Australia -- pretensions to sophistication, but pronounce Sauvignon "Sav"
South Korea -- where late-night drinking sessions grease the wheels of industry
Ecuador -- local tipple is called "hangover in a bottle"
St Patrick’s Day is upon us again. Time for the drinking world to pull on an unamusing leprechaun hat and order pints of the black stuff in a fake Irish accent.
But why do we only celebrate the Emerald Isle’s contribution to conviviality when there are other nations out there who love to wallow in drink just as much?
In the interest of equality, we herewith embark on a global pub crawl to see who else we should invite to the party.
Promise to drink responsibly and you can join us.
Australians are no longer the great drinkers they once were.
Unlikely as it seems for a country where culture usually refers to something that grows in the folds of discarded sportswear, many Aussies have become refined in their tastes.
Cheap lager is no longer cheap and, regardless, beer has been usurped by fancy wines.
Still, they have a fine legacy. This is a country whose former prime minister, the legendary Bob Hawke, was once in the Guinness Book of Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 2.5 seconds.
Old habits die hard though, so if you do go drinking with Australians, you must still abide by the rules of “the shout.” This means once you’ve accepted a drink as part of a round, you’re obliged to “shout” everyone else a beverage in return – a costly business now that they’re all on the wine.
Classic drink: “Cardonay” or a “Sav” – typically Austral-mangled wine varietals consumed either pre- or post-stubbie (of beer).
Hangover cure: Cold, leftover pizza, pies, fry-ups, 3 a.m. souvlakis and even Vegemite and cheese sandwiches are all favorites. But sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 2.5 seconds will do the trick every time.*
*CNN does not recommend this. Nor will it clean up afterward.
Think of Germany and the chances are you’re thinking of a flaxen-haired fraulein hauling vast steins of beer through crowds of moustachioed men in leather shorts to the sound of an oompah band.
Or perhaps you think about Angela Merkel. Each to their own.
Germans may not be Europe’s biggest beer drinkers – that honor goes to the Czechs – but somehow they’ve cornered the market in celebrating its consumption. This is largely thanks to Oktoberfest, Bavaria’s month-long answer to St. Patrick’s Day.
In reality, although Germans do have a taste for hops, barley, malt and water, most drink steadily in rather more mundane circumstances.
This is because beer can be bought and consumed not just in bars, but in shops, gas stations, newspaper stands and on public transport. Often without the aid of lederhosen or the sound of parping brass.
Classic drink: White wine spritzer. Nah, just kidding. It’s beer.
Hangover cure: Herring and raw onion. But you’ll need more beer to fix your herring breath.
Uganda leads its African neighbors for alcohol intake, largely thanks to a rampant trade in illegally made rotgut and a winning formula of booze made from bananas.
High on the menu is a potent liquor called waragi, also known as war gin because it was once used to fortify troops. Though drinking too much inevitably leads to surrender.
Classic drink: Ajono – a semi-fermented beer drunk from communal pots using long straws.
Hangover cure: Luwombo – another winning formula: meat cooked in banana leaves.
7. South Korea
In South Korea, booze acts like a pressure valve, allowing people to vent frustrations. Booze also acts as a lubricant, oiling the wheels of business.
And, of course, booze acts like booze, getting people drunk.
South Korea’s strict social protocols seem to dissolve in alcohol, with the most hierarchical of relationships turning to brotherhoods by the end of the night, or early morning. A good session involves rapidly soaking up as many “bombs” (mixtures using “golden ratios” of whiskey and beer) as possible and then speaking (or slurring) what’s left of your mind, preferably to your boss.
To aid this process, glasses are emptied and quickly filled. Later, inevitably, stomachs are filled and quickly emptied.
Classic drink: Soju – to fans, a spirit capable of saving souls. To critics, cheap, sweet vodka.
Hangover cure: Haejangguk – a spicy ox blood broth. Sounds like a hangover, tastes like a cure.
This tiny former Soviet state has earned a reputation for boozing thanks to some World Health Organization stats that placed it top of the table (surely under the table?) for alcohol consumption.
There’s been a lot of grumbling about where these numbers came from, particularly as they indicate most people would be too sozzled to respond accurately to any survey.
If they are drinking to excess, the Moldovans have a decent selection of homegrown wines to choose from.
They also have their own versions of popular East European fruit brandies. These have the same effect as knocking yourself on the head with a hammer, but without the unnecessary expense of buying a hammer.
Classic drink: Boza – a sweet, malty fermentation only marginally less disgusting than pickle juice.
Hangover cure: Pickle juice.