Yes, these are your formative years, the time when you select which of life's two paths you will pursue: Shall you spend the rest of your days as a teetotalling, tight-assed bore? Or shall you grow up to be a carousin', marrow-suckin', day-siezin', bar-fightin', lyin', gamblin', pukin', possibly heroic (but probably delusional), degenerate drunk?
Good. You have chosen wisely, rummy. Here are some things you'll need to know about drinking the right way—drinking in a way that won't interfere with your schoolwork, your finances, or your relationships (hey, sometimes drinking helps!).
• Eat first. Drinking on an empty stomach never ends well. I don't mean "it mostly never ends well," or "it doesn't end well a lot of the time." I mean never, unless barfing and a 36-hour hangover is your idea of fun.
• You're broke. Drink cheap. Acceptable cheap drinks choices are: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Olympia, Two Buck Chuck, Old Crow. Questionable cheap drink choices are: Hamm's, Cook's champagne, anything from Hood River Distillery.
• If you do have some scratch, drinking upscale is a fine way to spend your money. It makes you feel smarter and more successful than you actually are. (Oh, the magic of alcohol!) If you've got the tongue for it, sip on some single-malt Scotch whisky (never, ever waste your money on blended). Or slurp down some Oregon pinot noir—it really is as good as all the tourism-geared ads say. Or try some of those weird beers from Belgium, although you should absolutely skip any beer made in Oregon that costs more than $5 a bottle: That's horseshit, and the brewers know it. Also, never, ever spend money on Jack Daniel's. It is awful and overpriced, and Jesus laughs at you when you drink it.
• This Mad Men fad for old-timey drinks has led to some very fine things: classic cocktails; the resurrection of rye whiskey (rye is one of life's few perfect things); martinis for lunch. However, don't take it too literally—Don Draper drinks Canadian Club religiously. Have you ever had Canadian Club? It's horrible; it tastes like somebody melted a battery in hot turpentine. You can still pretend it's 1962 with some Bulleit Rye or some Grey Goose vodka.
• Actually, scratch the Grey Goose. Get some super cheap vodka and a Brita. Dump that stuff through the Brita filter a few times—while it won't magically turn it into crisp, clear, nearly flavorless high-end vodka, it'll make it taste a lot better.