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7 Signs You Learned to Drink in Spain

Spain Student Work
by Ana Bulnes Jan 27, 2015

1. You know the dangers of toasting with water

Or with any other non-alcoholic drink. You can do it, sure, but beware! By being such a rebel, you’re messing with the laws of the universe, and there will be consequences: you’ll be doomed to 7 years of bad sex. Or 7 years of no sex at all. You’ve probably discussed which one it was at some point in your life, which led to the discussion of which fate is worse.

2. When toasting, you’re mostly looking at your glass.

Who’s that creepy person who’s trying to make eye contact with the other participants in the toast? Ah, yes, a foreigner. When toasting, we prefer to look at our glasses and make sure that no drop is spilled. We can look into each other’s eyes later, when our drink is safely placed on the table.

3. You find the saying “p’arriba, p’abajo, pal’centro y pa’dentro” embarrassingly stupid, but you’ve loudly participated in many toasts with it and performed the accompanying choreography.

This is part of the reason we’re used to looking at our glasses during a toast. We’ve participated so many times during this silly ritual where we yell that phrase (up, down, to the center, and inside!), while moving our glasses accordingly. Why justify our drinking toasting happiness or health? This is a celebration of the act of drinking instead!

4. You don’t feel appalled by the idea of mixing red wine with Coca-Cola.

It was the perfect companion for botellón: kalimotxo! As a teenager, if red wine was too sour for you, you just added Coca-Cola to make it sweeter!
There are some requirements to mixing, though. The cheaper the ingredients (bad red wine from a carton is perfect, as is an alternative cola drink), the better the experience. You have to drink it in big plastic glasses (0.5 or 1 litre). Kalimotxo stains on your clothes are like scars, a souvenir from an exciting life, and the word glamour doesn’t exist in your vocabulary. If you’re a teen, enjoy the experience while you can. Headaches and memory lapses will soon tell you you’re too old for this.

5. You used to drink in the street…voluntarily.

You spent your teenage years and early 20s meeting your friends (and a bunch of other young strangers) in the street or at some square for botellón. You went to the supermarket, bought bottles of alcohol and soft drinks, plastic glasses, bags with ice, and made your own bar outdoors. Much cheaper than drinking in a pub, and definitely more convenient than doing it at home if your
parents were going to be around. At some point (when you got a job, when you started to prefer paying a bit more), you upgraded and now you only drink outdoors if it’s on a nice terrace.

6. You know the joys of singing regional songs.

After a few drinks, who doesn’t feel like singing? But you don’t feel like singing just any song, you want something deeply felt, some centuries old chant about your land, about your people, about landscape, hard work, drinking (and, depending where you’re from, also sex). Enter regional songs! And they don’t even have to be your own region’s songs! Asturias patria querida is a classic everywhere!

7. Daytime drinking is perfectly fine for you.

OK, maybe not for breakfast, but the rest of the day you can order an alcoholic drink anywhere in Spain and not being judged by the bartender, your friends, your family, nor anyone else. Before lunch? The aperitivo has to come with a vermouth or clara (beer with soda water / lemon soda). You can have a caña (draft beer) or a glass of wine at lunchtime (and then go back to work, yes). And, well, drinking after 5 pm is normal everywhere, isn’t it?

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