Originally Posted by Drazer
In the UK, drinking has gotten to the point where it's part of the countries culture . It doesn't suprise me drink features in the books.
Has gotten? When was it not? The English Pub tradition dates back to the Middle Ages! It is a very European thing, really.
As for the wizards seeming "liberal," they actually are conservative in the sense that traditionally there were no drinking laws. Children drank weak ales and watered wines, but because water was generally toxic, everything that people drank had to have some alcohol in it. The wizarding standards seem to be early 20th century on this score.
(It doubles for The Hobbit, too!)
“If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there.” - A. P. Chekhov, Gurlyand's Reminiscences, and who knew why the Dog was long before the Shack!