It is not known exactly when the trend of possessing a designated pair of drinking boots began but it may be presumed to have gathered impetus in Ireland as a result of the relatively recent economic growth. Some experts have suggested that with more disposable income in their pockets, young people have more cash to spend on novelty footwear.
Its increasing popularity may also be attributed to the recent surge in excessive alcohol consumption (or ‘binge-drinking’ as it called among drinking habit survey enthusiasts) among the younger generations. As drinking is seen as a hobby by many of these youths, it may be that sporting a pair of boots specific to their hobby may give them a certain attachment thereto or perhaps might lend a degree of legitimacy to what might otherwise be seen as an anti-social or unfavourable activity.
Joe Sewer, founding member of BBBO (Bord na mBróg ’s na mBútaisí Olachán) and proud owner of a pair of drinking boots, has been quoted as saying, “Well, when you go bowlin’, you get a pair of bowlin’ shoes, when you tap-dance, you get a pair of tap-dancing’ shoes... so why not invest in a decent pair o’ drinkin’ boots for when you go drinkin’? It makes sense, ya know?”
The term ‘Drinking Boots’ can refer not only to the actual boots one might wear when embarking upon a drinking session but it may also be used in the metaphorical sense. Take the following hypothetical conversation for example:
Drinker A: “We’re goin’ out for a few beers, Dave. Alright?” Drinker B: “Right so then, Seamus, better get my drinking boots on, ay?!”
While Drinker B could be referring to an actual pair of boots he uses while drinking, it is more likely that he is being humorous and implying that he should psyche himself up or perhaps prepare himself mentally for what could be quite an epic drinking rampage. This type of usage of the phrase would normally be the preserve of the uninitiated novices whose interest in the ‘drinking boots’ scene would be of a passive, or even a facetious, nature. While not looked down upon as such by serious ‘drinking booters’, this type of usage is not actively encouraged.
Never eat your boots no matter how great the temptation.
However, when one is referring to an actual pair of boots used primarily, or indeed exclusively (depending on the dedication of the drinking boots proprietor), while drinking, the conversation might proceed as follows.
Drinker A: “Howya, Dave, we’re goin’ for a few beers. Alright?” Drinker B: “Sounds good, Seamus. Hold on a few minutes. I’ve got to run upstairs and change into my drinking boots.”