"I'm never gonna drink again" is probably the most repeated - and the most often broken - resolution ever heard. We all hate alcohol the day after we drink too much, but despite the stomach and headache, it certainly was a good party - and alcohol probably played an important role in it.

Maybe you tasted it for the first time when you were still not legally allowed to, when your grandfather let you sip his champagne on a New Year's Eve. Or perhaps you secretely shared a beer with your friends after school.

In any case, alcohol is around as we grow up and somehow shapes our social relationships. It doesn't matter if you're a teetotaler or someone who can't imagine a party without drinks: alcohol is part of your culture. You don't think so? It's pretty certain that you'll know more about the alcoholic specialities of your country than the lyrics of its folk songs.

Another way to see how socially important alcohol is in Europe is by visiting a different country and realising that one of the things that most shocked you was their drinking patterns. Four of our authors share their impressions on alcohol as foreign visitors and compare them to their own country's drinking culture.

Ketija Riteniece recalls how in Finland alcohol causes a 'Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde' effect in its inhabitants. Christian Diemer explodes the stereotype of Russians only drinking vodka. Boris Ludwig reports how Italians' passion for wine can be as visceral as their love for their soccer team. And Ingvild Lindgren gives us some tips on how to survive the English drinking competition.

tomhenselmini Yukon_White_Lightmini
Double Sided Finns. They tend to be calm and shy, but it all mutates with  alcohol more... Natyurlikh. Alcohol in urban Russia and rural Ukraine. Breaking down some stereotypes - or not more...
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Vino never comes alone. Do it the Italian way: take a glass and join the conversation more... English drinking for foreigners. Brits can drink more beers in one night than other Europeans in their own life more...

Cover photo: fvrt (flickr)

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