Unlike the Brits, Spaniards don’t tend to drink solely to get drunk – they do so to celebrate and bring family and friends together. The buzz that comes from the alcohol is a bonus, not the main event. However, that’s not to say they’re not big on booze – they’ve just got different traditions surrounding alcohol. So raise your glass, say el brindis and read on for the dos and don’ts of drinking in Spain.
- DO day drink. When in Spain, do as the Spanish do – and that means, indulge in a beer at midday. It’s commonplace to take a long lunch and have a pint or two before heading back to work. In fact, you might get some weird looks if you refuse the booze.
- DO eat whenever you can. See a tapa, take a tapa – you need to keep up your stamina and line your stomach for the full night ahead of you.
- DO take a nap before you start drinking. Siestas are not just a Spanish stereotype, they’re a cultural necessity and they’re especially important if you want to make it to the end of a night out.
- DO attend a botellón. Essentially, this is the Spanish version of ‘pre-drinking’ – and it often occurs out in the streets among strangers. Although this is technically illegal, as long as everyone behaves themselves, the police tend to turn a blind eye.
…And the Don’ts
- DON’T forget el brindis (that means the toast). To correctly participate in this tradition, after someone names a cause for celebration, you must clink glasses with the people you’re getting sloshed with, say, ‘Salud!’, and take a big gulp of your drink. Some of these toasting traditions even require you say a rhyme or look everyone in the eye before you drink – if you don’t, you’ll have years of bad luck.
- DON’T expect a large selection of beer on tap – or any selection, really. There will be one option if you order a cervecita and it will be the local brew.
- DON’T act like it’s a sprint. It’s a marathon, so pace yourself! Spaniards go till dawn, so unless you want to be throwing up or passing out early on in the night, take it slow.
There’s more to Spain than sangrias and siestas (although those are definitely two very important things). Now that you knows the drinking dos and don’ts, head to this sunny country to see for yourself – and try out these tippling traditions while you’re at it.