World's 10 best drinking nations

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CNN) -- St Patrick's Day is upon us again. Time for the drinking world
to pull on an unamusing leprechaun hat and order pints of the black
stuff in a fake Irish accent.
But why do we only celebrate the Emerald Isle's contribution to
conviviality when there are other nations out there who love to wallow
in drink just as much?
In the interest of equality, we herewith embark on a global pub crawl
to see who else we should invite to the party.
Promise to drink responsibly and you can join us.
10. Australia
Australians are no longer the great drinkers they once were.
Unlikely as it seems for a country where culture usually refers to
something that grows in the folds of discarded sportswear, many
Aussies have become refined in their tastes.
Cheap lager is no longer cheap and, regardless, beer has been usurped
by fancy wines.
Still, they have a fine legacy. This is a country whose former prime
minister, the legendary Bob Hawke, was once in the Guinness Book of
Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 2.5 seconds.
Old habits die hard though, so if you do go drinking with Australians,
you must still abide by the rules of "the shout." This means once
you've accepted a drink as part of a round, you're obliged to "shout"
everyone else a beverage in return -- a costly business now that
they're all on the wine.
Classic drink: "Cardonay" or a "Sav" -- typically Austral-mangled wine
varietals consumed either pre- or post-stubbie (of beer).
Hangover cure: Cold, leftover pizza, pies, fry-ups, 3 a.m. souvlakis
and even Vegemite and cheese sandwiches are all favorites. But
sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 2.5 seconds will do the trick every
*CNN does not recommend this. Nor will it clean up afterward.
9. Germany

Oktoberfest, Bavaria's month-long answer to St. Patrick's Day.
Think of Germany and the chances are you're thinking of a
flaxen-haired fraulein hauling vast steins of beer through crowds of
moustachioed men in leather shorts to the sound of an oompah band.
Or perhaps you think about Angela Merkel. Each to their own.
Germans may not be Europe's biggest beer drinkers -- that honor goes
to the Czechs -- but somehow they've cornered the market in
celebrating its consumption. This is largely thanks to Oktoberfest,
Bavaria's month-long answer to St. Patrick's Day.
In reality, although Germans do have a taste for hops, barley, malt
and water, most drink steadily in rather more mundane circumstances.
This is because beer can be bought and consumed not just in bars, but
in shops, gas stations, newspaper stands and on public transport.
Often without the aid of lederhosen or the sound of parping brass.
Classic drink: White wine spritzer. Nah, just kidding. It's beer.
Hangover cure: Herring and raw onion. But you'll need more beer to fix
your herring breath.
8. Uganda
Uganda leads its African neighbors for alcohol intake, largely thanks
to a rampant trade in illegally made rotgut and a winning formula of
booze made from bananas.
High on the menu is a potent liquor called waragi, also known as war
gin because it was once used to fortify troops. Though drinking too
much inevitably leads to surrender.
Classic drink: Ajono -- a semi-fermented beer drunk from communal pots
using long straws.
Hangover cure: Luwombo -- another winning formula: meat cooked in
banana leaves.
7. South Korea
In South Korea, booze acts like a pressure valve, allowing people to
vent frustrations. Booze also acts as a lubricant, oiling the wheels
of business.
And, of course, booze acts like booze, getting people drunk.
South Korea's strict social protocols seem to dissolve in alcohol,
with the most hierarchical of relationships turning to brotherhoods by
the end of the night, or early morning. A good session involves
rapidly soaking up as many "bombs" (mixtures using "golden ratios" of
whiskey and beer) as possible and then speaking (or slurring) what's
left of your mind, preferably to your boss.
To aid this process, glasses are emptied and quickly filled. Later,
inevitably, stomachs are filled and quickly emptied.
Classic drink: Soju -- to fans, a spirit capable of saving souls. To
critics, cheap, sweet vodka.
Hangover cure: Haejangguk -- a spicy ox blood broth. Sounds like a
hangover, tastes like a cure.
Also on CNN: How to survive a Korean drinking session
6. Moldova

