I was trying to track down the origin of the phrase "tie one on." Not much luck but this is what I came up with:
From "The Wordsworth Book of Euphemism" by Judith S. Neaman and Carole G. Silver (Wordsworth Reference, New York, 1983, 1990) -- "Tie one on, to - To get drunk. (Eric) Partridge suggests that this expression is derived from 'hang one on' (ca. 1935), which originated in the United States and was later adopted in Canada. It is clear that a 'hangover' -- more politely, 'the morning after' -- is the miserable memento of having 'hung' or 'tied one on.' We are uncertain as to why drinking is described as tieing, hanging or belting..."
: Some sites claim that the phrase "tie one on" dates back to the wild west here in the US in the 1800's where a cowboy would have to tie up his horse to a hitching post before he could go into the saloon and get drunk. I don't think so!
: The OED compares "tie one on" to the British slang phrase "tie a bun on," also meaning "to get drunk." Maybe some of our UK friends could shed some light on this.
a slang phrase meaning "to get drunk." I can't say that his theory definitely isn't true, simply because no one knows for sure what the origin is. And it is true that, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the first recorded use in print of the phrase comes from a book called "Western Folklore." But that book was printed in 1951, and if the phrase had indeed been in common use in the Old West, it is difficult to imagine that it would not have cropped up at least once in the extensive body of "cowboy literature" written before the 1950s.
The one clue we have about the origin of "tie one on" only deepens the mystery. The OED compares "tie one on" to the British slang phrase "tie a bun on," also meaning "to get drunk." Unfortunately (I seem to be saying that a lot today, don't I?), no one seems to have the vaguest idea where "tie a bun on," which appeared around 1901, came from, or what a bun could possibly have to do with getting drunk. It's enough to drive a fellow to drink.
To "tie one on" means to drink for the purpose of getting drunk, especially when one is currently still drunk or hungover from a previous drinking session, thus having something to "tie one on" to. Could be considered the drinking equivalent of chain smoking.