“I drink to make other people more interesting.” In this quote, attributed to Ernest Hemingway, the act of drinking is a means to an end rather than an enjoyable end in itself.
From the standard kos (cup) for Shabbat Kiddush to the all-out party of Purim, drinking, as a part of Jewish life, exists on a spectrum; in all contexts, however, it is associated with a shared joy or festive occasion. Ours is not the solemn wine and wafer but the kiddush club schnapps, the bottle of Bartenura gifted to the host of a Shabbat meal, and the perennial rise of potato vodka and Slivovitz when Pesach rolls around. Enjoying oneself through drink is such an accepted part of Judaism that the Talmud tell us a person who temporarily swears off wine to become a nazir brings a guilt offering in the Temple at the end of this voluntary period of abstention. Why? To paraphrase Maimonides: moderation is a Jewish virtue, but wholesale self-denial of pleasure is not.