A GUIDE TO BOOZE ETIQUETTE
It’s also one of the greatest joys of travel. As Anthony Bourdain once said “unlicensed hooch from a stranger in a parking lot. Good idea? Yes, of course it is.” And we wholeheartedly agree with him.
From exploring a foreign city’s after hours scene to taking a shot with a bartender and pub-crawling with locals, good alcohol can be the perfect entry point to making new mates and understanding a destination. But to be a truly decent drinking mate, you’ve got to be aware of the local customs. Here’s some of the world’s more wild / weird drinking traditions to commit to memory:
NEVER SERVE YOURSELF, YOU SILLY GOOSE
It's no secret that the Japanese love a tipple or three. If you’ve never woken up on a Tokyo street after izakaya-hopping with several highfalutin salarymen, have you really lived? Question for the ages. But as with everything in Japan, there are customs to rigorously follow, even while knocking one back. The first few drinks of the night, whether they're beer or sake, are always communally shared. Adorable. So kawaii. The other thing to remember is to never serve yourself, you absolute heathen. It’s polite to let one of your mates serve you, and then you respond in kind.
SAVE ALL HORSE MILK LEFTOVERS, NOTHING GOES TO WASTE
Admittedly we don't know a heap about Central Asia's Kazakhstan. We know there is insanely good skiing and Borat really did a number on it back in 2006 (whether that boosted or hindered the national tourism is still tbc). We also know that locals here love a bit of fermented horse milk, AKA kumis. The thing with kumis is that none of it should ever, ever be wasted. Sacrilege. So if you’re having a pint, make sure you pour any leftovers back into the communal kumis jug. Waste not, want not. Horse milk 4eva.
RAISE A GLASS... THEN BANG IT ON THE TABLE
A night of drinking in Beijing or Shanghai is also a night of toasting (and not the kind with butter and vegemite). The Chinese love to honour their drinking mates, and their preferred way is to raise a glass. Or several.
If you’re being toasted, make sure you toast the host right back. You also can’t forget the clink, because, respect. If there are a few toasts happening, go ahead and bang your glass on the table. The louder, the better. Drinking is a celebration here! Tell your friends you love them! Fill your elders’ glasses to the brim!
DO THE DIP AND FLICK!
There’s a downright ceremony to drinking vodka in Mongolia, and we love to see it. If you’re travelling the land of a thousand gers and find yourself offered a glass (or bowl) of vodka, the custom-appropriate thing to do is dip a finger in and then flick it once towards the sky, once towards the earth and a little dab on your forehead. Why? You’re honouring the local spirits, duh. If it’s too early in the day for vodka, just put your finger to your forehead, say thank you and hand it back. No harm, no foul, no vodka.
NEVER RAISE A TOAST WITH A BEER
So back in 1849 the Austrian Hapsburgs quashed the Hungarian Revolution and executed a bunch of Hungarian generals and then toasted those deaths with beer. Years of reprisals against all participants followed, which was a real scumbag move and never to be forgotten by the Hungarians, who to this day refuse to raise a toast with beer. For anyone!
So if you find yourself at a bar in Budapest, and you know a speech is incoming, maybe grab a pálinka if you want to stay a culturally decent drinking mate.
IN FOR ONE ROUND, IN FOR THEM ALL
Australians are many things—suspiciously relaxed around spiders, very good at sports—but they’re also exceptionally fair. So if you’re at the pub and you enter a round, hooley dooley you better hold up your end of the beer bargain or so help you god.
A round is basically when you take it in turns to buy a group of people drinks. There’s no size determination for a round, you could go round-for-round with just one person or 10 people (if your bank account is big enough).
The oldest fossil proto-wines without grapes were found in China, in 7,000 BC.