7 Global Drinking Traditions To Try At Your Local Bar

You may not have traveled all around the world, but you can drink like you have.

From the unbreakable rules of beer pong to the tradition of slapping the wine bag, there are many drinking customs you might encounter on your journey into adulthood. But, the United States is far from the only place where drinking involves much more than just pouring alcohol into a glass.

Cultures around the world have their own traditions and rituals when it comes to clinking glasses with good company. So, while you may not be able to hop on a plane tomorrow to visit these destinations, you can at least try imbibing like the people who live there.

Toast like they do it in France and Germany

Multiple countries share this superstition around the ritual of toasting, but it is most recognized in France and Germany, where it is believed that you should never break eye contact while sharing a toast with others. If you blink or look away, it could mean seven years of bad luck... more specifically, bad luck in the bedroom. No one wants that, so keep your eyes on each other as you raise your glasses.


Take a shot like the Spanish

This is a drinking tradition among many Spanish-speaking countries, but the origins of the tradition can be traced back to Spain itself. Before taking a shot of alcohol, you raise your glass up, bring it down, move it to the center, and then take the shot. As you do this , you say "Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa' dentro," which translates to "up, down, center, and inside." The tradition is really just a fun way to rev yourself up as you prepare to down a shot.


Practice Korean drinking etiquette

Drinking in Korean culture is all about striking a balance of fun and respect for others. There are many many rules, but for the most part these rules are meant to demonstrate your appreciation and deference for the people around you. Some of these rules include:

  • Never pour your own drink
  • When pouring a drink for someone else (especially an elder), use both hands to hold the bottle
  • Always accept the first drink you are offered
  • All of these are ways of showing respect to your hosts, guests, and/or fellow revelers.

Down the Australian Shoey

This Australian drinking custom is straightforward, but I advise not wearing your favorite pair of sneakers if you're going to partake in it. An Australian shoey is literally the practice of pouring alcohol into a shoe and chugging it. Most commonly the alcohol you chug is beer, but the shoe doesn't actually have to be yours (not sure if that's a good thing). The exact beginnings of this tradition are unknown, but it really gets a crowd going, apparently.


Sniff bread like the Russians

When it comes to drinking straight vodka, Russian culture is where we get our cues. But for those not accustomed to drinking pure shots of it, a chaser is necessary, and thankfully, the Russians have us covered there, too: After taking a shot of vodka, you deeply inhale the aroma of bread. This is done partially to offset the taste of the alcohol (since smell and taste are closely linked), but also as a sign that your intentions are not just to get drunk, but to enjoy the food and good company that surround you.


Have an Italian aperitivo

Italian aperitivo features drinks and light snacks enjoyed before dinner. You could compare this to happy hour here in the United States because of its emphasis on small portions of food and lighter types of drinks. The idea is to awaken your appetite and get your stomach warmed up for a full meal later in the evening. I'm not sure how scientifically effective aperitivo is, but it sounds like a good time either way.


Make like the Irish and buy a round

Buying a round for everyone is always appreciated here in the United States, but in Ireland it's considered good pub etiquette. When drinking in a group, it's customary for everyone to take turns paying for all the drinks for the group. When do the turns stop? Well, that's up to your group and just how much time and money they're willing to spend at the pub. Just be sure not to come across as the member of the group trying to duck out of their turn. No one wants to enjoy a pint with that person.