No matter how many monuments you visit while traveling, or works of art you pander over, you’ll never understand the people and their culture until you drink with them. But, before you clink glasses with your new friends, you might want to take a minute and learn about their drinking customs.
While the world loves a good drink, we all like to do it a little bit differently. This infographic by Wine Investment celebrates the many ways people around the world a drink, and their unusual customs; like joining the Sour Toe Cocktail Club in Canada by finishing a drink with a dehydrated human toe in it. Or like in Czech Republic, where you need to make eye contact with those you clink glasses with. Take a look at these and more weird drinking customs below:
The world’s 25 weirdest drinking customs
Toasting originated in 17th century England. Sliced bread was added to wine to increase flavour and cut through the acidity.
The French are dignified drinkers. Ladies are served first, glasses are only ever filled half way, and it’s considered vulgar to pour your own drink.
In Spain they believe that toasting with a glass of water will earn you 7 years of bad sex. The last drink of the evening is only ever called the ‘penultima’ drink. The ‘ultima’ drink is the last of your life.
Italians only drink water or wine with their meals. Other beverages like beer and soda are considered a big no-no.
In order to decant Port without disturbing the sediment and spoil the wine, the Portuguese invented a theatrical way to open the bottle. It includes red hot tongs and ice.
The night before a wedding, groomsmen kidnap the bride-to-be and take her to a bar. The groom must find the group and buy a round of drinks to get his bride back.
The Dutch have invented the ‘head butt’ method of drinking whiskey. The no-hands process involves bending from the waist to take a sip, before straightening up and chasing with beer.
Toasting is a very serious matter in the Czech Republic. Make eye contact with those you clink glasses with, but don’t cross arms else you’ll be cursed with seven years bad sex.
The toast is very important in Georgian culture. Georgians will give 20-30 toasts at every meal and non-Georgian visitors are expected to participate.
At Ukrainian weddings, brides must keep their feet on the ground lest their shoes be stolen. If a shoe is stolen, guests will throw it around the room and drink wine from it.
In 1848, 13 revolutionaries were executed for leading an uprising against Austria. Their deaths were celebrated with the clinking of beer glasses, so Hungarians abstain from doing this.
Icelanders love alcohol so much they dedicated two holidays to it. March 1st is Beer Day, but Verslunarmannahelgi in August is the drunkest weekend of the year.
In Russia it’s common to give long, anecdotal toasts that end with a punch line. Empty bottles and glasses are placed under the table, never on top.
Kumis, made from fermented horse milk, is the national drink of Kazakhstan. Custom dictates that any leftovers are poured back into the kumis jug so none is wasted.
During the toast, elders hold their glasses higher than juniors. The first drink is downed in one and glasses upturned on the table to show nothing remains.
Only when both the bride and groom have taken a drink of traditional palm wine are they considered officially married.
When drinking with friends in Australia, everyone is expected to shout (or buy) a round of drinks. It’s considered very bad form is someone neglects to shout.
Drinking songs are sung (loudly!) before , during and after each round of aquavit. Swigs of beer usually follow each shot of the spiced spirit.
In Peru, one beer and one glass are shared among friends. The first person pours a ‘shot’ of beer and downs it before passing the drink on.
At the Sourdough Saloon in Yukon, you can be initiated into the Sour Toe Cocktail Club if you finish a drink with a dehydrated human toe in it.
Wine has been an important part of Indian mythology and spirituality for thousands of years. Even today, alcohol is used by many to reach a higher level of consciousness.
It’s impolite to pour your own drink. Keep your neighbour’s drink topped up and they will return the favour. Drinkers turn away from the group when they take a sip as a sign of respect.
Moldovans make numerous toasts during dinner, at least one before each drink. There is even a toast to avoid toasting, “Hai devai!” which means “let’s go”.
Now that you’ve learned the drinking customs, you might want to check out 10 curious dining customs around the world.