On the basis of an extensive survey of primary and secondary sources from 19th-century central Sweden this article looks into the most neglected area of alcohol history, namely the role that alcohol played within the middle and upper classes. More specifically, it aims to analyze the relationship between drinking habits and ‘respectability’, as described by scholars such as George Mosse. The author identifies an aristocratic drinking culture with roots in the 18th century, in which respectability was not the governing structure of gendered behaviour. Among men belonging to the middle strata of society a different drinking culture existed, where the primary aim was to create a sense of brotherhood between men. The increasing insistence on respectability during the course of the period slowly eroded the old aristocratic drinking pattern, but also challenged the heavy drinking in middle-class male circles. The study thus adds detail and complexity to concepts such as ‘respectability’ and ‘separate spheres’.