Alcohol is a prevalent and almost universal cultural element among the worlds of the Unified Republic of Stars. Even Columbus, which actively discourages its citizens from drinking, has an active brewery industry producing what many consider the Republic's finest beers. Almost every world has alcohol involved in some form of its culture and, on the whole, people drink much more within the Republic than within any Earth nation previous to colonization. It serves both to entertain people after a day's labor and to relax them and, even as the economy evolved to one that was much more industrialized and a middle class emerged, remained important to almost everyone.
Major Alcohol Producers
Many of the Republican worlds produce one form or another of alcohol. However, some planets are known for what they produce and are sought out among the rest. For instance, Galileo is known for its excellent whiskey, a new and different breed than anything that was created on Earth before and just as highly prized. Even more different was the invention of Norman Whiskey on New Normandy which specialized in using many native species in its distillation process and discovered some truly new and unique flavors. Columbus, a world generally known for being dry is anything but and it has an active brewery industry known for some of the finest beers produced within the entire Republican Star Cluster. Fengxi, before narcotics became a major industry on the world, was first known for its excellent wines that sit on tables across the Republic.
Differences In Culture
But regardless of where the alcohol is produced, almost every citizen (with the notable exception of the devout muslims on Al Gharbiyah), have at least one drink a day. And on worlds like Galileo and Athena, it is almost impossible to complete any business transaction without alcohol being present. In fact, on worlds such as Galileo and Darwin beer is a lunchtime drink while post-work and all evening and night hours are reserved almost exclusively for shots of hard alcohol, generally whisky.
On Troy, the people take a more moderate view of drinking, preferring to imbibe after the work hours are over. However, this only applies to the middle and upper classes as the working classes will drink, and are often provided with drink by their employers, throughout the day. It's considered a "benefit" of the job and places that have tried to cut off day time drinking have been met with protests and strikes.
Columbus is an interesting example because the government of the world officially discourages drinking and applies high taxes to all forms of it, either imported or what's produced domestically. Drinking is almost universally looked down on when done on a Sunday and bars are generally kept on the outskirts of cities. However, in private residences, it's more usual than not for a person to maintain a private bar of their favorite alcohol and a refrigerator of beer for consumption by themselves and their guests. Also notable is that alcohol consumption, based upon sales figures and estimates of smuggling onto the world, is almost 1.5 time higher than on Galileo where bars are everywhere and drinking at ones desk or on the job is considered normal.
The planet of Athena and the city of Cobanito are unique within the Republican Star Cluster in that they have a very distinct cocktail culture. While most in the Republic generally drink shots of straight liquor, sometimes on ice, the people on Athena and within Cobanito prefer the art of mixology, combining various ingredients to come up with special and tasty drinks. It is true that both places have bars that serve beers and shots but most of the upscale establishments also have well trained bartenders schooled in mixing drinks that their customers expect. Which, of course, is not to say that cocktails don't exist on other planets as well. Liz's Dinner & Cabaret in particular is known in Galileo City for its fine drinks as are many other high quality establishments across the star cluster. But Athena and Cobanito are specifically known for it across the entire Republic.
Drinking is also an important part of everyday life for the dominant ethnic Japanese that live within the New Nippon System, and they brew sake much like it has been made for over a thousand years. While some amount is shipped to those who like is around the Republic and bars that specialize in it, the vast majority of it is drunk within the system. They also have a rather large beer brewing industry that more people know of as well as a small whisky distilling industry that attempts to copy Scotches from Earth, more or less with success.
With the exception of Cobanito on Shaanxi the worlds of the Fenghuang System tend toward either beer or, in the case of Fengxi, wine. Beer is an overall go to drink that people will imbibe at almost every occasion while wine remains the province of dinner and more formal events.
In the end, it is unusual for someone to be without a drink at some point and, except for the dry muslim population on Al Gharbiyah, those who don't or won't drink are considered suspicious by everyone else since it is a social activity closely tied with almost every aspect of day to day life. While various attempts have been made to tamp down the extreme drinking that takes place regularly, it has almost always been met with failure as drinking is an integral part of life within the Republic. It could be called a crutch that most people use but the fact is that it's a popular one and one which no one has any interest in going without, much like tobacco.