Apparently, it's not always happy hour in Moldova.
This tiny former Soviet state has earned a reputation for boozing
thanks to some World Health Organization stats that placed it top of
the table (surely under the table?) for alcohol consumption.
There's been a lot of grumbling about where these numbers came from,
particularly as they indicate most people would be too sozzled to
respond accurately to any survey.
If they are drinking to excess, the Moldovans have a decent selection
of homegrown wines to choose from.
They also have their own versions of popular East European fruit
brandies. These have the same effect as knocking yourself on the head
with a hammer, but without the unnecessary expense of buying a hammer.
Classic drink: Boza -- a sweet, malty fermentation only marginally
less disgusting than pickle juice.
Hangover cure: Pickle juice.
5. Ecuador
You know you're off to a bad start when the local liquor is known as
"hangover in a bottle." The best-selling Zhamir is a cheap but
brain-penetratingly potent juice made from sugar cane that will get
even the hairs on your head drunk after a couple of sips.
There is a drinking etiquette in Ecuador. You must wait until a toast
is made until you take the first sip of your drink. After that, you're
on your own, but it hardly matters since no one -- least of all you --
will remember anything about it.
Classic drink: Cristal. Another headbanging local hooch, not the posh
Hangover cure: In a country known for its coffee, obviously the best
cure is oregano tea.
4. France
The French may sneer at the uncivilized drinking habits of their
European neighbors, but they're usually sneering with a glass of
French vin close at hand.
In France, wine is consumed alongside every meal except breakfast.
It's often more freely available, and cheaper, than water.
Only French wines will do though. Despite regularly losing taste tests
to New World rivals, the French remain steadfastly loyal to their own
vineyards, almost to the point of denial.
Supermarkets rarely sell alcohol that isn't French. They're happy to
eat snails, but they won't touch Belgian beer.
Classic drink: Chateauneuf-du-Pape -- bold, peppery and
over-confident. In other words: French.
Hangover cure: Onion soup. Sorry, French onion soup.
3. Russia

Russian for "endurance sport."
For better or worse, drinking is a way of life in Russia. Not
something that's necessarily done for enjoyment, but something that's
stoically endured. Like a Siberian winter, gloomy literature or a
shirtless political leader.
Classic drink: Vodka.
Hangover cure: Vodka.
2. China
China's rapid economic expansion has seen it become a major consumer
of oil, steel and other raw materials. With all that thirsty work, it
must surely also have its eyes on the rest of the world's
In the meantime, apart from Shanghai billionaires splurging on
US$10,000 bottles of Chateau Margaux, the Chinese mostly stick to
fiery grain-based liquors.
The Chinese love celebratory drinking. Weddings, birthdays and
business deals are all good excuses. Drinking takes the form of a
series of increasingly incomprehensible toasts. To the outsider, this
might seem tortuous. Just wait until the karaoke starts.
Classic drink: Baijiu -- a white spirit that can also be used to clean
vomit from inside a taxi.
Hangover cure: Congee -- a porridge-like soup that unfortunately
resembles stuff that could have been cleaned out of a taxi.
1. Great Britain
While the Irish have one date to celebrate their country's abiding
love of alcohol, the British have three: yesterday, today and
The near-constant drinking in the UK revolves around the pub. After a
few pints, sometimes the pub begins to revolve, too.
Alcohol is used by many Brits to overcome their traditional reserve.
And so pubs are the places where relationships begin and end, deals
are struck, scores are settled and the whole theater of life plays out
to its dramatic conclusion.
A range of light snacks may also be available.
Classic drink: Pint of bitter -- traditional ale that, contrary to
popular belief, is rarely served warm.
Hangover cure: Full English breakfast -- a greasy plate of fried meat
that, contrary to health and safety regulations, is rarely served
Also on CNN: 10 tips for surviving London as a local

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