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Drinking traditions & rituals to try at home

Are you ready to be a koupa troopa or a cod kisser? Learn some of our favorite traditions from around the world, and see which you’d like to try!

February 05, 2021

Glasses of Genever, ready for Kopstootje

When you think about it, there's a lot of ritual involved in drinking alcohol, and the customs differ between regions and cultures. There are all kinds of traditions for Americans alone, whether it's a Thursday night happy hour with friends, a perfectly-chilled martini before dinner, or picking the right bottle of wine to go with your meal. From watching a suspendered mixology nerd craft a cocktail from a recipe more complicated than your taxes to a raucous drinking game on a college campus, there are all kinds of traditions and rituals around social drinking.

During these times it's more difficult to get out and about for the more social customs associated with your favorite tipple. We decided to put together a list of our favorite traditions around the world that you can try at home to get the feeling of communal drinking even if you can't be out and about. It hopefully goes without saying here, but standard pandemic socialization rules apply here - drinking involves being mask-less, so pay attention to your comfort level if you're trying these out with others. That said, see below for some of our favorite drinking experiences, laid out more-or-less from simplest to most complex (unless you happen to have a cod lying around).

Communal drinking [Japan]

We're starting off easy here - really all you need is a few friends, and a few bottles of your beer, wine or spirit of choice. Oh, and let’s get one thing straight - “communal drinking” doesn’t mean drinking out of the same cup. Japan's culture encourages communal drinking, which manifests as no one pouring their own drink. The goal here is for everyone to pour a drink for everyone else in the room, even if it's just a splash to top off the glass. It's a great way to promote small talk without organized icebreakers, and even though it seems like a good way to have way too many drinks poured for you, here's a pro tip: keeping your glass mostly, but not quite full, is a good way to avoid overindulging.

Koupa [Greece]

OK, we're all about the responsible consumption of alcohol, and this is pretty much just a drinking game, but we had to include it because it's way too much fun, in short rounds anyway. The gist of the game...err, to call out the name of someone else at your table or in the room. That person has to finish their drink and kiss the bottom of the glass for good luck, before calling on someone else. That's it. We assume after you've played a round with someone you're entitled to call them your "koupa troopa," but we don't make the rules.

Kopstootje: genever & headbutts [The Netherlands]

This Dutch drinking tradition is basically a shot of genever and a beer (aka a boilermaker) but it's one of our favorite drinking rituals to liven up any occasion. If you're not familiar with genever, it's a Dutch spirit that's often described as tasting like a mixture of gin and whiskey.

Kopstootje is roughly translated as a "little headbutt," and the ritual is simple. You fill a tulip-shaped shot glass (or any shot glass you can drink from hands-free) up to the brim with genever. The rule is that you're not supposed to spill a drop, even with the meniscus of booze you probably left from your pour, so everyone taking part has to put their hands behind their backs and take their first sip with no hands. Feel free to enjoy the rest of the shot in whatever non-physical challenge way you see fit. Any other headbutting that occurs afterward is purely incidental.

Eating the worm [Mexico]

Most people familiar with tequila have heard of eating the worm at the bottom of the bottle, though we'll come right out of the gate with a couple of "well actuallys." 1)The "tequila worm" actually isn't found in a bottle of tequila, but in the beverage's smokier kissing cousin, mezcal, and not all varieties of that contain a worm (hint: Monte Alban does). 2) It's not actually a worm at all - it's a moth larva (which probably doesn't make it sound any more delicious than the worm)

This one probably will take a little bit of a long game. Even if you're the kind of person who relishes the idea of eating a booze-soaked caterpillar, you have to make it to the bottom of a bottle of Mezcal to do it. How you decide who actually eats the worm is up to you - maybe your friends are the types to fight over it, or maybe you'll need to rely on dares, bets, random number generation or feats of strength. Here are some mezcal cocktail recipes to help get you started, but this is a journey you'll have to finish yourself.

Kissing the cod [Canada]

This tradition is a bit simpler, since you only need to take a single shot of rum, though it is supposed to be a specific kind called Screech. On the other hand, you do need to get your hands on a cod. Like the fish. If times were different, we'd be suggesting a road trip to Newfoundland for a "screech-in," but for now here's a guide we modified from the original:

  1. Buy some Screech rum - this is their deal, so this one's pretty self-explanatory.
  2. Name a "Master of Ceremonies" - any Newfoundlanders present are MC by default, followed by whomever most-likes the sound of their own voice. The MC is in charge of making sure people follow the (not very complex) rules.
  3. Everybody gets a shot of Screech - if you don't like your shots straight up, feel free to mix it up - here are some recipe ideas.
  4. Pucker up - this is it. The moment when you kiss a cod, which you have somehow procured on your own. According to Screech, you kiss the cod because back in the day it "meant a simple bon voyage to those who were sailing South and returning with the rum!" Story checks out.
  5. Recite the Screecher's creed - it's a whole bunch of stuff about how great Newfoundland is. Which, I mean, obviously.

That's it! You can find the Screecher's creed, along with a downloadable certificate of authenticity (we assume it's on the honor system), at the Screech website. We hope you have fun trying out these rituals, and may they become part of your own good time traditions.