If you’re the kind of person who likes to kick back with a beer or a glass of wine at the end of a busy work day, then you’re most likely also the kind of person who wants to tip a few back on the rare occasion that you can take a vacation to some exotic locale. Of course, different countries have different rules when it comes to tying one on. As people love booze and hate regulating fun, it can be kind of tough to determine exactly how much is too much. For example, did you know there’s not a universally accepted standard drink size? Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with a list of some of the upper-limit recommendations in some of the world’s hottest travel destinations. Cheers!
1. United States
Let’s just start here for a point of reference. In terms of alcohol consumption, the good old U.S.-of-A. is pretty liberal. They assume that one drink is 14 grams of ethanol, which is almost double the rest of the world when it comes to measuring the standard drink. Authorities around these parts start to get concerned when men consume more than 2 drinks (or 28 grams) a day and women consume more than 1 drink a day. What’s the point of having a single drink?
2. The United Kingdom
The U.K. just updated their drinking guidelines the other week, adjusting their criteria into something a little more strict. Previously, the United Kingdom stated that 21 drinks (at 8 grams of ethanol per drink) would be fine. Now, though, the U.K. recommends a mere 14 units of alcohol a week. What’s more, the country has become one of the few to recommend the same limit for both men and women.
Mexico, as you might suspect, has bigger things to worry about than silly old alcohol. So, they loosely recommend that visitors to their country keep their alcohol consumption limited to two drinks a day always imbibed alongside some food. Of course, anyone who’s ever actually visited Mexico’s resort regions can tell you it wouldn’t exactly be in Mexico’s best interests to enforce the rules of national decorum. Margaritas anyone?
4. The Netherlands
The Netherlands measure a standard drink size as about 10 grams of ethanol. Beyond that, they adhere to a similar structure as the United States, i.e. they recommend that dudes stop at 2 drinks per day and women stop at one drink per day. Of course, since their standard drink is smaller, they’re actually advocating less booze intake than the U.S. Of course, you’re not in the Netherlands for a beer, anyway, are you? Don’t worry, there aren’t any enforced limitations on “coffee shop” consumption.
5. Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Department of Health — which measures a standard drink size at 10 grams of ethanol — does not have a daily recommendation for the amount of alcohol an adult of proper age can consume. That’s a pretty odd stance for a government to take since it implies that adults may be capable of actually governing themselves. Of course, their web site does offer this sage advice when it comes to drinking: “If you do not drink at all, do not start drinking with the intent of improving health.” Wise words, Hong Kong government.
6. South Africa
South Africa actually seems to be pretty laid back when it comes to booze. They don’t have a measurement for a standard drink size, and they don’t have any daily recommendations for how much adults should drink, saying only that people should drink sensibly and that a glass or two of an alcoholic beverage occasionally isn’t harmful. So long as adults aren’t acting a fool while they’re drinking, then a little bit of booze is no big deal.
Like the United Kingdom, Australia believes that men and women are actually entitled to the same limits on alcohol consumption (a ridiculous, socialist notion!). Unlike the U.K., Australia judges their drinks a 10 gram scale (rather than 8) and they’ve got a much higher (and more vague) upper limit. Basically, they recommend that, if health is a priority for you, you should probably steer clear of more than 4 drinks in one sitting … but only if health is a priority.
India’s rules on alcohol consumption are a little mixed-up. On the one hand, the National Institute of Nutrition minces no words when it comes to the subject of booze. They say, “Avoid alcohol.” End of conversation. Yet, other sources indicate that the daily recommended upper limit for alcohol intake is as much as four drinks (or a whopping forty grams of ethanol) a day. So, if you happen to be in the country and you happen to want to imbibe, take your cues from your host.
The subtitle for Japan may as well be, “Drinker’s Welcome” if you judge solely by their measurement for a standard drink size: 19.75 grams. Why not just round it up to an even 20? Who knows, Japanese people think seaweed is a treat. Sure, men are cautioned to keep it to two drinks a day, but when you can get sloshed off two drinks, that’s not so bad. There’s no recommendation for women, either because they’re not supposed to drink or because they’re getting their buzz from the nation’s bizarre confections.
Unless you’re sipping scotch with the Supreme Leader himself, it’s just not a good idea to drink if you’re in Iran. Period. The same goes for all these other countries, too. Just don’t do it, unless you want to end up the focal point of a story on CNN. Let’s face it, no one wants Wolf Blitzer blowing hot air in their direction. Moving on …
The Swedes have an oddly scientific way of thinking about drinking (which should surprise exactly no one). The country doesn’t have a standard measurement for drink size. Instead, they state that a maximum of “max 5 percent of [an individual’s] energy intake should come from alcohol.” Disregarding the obvious question of who in the heck keeps track of their energy intake, this is potentially great for alcoholics. All you have to do is consume 20 times more energy than you’re drinking in. Now, once you figure out what it means to take in energy, you’re golden.
You can stop yourself right there, you stereotyper. Just because we got to Ireland, all of a sudden you think things are going to turn into a booze-fueled free-for-all. That’s actually pretty far from the case. The Irish measure a drink at 10 grams of ethanol and they advocate that men stick to 2 to 3 drinks daily and women stick to 1 to 2 drinks a day. Of course, the Health Services do make a point of clearly stating that “Drinks should be spaced out over the week, not consumed in one sitting.” You’d think that would go without saying …
13. The Czech Republic
While you’re tromping through the historic ghettos of Prague, it may be pretty tough to resist the allure of the local bars. After all, just thinking about the hardships of the place’s historic inhabitants is enough to make one want a beer. Also, the local bars are awesome. The Czech people don’t have a standard measurement for daily intake, but they do state that 24 grams of ethanol is good for men and 16 is good for women.
Israel is one of the rare countries that asks their adults to do hard math as they’re getting sloshed. You see, a typical drink size is considered 14 grams of ethanol. The Israeli government thus provides a daily recommended number of imbibed grams, a move you would think would be helpful. Unfortunately, that daily recommended number isn’t evenly divisible by 14. So, men are supposed to limit themselves to 30 grams of ethanol a day, which is fairly easy to make work. Just stop at two drinks. Women on the other hand are expected to keep it to 20 grams per day, which equates to 1.4 drinks per day. Are they supposed to only order one drink and a bit, or buy two but leave a few sips left? It seems they’re just setting women up to fail here.
The French Government has very strictly defined guidelines about how much their citizens should be drinking. Ten grams of ethanol is a standard drink size. Thirty grams a day is appropriate for men. Twenty grams a day is the right amount for woman. Of course, the country also has a reputation for being home to some of the world’s tastiest wines and liquors, and anyone who’s ever actually visited knows that the French believe counting outside a laboratory or classroom is totally gauche, so don’t spend too much time worrying about it. Just don’t make an international spectacle of yourself either.