While French aristocrat Marie Antoinette was famously misquoted as saying “let them eat cake” in 1789, millionaire Tim Gurner was correctly quoted in 2017 when he said millennials will never be able to afford their own home, “When they are spending $40 a day on smashed avocados and coffees.” (The Guardian).
While conservative commentators and politicians had been echoing this sentiment for years, Gurner’s smug remark was the final straw, with Smashed Avo On Toast soon becoming the symbol of millennial résistance against the patronising comments of myopic baby-boomers (and rich Yuppies like Gurner).
With that, I all agree. But there’s a more pernicious reason for millennials not to own property—what they do with it. Far scarier than Boomers selling off our environmental assets to offshore companies and taking several hours to read a breakfast menu (held at arm’s length, squinting through their spouse’s glasses) is the incendiary ways millennials use the pieces of land they actually get a hold of.
As reported earlier this week by the BBC, “A pub without alcohol is something of an oxymoron – but they’re growing in popularity.” The stalwart British Broadcaster then cited Getaway, a stylish bar in Brooklyn, which—at first glance—is like any other “Instagram-friendly” cocktail spot in New York.
“The walls are tasteful green and blue, the space feels cosy enough that you could easily join a neighbouring conversation, and the menu features a list of $13 (£10) cocktails with ingredients like tobacco syrup, lingonberry and jalapeno puree.”
But, as the BBC reports, “There is a crucial difference between Getaway and other Brooklyn bars: Getaway is totally alcohol-free… like an aquarium without fish or a bakery that doesn’t serve bread.”
When you get the BBC riled up you know you’ve done well (or you’re a millennial). But wait: there’s more.
“In cities like New York and London, where bars often function as second living rooms for apartment dwellers with little space, an alcohol-free nightlife option can appeal to people who, for whatever reason, would prefer not to drink.”
“Getaway, which opened in April,” the report continues, “Is part of a growing global wave of nightspots that specifically cater to people who are avoiding alcohol, but still want to go out and socialise in spaces that have traditionally been dominated by drinking.”
Part of a movement in which urban millennials reconsider the place of alcohol in their lives, there is, admittedly, some health benefit to socialising without getting absolutely Espresso Martini-ed.
But it’s also a middle finger in the face of America’s proud history of getting twisted. And much like brunch has become a convenient scapegoat for structural inequality, drinking has become a convenient scapegoat for the rest of society’s ills—when the problem is clearly Crossfit.