Drinking Around the World

We drink to celebrate. We drink to party. We drink to cry. We drink to rebel. We drink to loosen up.

I drink for culture. There’s no better way to understand a culture than by having a drink at a local bar. You’ll hear locals chatting about their problems, yelling for their favorite sports team, or having a business meeting. People around the world drink for different reasons. And they all drink differently. Here are my observations of drinking culture from home and around the world.

United States
One of the most frequent questions I get while abroad is, “Are American parties just like in the movies?” Yes and no. In reality, our parties are at a sleazy frat house with sleazy frat boys. Most of the time our parties are simply a group of friends cackling over a bottle of vodka in their dorm. I’ve only had two truly “American Pie” parties in my life. One was a house party before high school graduation and the other was at an MIT frat. They had intense beer pong matches, pumping party music, beautiful young people, and staircases leading to more rooms with more mini parties. So that’s how we drink at home, here’s what I’ve experienced in different parts of the world.

Since I can remember all my birthday parties and my cousin’s parties were filled with little kids running around the house and sliding down the stairs with the mattress, while our dads laughed around the table with their nation’s favorite beer: San Miguel. It’s a smooth golden lager with a light sweetness — perfect for the tropical heat. The dads would converse outside on balcony or patio, usually on round table for lengthy conversations. They talked about life, complained their wives, boasted about their children, and told corny jokes. Deep into the night, conversations become philosophical. When you drink with a Filipino, you become part of the family.

My first day in Spain consisted of sangria, sangria, sangria. The signature Spanish drink is the perfectmarriage of wine and juice served in pitcher with chopped, tangy fruit. It seemed that sangria was served with every meal, which my friend and I happily sipped under the Mediterranean sun in Barcelona. It’s especially perfect to pair with tapas. Remember that in Spain you have to drink and eat slowly. The Spanish love to have deep conversations over the dinner table. While I was in Spain, one of our companions was really hungry and ate the tapas really fast. The chef frowned, then asked if we were in a hurry. Take your time to show your appreciation.

In England, it’s all about the pubs. Many people say that the English are very reserved people, until you get them into a pub. The English pub is very different from an American pub. Back home, they are more like restaurants. In England, they have a casual aura, similar to coffee shops. You can wasted or you can just have a chill conversation with a friend over a meal and a pint. Pubs are actually short for public houses, which was open to anyone for a meal and a drink unlike private houses. Next time you fly on over to the other side of the Atlantic, check out your local pub. I recommend any hard cider on tap.

Puerto Ricobacardi-bar
Puerto Rico is technically where I had my first legal drink in my home country, and I wasn’t even carded. I went to Puerto Rico when my cousin got married to his Puerto Rican fiance. With all the dancing, drinking, and food, it was easily most insane wedding I’ve ever been to. Puerto Ricans know how to party. While in Puerto Rico, my family and I went out to a day trip to San Juan. Naturally our first stop was the Bacardi factory. Admission was free, which came with two free drinks at the Bacardi bar. But what I didn’t realize is that I would down these two drinks within 20 minutes to make it on the next tour bus. It didn’t make it any better when my grandma asked me to finish her drink as well. Let’s just say I was a little too excited to see the process of brewing.

How to Toast in Different Languages
England: Cheers
France: Santé (to our health)
Greece: Yamas (to our health)
Japan: Kanpai (dry the glass)
Korea: Gun bae (cheers)
Philippines: Mabuhay (Long life)
Poland: Na zdrowia (to your health)
Spain: Salud (to your health)

Do you have any insane drinking stories while abroad? Do you know how to toast in a different language? Share your comments below.

Feature image credit: Toni Blay

1 Comment

  • Brian says:

    I think that in the US people drink alcohol for various reasons that are different from foreign countries. In the US alcohol is viewed as a drug and a potential problem starter by the way the younger population abuses it and the reasons why they drink it. Majority of the younger generation drink only to get drunk and have fun at social events. In other countries it is sometimes viewed as a sign of welcoming and acceptance towards people. People from other countries drink and live at a relaxing pace that does not cause as many problems as it does in the US. Other countries view alcoholic beverages as something that is normal with almost meal and is commonly drank but in the US very few people drink alcohol other than with dinner or at social gatherings.

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