Saying that you’d really like to grab a drink with someone is a real compliment. It’s the ultimate way of saying that you’ve decided that being with them is better than watching TV, alone. There is no higher form of praise. Of course, pontificating about who you’d ideally like to hang around with in a bar isn’t about the alcohol - it’s all about the company. Drinking is just a means to an end.
Hypothetical chats about who we’d like to share a beer with have been helping us avoid awkward gaps in conversation since we first knew became aware of booze and celebrity. However, thanks to pioneering and slightly pointless research from beer industry trade group “The Beer Institute” we now know who it is that, if Americans had one collective wish, they would most like to knock back a few frosty ones with. The name that cropped up time and again was, unsurprisingly, comedian, actress and bona fide national treasure Betty White.
According to the study, which asked around 1,200 Americans to name their drinking buddy of choice, White was the runaway winner, smashing the rest of the competition aside. From a list of heavy-weight “contemporary celebrities”, White won a whopping 19% of the vote, beating the likes of Bill Gates, Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, Alex Trebek, Bruce Springsteen, LeBron James, J.K. Rowling, Beyoncé, Serena Williams, and Kim Kardashian in the process. She even beat out an alternative category, allowing those polled to nominate any other famous figure on the planet.
After the results were announced, Jim McGreevy, President and CEO of the Beer Institute, was magnanimous in his assessment. Speaking at the release, McGreevy said, “America has spoken, and they’ve said ‘thank you for being a friend’ to Golden Girl Betty White by selecting her as a celebrity they would want to sit down with over a beer.” He went on to add that, “Beer brings people together, and on this National Beer Day we toast Betty White, who has entertained multiple generations of Americans with her impeccable comedic timing and enduring charm.”
White wasn’t the only recipient of an alcohol related accolade. In a separate survey, the Beer Institute also asked drinkers to nominate their choice of beer buddies from a list of “any of the following notable people from history.” With an unassailable 21% share of the vote, Martin Luther King Jr left the rest of the field for dead, fending off challenges from Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Cash, Mark Twain, Steve Jobs, Muhammad Ali, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Babe Ruth, Eleanor Roosevelt, Aretha Franklin, and Ernest Hemingway in the process.
With two such definitive results, it’s clear that the Beer Institute have set themselves up for a titanic showdown. White vs MLK in a tussle over America’s social drinking crown promises to be a fight for the ages. Like all epic contests, a lot of organisation will be required to get these two in the ring. We will have to wait and see whether the Beer Institute are as eager to find out the result as the rest of us.