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Thread: Social Drinking

  1. - Top - End - #121
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    Default Re: Social Drinking

    Quote Originally Posted by pendell View Post
    I'm curious how this works in Japan. I was reading Culture Shock! Japan . The book advises that if invited to a party you have two choices:

    1) Say firmly "Thanks, but I do not drink", and drink tea, soft drinks et al for the night.

    2) Drink every toast etc and get utterly stinking drunk.
    No idea if that's really the case (or when it's the case) in Japan. But I don't find it outlandish.

    I have been in / heard of situations where refusing a drink could be considered mildly impolite--> rude--> deeply insulting. But it was almost exclusively in places where making wine/beer/other alcoholic beverages is part of the culture. Not the industry or the market, the culture. In such a community, alcohol consumption is a lot more that having a few kicks, it's a rite. Of bonding, mostly. And rites have rules.

    For example, a toast may be a serious matter in that context. You greet or wish good health to someone, you "seal" the gesture by taking a sip or possibly emptying a cup (a rite, see?), and it's a lot like extending your hand for a handshake: you expect that person to extend his hand, too. So if he doesn't drink back to your toast, he is being terribly offensive. Sipping instead of drinking properly may be tolerated, or it may be the equivalent of a very weak and thus unconvincing handshake, as if he doesn't really mean it. But if he doesn't drink at all, you won't mind. In fact, since you know he doesn't drink, you won't initiate the toast at all.

    Another example is the celebration of something important, like a wedding, or a wake. Unless you abstain from alcohol completely, it would be very rude to refuse to drink for the bride and groom (don't you wish them all the best?) or for the deceased (won't you honor his memory?). Again, it all stems from the ritual aspect of alcohol consumption: it "seals" and adds weight to so many things...

    Third example, since I'm talking about wine(etc)-making cultures: it may be OK to refuse the beverage your host bought in the store, but what if he made it himself? Would you refuse to eat the food he cooked, too? Preposterous. You'd better have a very good reason.

    And the most ubiquitous situation is when nothing special happens, except that you have a group of friends drinking. They all raise their glasses, and it's like saying "we're in this together". They push each other to drink, not because the goal is to get stone drunk, but because it's a "tactile" way of asserting again and again that they're equals, peers, friends. It won't be necessarily offensive to refuse a drink, but if there's not a solid reason (I'm driving, I'm on antibiotics, I'm a recovering alcoholic), pushing is very much expected.

    Now, obviously, there's a difference between refusing the first glass and refusing the tenth. This is where it gets complicated, because for some cultures (or specific people) it's reasonable to stop drinking at point A, for others it's at point B, and for others only passing out will spare you the obligation. Is it limitless like that in Japan, at least in some occasions? Possibly. Another possibility is that the author of that book simply didn't drink enough to find out.


    Disclaimer: Please note that the above are from an anthropological point of view. I'm not supporting any of it, I'm merely observing. If you don't want to drink, don't drink. And it should go without saying that these customs are a lot more pronounced in rural communities (especially where there's moonshine abundant), they get diluted when people move to a more urban environment, and become a rarity in the big city. Well, they can survive in a way, but most people don't take them too seriously any more.
    Last edited by HeadlessMermaid; 2012-10-01 at 10:31 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #122
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    Default Re: Social Drinking

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    I have been in / heard of situations where refusing a drink could be considered mildly impolite--> rude--> deeply insulting. But it was almost exclusively in places where making wine/beer/other alcoholic beverages is part of the culture. Not the industry or the market, the culture. In such a community, alcohol consumption is a lot more that having a few kicks, it's a rite. Of bonding, mostly. And rites have rules.
    In most of your examples (except for the home made one), you can normally substitute the alcoholic drink for any beverage. At a wedding for example, the bride and groom won't usually mind what you're drinking when the toast is made, as long as you raise something (bridezillas aside).

    About the only exception I can think of is when it's a more a hazing ritual and you're expected to get absolutely hammered in order to 'prove' yourself to the group.
    This is more likely the case when you're out with friends that you don't know particularly well (close friends won't care what you drink unless they're a bit of an idiot), or when it's a outing of solely males or a hen night.

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    This is where it gets complicated, because for some cultures (or specific people) it's reasonable to stop drinking at point A, for others it's at point B, and for others only passing out will spare you the obligation. Is it limitless like that in Japan, at least in some occasions? Possibly. Another possibility is that the author of that book simply didn't drink enough to find out.
    I suspect it's more specific people as while drunken behaviour is tolerated to a degree in Japan (I believe somebody made mention of the culturally accepted way of addressing issues only while drunk), you're not expected to get absolutely falling down drunk.

    From what I know of Japanese drinking culture (at least for semi-formal occasions), there's etiquette involved, such as making sure your guest's cup is never empty, thus if your guest has poor self control, it may well end up being limitless by accident.

    Judging from the reviews of the book, the author may be somewhat prejudiced in his views, for whatever reason.

  3. - Top - End - #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDF View Post
    If thats the qualification then unless you are ridiculously traveled you can't make many statements about most beer. I'm comparing bottled beers to regionally bottled beers.
    Not necessarily; with the exception of some of the trappist beers which are only available at the monastery, it's fairly straightforward to transport barrels of beer around England, or Belgium, for instance. It's one of the reasons that places like Bruges and Brussels have such a reputation for beer: they have dozens if not hundreds of breweries basically on their doorstep.

    I will echo the view that, particularly when it comes to ales and the like, draught is better than bottled, and it's difficult to get an accurate impression of the quality of an ale from the bottled version. Lager tends to bottle better.

    Just about the best ale I've ever had was from Northumberland of all places, at a beer festival. Unfortunately it turns out it's very difficult to get hold of down south, and even the bigger beer festivals don't usually have any available.

