This study looks at changing styles of alcohol consumption and the spread of underage drinking as a crucial nexus in discourse, dialectically involving economic, political and socio-cultural issues with ethical implications. Using an ad hoc corpus of print and web-distributed materials, and examining textual features within a framework of language as social action, the study explores how this discursive nexus is deployed in the dynamics of subject positioning on alcohol issues, highlighting different stances in the representations of the alcohol scenario with particular emphasis on the depiction and evaluation of 'young alcohol'. Notions of alcohol configured as traits of social and collective identity appear largely stereotyped and quite immune from change. Conversely, representations of alcohol within the corporate culture of the alcohol business are driven by the need to mask and protect vested interests, which leads to hybrid and dynamic forms of promotional discourse posited as a new “self-regulating ethos”. At the same time, these powerful subjectivities resist and actively oppose political measures against alcohol as a risk factor.