Since its creation, alcohol has been the liquid fuel for demise, debauchery, elation and celebration. In ancient times, alcohol was utilized as a panacea or for religious ritual, but its uses have changed to meet the needs of our modern pleasure-seeking society, see: Oktoberfest, Napa Valley and college campuses for details.
Today, every country in the world has its own distinct drinking habits, customs and quantities. While some countries denounce drinking culture (looking at you, Saudi Arabia) others have come to embrace the idea of a heavy pour and an early start (hey there, Australia.)
Here's a list of the top 10 drinking countries worldwide (by consumption):
Country: France (#10)
When the French drink, it's usually wine and during mealtime. Because the French are notorious for their leisurely (re: slow) dining habits, a typical French dinner can last hours, broken up with wine, cigarettes and conversation. The relaxed pace of consumption actually allows wine to aid in the digestive process... which may be the secret to the French staying so trim.
Country: Italy (#9)
Like the French, wine and food are deeply intertwined in Italian culture. Vino is a rich part of Italy's heritage, and jugs of unlabeled table wine can be found in kitchens around the country. Italians view wine as a casual beverage, and disregard the sniffing and swirling of American elite wine culture. They also tend to stick to local wines... unless they're enjoying an aperitif.
Country: Czech Republic (#8)
The Czech Republic is all about beer brewing and drinking. The country produces high quality brews, with an emphasis on lagers and pilsners. Recent bans on hard alcohol due to liquor-related poisonings have only boosted beer sales. Not-so-coincidentally, beer is a well-suited pairing for local foods.
Country: Australia (#7)
Allegiance: Beer and Wine
When Australia was a continent founded by prisoners, it is said that rum was used as currency. Consequently, drinking was a common and casual pastime among the country's inebriated ex-cons. Today, pubs are bustling night and day, pouring beer, wine and cider to a thirsty public. It's also considered poor taste to drink solo, making Aussies some of the most social binge drinkers in the world.
Country: Denmark (#6)
Denmark is the drinking champion that doesn't play favorites. Low prices and laissez-faire attitudes about alcohol keep the wine rooms, cocktail dens, and boozy cafés crowded until the early hours of the morning.
Country: Germany (#5)
In Germany, beer and water cost about the same, and brews are sold everywhere from grocery stores to gas stations. Wheat beers are a German specialty, and guzzled by the hundreds at annual Oktoberfest. Did we mention drinking in public is legal?
Country: Russia (#4)
Vodka runs deep in the bloodlines of Russians. A practical people, Russians drink their vodka straight up, in shots or on the rocks. The downside? One in five men in Russia "die due to alcohol-related causes," and the government has done little to combat the trend.
Country: England (#3)
The English are famous for their reliably rowdy drinking culture, aided by laws that allow alcohol to be legally served and consumed any time of day. The British also claim credit for the origination of the pub, where drinkers often order "warm pints," or beer at room temperature. Unsurprisingly, alcoholism and liver cirrhosis are on the rise among an often inebriated population.
Country: Finland (#2)
Like Russians, the Finnish face a rough winter ever year and consume a lot of Vodka. But unlike Russia, a winter day in Finland has nearly 24 hours of darkness... leading to even more vodka drinking. Similar to our other front-runners in this category, alcohol-related diseases are one of the biggest causes of death among the Finnish.
It's no surprise that the Irish take the cake in the global drinking competition. They are, after all, the inventors of St. Patrick's Day and the Irish Coffee. In Irish culture,
binge drinking is often accepted as a celebration of Irish heritage. So if you take a trip to Dublin, be sure to snap some photographs... since you probably won't remember much of your visit.