Apr 15, 2024

The Social Implications of Expensive Shots in Dublin

Ella Parry discusses the exorbitant costs of the tiny glasses of liquid courage and their consequences

Ella ParryFood and Drink Editor

As this is the last issue of the year, I have been doing some reflecting. As food and drink editor, I must admit that I have failed spectacularly in one realm: drink! Where has the drink been? As a parting gift, I thought I’d put the social studies in BESS and let you in on one of my more obvious observations that I love so much. 

Most of us students have been to a few other cities across Europe. One thing that struck me when I first began frequenting pubs in Dublin was how expensive shots are. Of course, for policy reasons alcohol served in Ireland tends to be significantly more expensive compared to the European median price anyway. However, I do find it striking how high the shot-to-drink price ratio is. Shot prices often surpass the expense of an average pint which is strikingly different compared to countries such as Germany and Spain. In Dublin, shots are priced as if they were concocted by the legendary potion-maker Getafix himself. With these shot prices, the age-old tradition of buying a round for your friends takes on a whole new meaning, bringing tears to your eyes when swiping your card. As a student, purchasing shots is financially reckless. 

While some may argue that this pricing increases the likelihood of you remembering where you left your jacket at the end of the night, I’d like to point out that disincentivising the purchase of shots through this pricing scheme is highly socially divisive. Gone are the days of casually offering to buy someone a shot as an icebreaker – now, you’re stuck awkwardly negotiating the terms of your generosity. “I’d love to buy you a drink, but can we discuss instalment plans first?”


The social value of shots

A shot is bought and downed within a minute – one might call it the liquid equivalent of a speed date. It can be a great icebreaker, a conversation starter, a bonding experience with friends or even strangers. They’re the embodiment of the cool girl – a swift, adrenaline-fueled affair.

The pint proposal

So what are the alternatives when shots are priced as if they were luxury products? You might say “Oh surely just buy them a pint”. Aha! You might think the solution were that easy. However, you’d seem to be blissfully unaware of the social implications of such a transaction. Buying someone a pint is a whole different ball game. Buying someone a drink is not only a monetary commitment, but a time commitment too. It is a tacit agreement to converse for an unspecified, but definitely lengthy, period of time. You wouldn’t believe how long it takes some people to drink a Guinness. Unless you know them reasonably well, buying someone a pint says: “Hi, lovely to meet you. I’ve been pining after you for months and have picked our baby names.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Maybe I’m somewhat jealous of the boldness required for such a move.

So what does all of this mean? I don’t know. It honestly just showcases that I should be investing more of my brainpower into my degree. Personally, I don’t even mind the move away from shots at all as I don’t really like them. I welcome the budget constraint as a commonly understood reason for not partaking in said activity. While I’m stirring the pot: Maybe the disgraceful shot pricing is a secret government policy trying to incentivise commitment over short-term gratification. Someone should run a regression on that. 


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