In London in 1750 the gin shop signs used to announce that you could get “drunk for a penny, dead drunk for tuppence.” In Sydney in 1946, due to the tempo of drinking, you can get drunk on four pots, dead drunk on five.
Although NSW can hold its liquor as well as any country in the world it can’t take it at the speed it is being dished out in the City of Sydney’s hotels. Factors militating against a sober Sydney all involve time: — The queue at the bar must drink pot for pot with the quickest drinker or lose out in the scramble for a fair proportion of the available beer. You can make yourself ill drinking even milk at a rapid rate. You don’t give yourself much of a chance to get home on steady legs if you try it with an alcohol-charged beverage.
There aren’t any tables where you can sit and space your drinks as they do in the beer gardens of Germany, the boulevard cafes of France, or the inns of England.
Invercargill (NZ) proved it when its Licencing Trust opened the famous Brown Owl Restaurant, sat the drinkers down with their wives and families.
“The effects of alcohol can be much more easily controlled when taken in mixed company,” the Trust reported after a year’s operations, denied that there were any ill effects from children attending. But when all is said and done, people will not sit down until they are relieved of the menace of the clock by licensing hours which enable them, as in England, to linger awhile in the pubs during their leisure time.
In the unenlightened days of 1750, when the London gin shop proprietors announced that you could get drunk for a penny and dead drunk for tuppence, their signs added “clean straw for nothing” — a tacit recognition of responsibility for the drunk during his incapacitation. But in Sydney the publican clears the bar at six, leaving his unsteady guests to reel into the Sydney traffic at the peak hour.
If the rush system of drinking in NSW is to be perpetuated, at least the Sydney publican should be made to provide straw.
– Sydney Sun February 11 1946.