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Drinking: The Spanish Vs. The Americans

Barcelona news and culture | 22.02.2022

Drinking is a social thing. We all know this. You can enjoy the taste of a nice fruity mixed drink, you can be “happy” with other people, it can help you relax, dance and let loose. Here in Spain, it seems like the Spanish people are ALWAYS drinking. What are the differences between the Spanish and the American alcohol drinkers? These and other questions come up when you live in a country and a culture that isn’t yours. I had to learn the hard way.


So who are the best drinkers? That is the question that I would like to pose to you today while I also divulge on some really embarrassing moments drinking here in Spain.

The Americans

The American people know how to party. I mean, just look at popular culture: half of our popular songs made in America are about getting drunk and parting on the weekends or even every day! It seems like the whole music world is either slave to drinking partying songs or sex songs. And I’m the first one to be animated for a good party. Dancing, people being silly, long conversations over booming music…yeah I’m in. Drinking until my vision is a bit fuzzy…well ok. But how does this translate when you travel abroad?

The Spanish

The Spanish have a beer in the morning and a sandwich to start the day off right (at least, most of the construction workers and “manly men” have this for breakfast). Then, if you have a lot of time on your hands, or it is the weekend, you have the delicious tradition of the “vermouth” and a couple of appetizers to whet your whistle before lunch. Drink a couple of sweet vermouths and you are pretty buzzed without really trying. After the vermouth, you then have lunch which normally includes a cup of wine (or 2…or a bottle shared). Its no wonder they need a “siesta” after eating! Then at night, again, more wine, maybe a gin tonic. Its very possible that during the whole day, you could be drinking.

Normally in an American party you drink and you try to animate the rest of the people to drink too and then they drink more and then you drink more and then you all end up at home not knowing how you got there thanking god that you still have your pajama bottoms on with your underwear and you are alone. Let’s face it, we are happy to drink and we even make it a competition. It makes us happy to get ‘crunked’ with our friends. Well, in a Spanish party you had better watch yourself. A good friend told me the Spanish secret. You gauge your drinking on everyone else. If everyone else is not drinking, you should stop and slow down too. There is nothing worse in Spain and with Spanish friends than being the first person to get drunk. You become the clown of the party and its really uncomfortable for everyone and they start avoiding your conversation like the plague. So why do I bring this up? Basically because I find it hard to accept that in my party, in my house, I can’t drink how I want to because no one else wants to party like me. I’ve been told that the Americans “make their own party by themselves.” That is to say that the Spanish drink in a social setting taking their cues from everyone else and the Americans, well, screw everyone else, I’m drinking as fast as possible to forget my pathetic life right now and maybe to get laid.

What’s the best way to drink? I suppose that the Spanish have it right by taking small doses frequently but why do I need to feel bad about the few times that I let loose and boogy making a “party by myself” just so that I don’t look ridiculous in front of everyone? Aren’t we supposed to try to be our own person and not care what other people think about us?

Any thoughts out there in cyber space? How do YOU drink? What turns you off?

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