Drinking Traditions

If you think researching the cheapest places to buy booze is enough to prepare you for drinking ‘til the sun comes up in a foreign land, think again. There’s a world of drinking traditions you need to look out for, but, don’t worry; we’re here to guide you on your merry way.

An illustration of a man drinking the famous, Canadian Sour Toe Cocktail with a toe in it


Canadians have taken drinking to the extreme with this pastime. At the Sourdough Saloon, you can be initiated into a secret club if you finish the famous Sour Toe Cocktail - containing a generous helping of alcohol and, of course, an alcohol-preserved human toe.

An illustration of a Ukranian man drinking out of a blue, high-heeled shoe


Of course, there’s no better way to celebrate a wedding than by drinking wine from the Bride’s stolen shoe. At Ukrainian weddings, the Brides must keep their feet on the ground, lest their shoes be stolen from under them to be used as receptacles.

An illustration of an Irish man wearing a green hat and drinking a pint of Guinness


You would be forgiven for thinking about Guinness when someone mentions The Emerald Isle. Guinness, considered to be the world’s most popular stout, is typically found in every pub in the country, so it’s only right you kick-back with the ‘Black Stuff’ on your travels.

An illustration of a man from Kazakhstan drinking a bottle of fermented mare's milk


Fermented mare’s milk may not be your typical beverage of choice on a night out, but it’s a staple in Kazakhstan. Kumis, which has the same alcohol effects as beer, is often drunk on special occasions, or, for absolutely no other reason than getting drunk.

An illustration of a German woman, held around the waist by a red bag


In Germany, the pre wedding drinking tradition is hardcore. The groomsmen surprise the Bride-to-Be with a gentle kidnap before taking her to a bar to wait for the Groom to buy a round of drinks, and rescue his beloved.

An illustration of a Welsh man drinking from a bottle


As one of the first places in the UK to brew lager, the Welsh are super proud of their brewing history and a trip to Wales would be incomplete without sampling Wrexham Lager, traditionally toasted with the words 'I ech yd daa' (to your health).

An illustration of a man in a red blazer, holding a glass of Pimms


Mention the word Pimms in England and you’ll have a riot on your hands. Pimms is traditionally served during the summer months. Likewise, the Jägerbomb – a shot of Jägermeister mixed with red bull - has become synonymous with England and its legendary nightlife.

An illustration of a couple toasting with champagne glasses

Czech Republic

Toasting is big business in the Czech Republic. Always make eye contact when you clink glasses, drink every last sip before you place your glass on the table and don’t cross your arms whilst toasting, or you’ll be cursed with bad sex. Jeez.

An illustration of a drunk man in a horned helmet, drinking a shot of Brennivin


With a hardcore reputation and an intimidating nickname, Iceland’s national beverage, Brennivín, or ‘Black Death’, is not for the faint-hearted. With a whopping average proof of 80%, this Icelandic staple is traditionally served ice cold and in the form of a shot.

An illustration of a Scottish man holding up a shot of whiskey


No last night of freedom in Scotland would be complete without a wee dram of whisky. Whisky is a big deal in bonnie Scotland and is drunk neat, with many purists considering it to be positively barbaric to drink Scotch whisky on the rocks.

An illustration of a Korean man singing into a microphone


Karaoke is a big deal when it comes to drinking in Korea. There are a staggering number of karaoke bars in Korea, so be prepared to knock back your drinks and belt out I Will Survive to rapturous applause until the early hours.

An illustration of a man in a red blazer, bending down over a table to take a sip of his drink


The Dutch have adopted a radical method of downing whiskey shots called the ‘head butt’, designed to get you very drunk in a very short space of time. This is a no-hands process that involves bending from the waist to drink the whiskey, before chasing it down with beer. Carnage.

An illustration of a man holding his head in his hands, with a thought bubble containing an image of a woman's silhouette


In the land of sun, sea, sand and sangria – it’s in your best interests to toast with alcohol. If you opt for a soft drink and attempt to toast to the happy couple, the Spanish believe it will earn you seven years of bad sex.

An illustration of a man in a sombrero, wearing a moustache and green shirt holding his hands up


The real way to drink Tequila in Mexico, and impress the locals whilst you are at it, is to down Tequila neat and chase it down with a glass of Sangrita – a non-alcoholic drink containing, of course, chilli. Otherwise, you’ll be branded an ‘estupido turista’.

An illustration of a woman looking down into a toilet


In France, ancient drinking tradition dictates that the newlywed couple are sent to their beds during their reception, so the guests can gather the food leftovers and plonk them in the toilet. The couple then have to drink the contents, all for the sake of virility on their wedding night. Crazy.

An illustration of an Italian woman drinking a glass of wine


The Italian way of drinking is all about enjoyment and savouring the bouquet and flavour, not necking every pint in sight. Italians only drink water and wine with their meals and, other beverages, such as soft drinks and beer are considered a huge no-no.

An illustration of a man with his head down on the table whilst holding a bottle of vodka


Consuming vodka in any form but neat is wholly unacceptable in Russia, and it’s widely considered as rude to add a mixer. Russians are staunchly proud of their vodka and once they open a bottle, they won’t leave until it’s finished.

An illustration of two hands clinking together two shot glasses


Vodka has long been a part of Polish tradition. It is considered practically criminal to drink Vodka in any other form but neat, chilled (without ice) and in measurements of 50ml. Be warned, Vodka is always drunk in one gulp, no matter the size.

An illustration of a woman drinking from a bottle of wine


For every meal in Georgia, you can expect a handful of toasts to take place, sometimes even 20-30 (yes, really), and you have to participate in each one. Of course, wine is absolutely essential when performing a toast, so just order a bottle or two of the stuff.

An illustration of a woman holding a pint of beer in one hand and a chocolate bar in the other


Beer is more than just a drink in Belgium, it’s a culture. Traditionally, you have a pint and tuck into chocolate. Jenever gin – the national liquor – can also be served with beer as a chaser, served at room temperature with sugar and a tiny spoon.

Last Updated - 13/03/2019

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