Drinking Like a Russian

Drinking Like a RussianDrinking Like a Russian

It is no secret that Russians are known as heavy drinkers. Several reports put Russians as the highest consumers of hard liquor in the world (apparently around 18 litres each a year). Along with drinking copious amounts, there are also some very specific cultural norms and traditions that surround drinking in Russian. Here in this article, I will give you a few pointers that should have you drinking like a Russian in no time.

  1. Once a bottle is opened, you must finish it! In fact, at many house parties, you will be assigned your very own bottle.
  2. Vodka and other spirits are taken as shots – no sipping.
  3. You should wait until after the second shot to eat. For this reason, the first and second shots tend to follow each other quite closely.
  4. Closely related to the point above, an off number of shots is seen as bad luck.
  5. Between shots, there should be plates of pickled vegetables available to eat.
  6. Before each shot, there will be a toast. This is not just a simple one word ‘cheers’ either. You are generally expected to tell a small narrative and then touch glasses before drinking.
  7. Offer to pour glasses for others and don’t fill your own glass.
  8. If you happen to turn up late to a drinking session, you will be required to drink an entire glass of liquor as a penalty.
  9. Drinks will be poured for all present, even if they will not be drinking.
  10. Empty bottles should never be left on the table. This is seen to bring bad luck. Place them on the floor or throw them out!
  11. before leaving the table or party, you will be required to drink “na pososhok” as a way of wishing you luck/safe journey.

This list covers the basics, but is by no means exhaustive. That said, it should be enough to get you through your first few drinking sessions without making a fool of yourself. Drinking is no longer as big a part of Russian culture as it used to be, but it can help you make new friends a lot quicker.

If you know of any other Russian drinking traditions, let me know in the comment section below.

Photo Credit: To Your Health via photopin (license)

Drinking Like a Russian
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