When I lived in Beirut I was surrounded by booze. From the nightclubs in Gemmayze to the pubs in Hamra, alcohol was a part of a balanced breakfast (quite literally). Although not technically legal to drink on the streets, the police never even bothered us for getting trashed on the street corners. So pervasive was the act of getting drunk that anise permeated the air after sundown (anise is a main ingredient in arak, a Levantine spirit boasting about 60% alcohol). And all this in a Middle Eastern country with a population of about 66% Muslims (split roughly equal between Shia and Sunni).
So why is it that the Lebanese people drink so excessively? To illustrate this point, my Algerian roommate says there is a joke in Algeria about the Lebanese. Muslims always thank Allah for the food they have before they eat a meal. The Lebanese thank Allah for the booze! The reason might have something to do with the contradictory verses in the Quran about the consumption of alcohol.
First, in Surat Al-Baqarah verse 2:219, the Quran likens alcohol consumption to gambling: they are both sinful because (as you can see in the complete verse linked) people go overboard. They drink too much and gamble too much. I’ll cede their point here. Gambling too much is a good way to lose your house. Drinking too much has other dangers (health, safety, etc).
But next we see in An-Nahl verse 16:67 that — at least — some alcohol is good because it helps you reason! That is, the verse basically says that wine is good for you. It doesn’t mention liquor or beer; however, those might also be implied because they have the same “intoxicant” effect as wine.
So there you have it. The Quran is confused about alcohol. And because of that confusion, leave it to the Lebanese to pick and choose which verse they will follow. Kesak! Bottoms up!