    In terms of continental beer I would have to recommend Kwak. Unfortunately my recollection of most German/Belgian/Czech beers is something along the lines of "that awesome beer I had in that place at that bar/beer festival and then fell over" and names elude me. But I've encountered Kwak often enough to recall it well, and it's very good.
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  4. - Top - End - #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    In terms of continental beer I would have to recommend Kwak.
    It's the one served in an hourglass shape glass, yes i remember it, quite strong and tasteful as any belgian beer. By vague assonance i'd also recommend the Eku 28, strong and flavoury but more on the lager side, as the danish Bjorne, also strong but with a fresher taste. (sorry for my lame use of adjectives, i'm not so good in english and i find difficult to correctly translate what i really want to say).

    I'd also recommend, for a unique flavour, the corsican Pietra, made from chestnuts, with a good and persistent head of foam (if you like it) and a quite sweet aftertaste.

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    Default Re: Social Drinking

    Getting back to the topic. Here in the States, the only people who would find it rude to not drink are the people whose idea of a good time is to get beyond drunk. In a social gathering, there really is no need to drink if you don't want to. If anyone tries to pressure you, just say one of three things:

    1) Sorry, I don't drink.
    2) Sorry, but I'm driving later.
    3) Sorry, I just haven't found a beer I enjoy.

    The third is one I rectified by asking bartenders what their favorite beer on tap was, and ask for a sample. Not quite your taste? Say so, and explain why. They will usually be able to find a beer for you by the fourth sample. If they do, buy one, and only one. Savor it. Make sure it is to your taste.

  6. - Top - End - #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Korvedzk View Post
    If anyone tries to pressure you, just say one of three things:

    1) Sorry, I don't drink.
    2) Sorry, but I'm driving later.
    3) Sorry, I just haven't found a beer I enjoy.

    The second and third suggestions carry the same weakness - the implication that it's up for debate. You will likely get a reply of, "Oh, it's OK; you can stay here tonight" or "Really? Oh, let me help. Here, try these three beers."

    The first one is likely to start a discussion on the merits of alcohol.

    I prefer "No, thank you," followed by a change of subject. "Hey, how'd your team do last night?

  7. - Top - End - #127
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    4) Sorry, but it interferes with my medicines.

    Always works for me, although it's probably better if you're actually on meds.
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  8. - Top - End - #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    The second and third suggestions carry the same weakness - the implication that it's up for debate. You will likely get a reply of, "Oh, it's OK; you can stay here tonight" or "Really? Oh, let me help. Here, try these three beers."

    The first one is likely to start a discussion on the merits of alcohol.

    I prefer "No, thank you," followed by a change of subject. "Hey, how'd your team do last night?
    To be honest, though, the first (questioning your abstinence) is rude, and the second runs the risk of being tactless. There's nothing more annoying than when you're trying to refuse an kind offer politely, only for the other person to come up with increasingly elaborate work-arounds. While both situations do happen, if it comes up then at least you don't need to feel guilty about it, because the other person is being less polite than you are.


    Although it's a situation I don't often find myself in, any of the following tend to suffice, and the most you get in response is a raised eyebrow before they get you something else:

    1) I have to be up early.
    2) I have to drive later.
    3) I'm trying to cut back.
    4) Can I have a <soft drink> to be going on with, please; I might have a <alcoholic beverage> later.
    5) I'm on meds (this is normally a good one, although a particularly difficult host might then ask you what they are, etc.)

    Obviously, preface all of these with a "no thank you", or equivalent, or a "sorry". You would like to take advantage of their hospitality, but you just can't.

    There's no reason to be ashamed of whether or not you're drinking, and trying to weasel out of it more elaborately than you need to makes it look like you feel guilty. That said, please don't be one of those people who doesn't drink at a party and looks disapprovingly at everyone else for doing so. That person is never popular.
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  9. - Top - End - #129
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asta Kask View Post
    4) Sorry, but it interferes with my medicines.

    Always works for me, although it's probably better if you're actually on meds.
    Yeah, I quit the SSRI I was on last year because it was actually making things worse, either because the dose was low enough I was only getting side-effects or because something else. So that one's no good now.
    I also don't have a car or a license just yet so driving isn't a believable excuse.
    Last edited by noparlpf; 2012-10-02 at 10:06 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #130
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    My personal favorite:

    "No thanks, I do enough stupid things sober that I can't afford to drink."

    It has the benefit of being absolutely true and also getting a laugh.

    Overall observation: Humor is a lubricant to just about any social situation or interaction.

    Respectfully,

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    Quote Originally Posted by pendell View Post
    My personal favorite:

    "No thanks, I do enough stupid things sober that I can't afford to drink."

    It has the benefit of being absolutely true and also getting a laugh.

    Overall observation: Humor is a lubricant to just about any social situation or interaction.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
    Hey, that's a good one for me.
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    Just popping in here for my 2 cents worth(barely even post on this site these days). I used to be fairly teetotallish, still am most of the time. Once every couple months, I indulge in a single bottle of Bacardi Breezer(Peach, Orange, or Lemon Lime, and I don't care if folks think it's a "girly" drink. If I want to burn my superior taste buds with bitter, I have and will eat a raw bitter gourd, thank you very much), mixed with roughly equal amount of 7-Up or Mountain Dew. Just enough for me to feel "calm" while not actually getting me drunk(which usually follows with a near-comatose state which I dislike). Not having a driving license also means I won't get pegged as the designated driver, but might become the designated cab-direction-giver.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asta Kask View Post
    4) Sorry, but it interferes with my medicines.

    Always works for me, although it's probably better if you're actually on meds.
    as someone who actually has such medications, it is rather annoying.
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