In general usage, however, the word refers solely to ethyl alcohol3 - generally in the form of a drink or medicinal preparation and therefore used (in most cases) as a drug … recreational or otherwise.
Historically, alcoholic drinks have been an important part of most human cultures and a significant trade good - in many cases they have also served to provide some measure of protection against water borne disease and provide storage tolerant beverages for use with iron rations.
An indicative list of alcoholic drinks would include:
- Alcoholic Spirits
- Beer … including subspecies such as ale, stout and porter.
- Orc Ale (which may - or may not - violate the 'ethyl' requirement).
- Cider … including perry and similar substances.
- Kumis - and related dairy fermentations.
Non-beverage uses include skin toughening (as rubbing alcohol) and microbiological hygiene (as various sterilising sprays and gels) and ethyl alcohol is a common solvent for organic compounds in medicines and the like. Herbalists can also prepare their wares by steeping the macerated herbs in alcohol, either as a tonic wine or a tincture (depending whether the base is wine or spirits). Most tinctures are prepared from potable spirits, but those designed for topical use can be made with lower grade material.