In English the words "barely" and "hardly have subtly different meanings sometimes.
"it is barely enough money for a bus ticket" (it IS enough to buy the ticket, but only just enough).
"It is hardly enough money for a bus ticket" (it is NOT enough money to buy the ticket, not by a long-shot).
"I barely saw him" (it was difficult to see him).
"I hardly saw him" (I didn't see him very often).
"He is barely walking" (he is walking, but with great difficulty).
"He is hardly walking" (he is not walking very often).
Sigh... it's difficult to think of examples because these words are only very subtly different; and one can probably argue a case for using either to mean the same thing.
Is there such a distinction between "barely" and "hardly" in German?
Going by the second sentence, I took it to mean that it is a fine way to speak as in "fine and dandy" meaning good, or appropriate, rather than the way a dandy would speak since "I seldom drink alcohol" is a perfectly good sentence (and translation).
Although, you could be right since the comment is ambiguous.
If "kaum" is more indicative of the extent to which the action is performed (e.g. like English scarcely, hardly, barely), and not the frequency with which the action is performed (e.g. like English seldom, rarely), then is "kaum" the best choice for a sentence like this? Because the English "I barely/hardly drink alcohol" sounds odd--does the German really mean something like "I can't hold my liquor very well"? In English, it seems a sentence like this would be more natural in having the speaking comment on the frequency e.g. "I seldom/rarely/almost never drink alcohol" (the "I hardly ever drink alcohol" is only OK because "hardly" modifies "ever," which is commenting on frequency).
Bothered me,too, even though English isn't my first language. By the way, you missed one more possible interpretation "..drink barely/hardly any alcohol".
Judging by my dictionaries, kaum definitely means the extent, quantity of the action or thing. It can also be used with verbs in the temporal "barely" meaning, like in "We had barely come in when Gary sent us back to do the groceries." I wonder if it is somehow understoof differently with objects.
barely/hardly , alcohol /liquor this is an especially poor sentence. if you drink alcohol you may be drinking stuff from the biology lab or a cleaning supply... liquor is alcoholic beverage. "I rarely drink" is what one would probably announce. But of course you do ingest liquids like water; you just meant nada with alcoholic content.