local bartenders we spoke with agree that business has picked up during the last few months, but they say it's hard to tell whether the debauchery has been prompted by escapism or by the holiday spirit. "There was a decrease in dining after Sept. 11, but not a decrease in drinking," observes Matt McMullin, a barkeep at Tangerine. "And people are getting a little more hammered than before." Scott LeCorgne, who works behind the stick at the St. Louis Brewery & Tap Room, says he's noticed a larger happy-hour crowd and more groups than usual. Shortly after the attacks, LeCorgne recalls, customers at every table were talking about the tragedy. "We added a couple of news channels on satellite, and people were glued to the coverage," he says. "That lasted three or four weeks, and now they want to watch sports again. But I'm sure we'd turn the news back on if we had bin Laden in hand." And all of America would drink to that.

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