I’m not ashamed to admit that my travels are often planned around alcohol – trips to vineyards, distilleries and breweries are always toward the top of my travel to-do list – but I do get sick of the disparaging looks this admission generally receives. Tell someone you travel in order to taste new foods and you’re congratulated on your willingness to embrace other cultures. Tell someone you travel for booze and you’ll invariably be met with raised eyebrows and a look that suggests what a sad life you lead.
But really, a country can be understood through its alcohol just as well as its food. Top tipples tend to represent top crops, hence Russia sips vodka (potatoes), Japan knocks back the sake (rice), and Mexico downs tequila (agave). Simple things like weather dictate how a nation drinks, whether it’s escaping cool winters or dismal summers in northern Europe’s cosy pubs or soaking up the sun with an ice cold beer on an Aussie beach.
More interesting are the many rules and regulations that come with enjoying a pint or a shot in different lands. Few areas of life seem to come with as many traditions and potential cultural gaffes as going out for a drink, so here are a few rules to remember when you’re imbibing around the world.