From hunter-gatherers of the Neolithic Era to university students of the modern age, drinking alcohol has been (and still is) an integral part of adult life. Whether it is used in social gatherings as an icebreaker, or used to indulge oneself with the euphoria one gets upon its consumption, alcohol is enjoyed by people all over the world. Naturally, there is a drinking culture unique to each part of the world; simply read on, and take a journey through two distinctive drinking cultures around the world!
We start with Germany, the beer country of the world. Ranking in the top three for beer consumption per capita, Germans have a genuine pride in their beer and drinking culture. One interesting aspect of the drinking culture in Germany is that the legal limit for drinking wine or beer is only 16, meaning that drinking is not frowned upon even for an adolescent. So it may not come as a surprise that at a McDonalds in Germany, you can order beer with your Big Mac. Although Germany may seem lenient when it comes to alcohol, the German government imposes heavy fines to individuals selling alcohol to minors under 16.
And how could we discuss the beer culture of Germany without bringing up Oktoberfest? Held for 17 days starting from late September to the first weekend of October, Oktoberfest is the largest “fun-fair” on Earth. Millions of tourists from all over the world visit Munich and enjoy Oktoberfestbier in gigantic tents, each capable of accommodating thousands of visitors. Not surprisingly, millions of liters of beer is served during the festivities. One amusing German drinking culture you could take part in is Masskrugstemmen. It is a competition between participants to hold a 1-liter stein, or beer mug, filled with beer with only one arm completely stretched for as long as you can. Sounds easy? Locals would consider it a job well done if one holds it for 5 minutes; 10 minutes and you’re looking at becoming a world champion!
For partygoers, there is the Jagerbomb. While its origins are unknown, it is a bomb shot made up of a shot of Jagermeister and some Red Bull. Since alcohol is a depressant while Red Bull is a stimulant, the one who drinks this bomb shot gets a deluded sense of not being drunk. So whenever you get a chance to visit Germany, especially in October, make sure you try out Masskrugstemmen or a Jagerbomb, and you will definitely enjoy the German drinking culture experience.
Next up, the United States has a drinking culture that is so well depicted by Hollywood movies and other forms of American media. Binge drinking is pretty common for a university student, especially when fraternities and sororities hold house parties and pregame tailgaters offer cheap alcohol. On the downside, alcohol-related accidents and crimes happen rather frequently at universities.
On a more serious note, there are bring-your-own-booze parties, where the invitee literally brings his or her own alcohol. Bring a six-pack to share with other partygoers, and remember – it is common courtesy to leave any unconsumed alcohol one has brought to the party.
At bars or restaurants, there exists a window of opportunity called happy hour, a period of time during which drinks or side dishes are sold at a discount to encourage sales. Make sure to look out for happy hours before deciding on a place to enjoy a drink or you could miss out on some good deals. Finally, last call refers to the final chance customers have to order their last batch of drinks. Every bar has its own closing hours, and the bartender would take the last call just before closing.
The U.S. has its own version of alcohol games, such as beer pong, where two teams compete to throw Ping-Pong balls into each other’s cups of beer with the other team drinking every time the ball makes it into a cup. Another game is Edward Fortyhands, where each player duct tapes a 40-ounce (hence the name) liquor bottle to each one of his or her hands. The player cannot remove the bottles until he or she has finished both bottles, so to be able to use both hands (say, to go to the bathroom) you better drink up!
Every region has its own drinking culture, with distinctive manners and ways of enjoying alcohol. So before you go on a trip, make sure to get to know some of the basics of that region’s drinking culture. Discovering some of its aspect beforehand would definitely help one enjoy oneself. As the saying goes, “the more you know, the more you see.”