DRINKING in USA vs. Europe

Well, that portions thread was entertaining. We talked about our routines and what we like to eat and drink. So in this thread I want to ask: how much do you drink?

Several American reports over the last few years have lowered the amount of alcohol we should imbibe. What is the “safe” level now, one drink per day? Ha! I have never traveled Europe, but on any Anthony Bourdain or similar travel shows, I witness Europeans drink more than Americans. A lot more. Usually it is wine, and steadily throughout the day. Sometimes beer. Sometimes hard liquor.

This is not a thread about what is safe or right, but simply and honestly, what do you drink? When? How does it compliment your meal?

No names mentioned, but one poster has wine with every meal/snack except breakfast. Another comes home from work, has a beer, cooks, has more beer, etc.

For me, I get home from work and enjoy a cocktail such as a martini. I drink it to unwind. I usually have a second while I cook. By the time I’m eating, I have a nice buzz and do not need a third. If its a gin and tonic (or a similar mixed drink that is not straight liquor, maybe I will have a third, but not usually). So that’s me. Two cocktails per night, probably five nights a week. Is that too much? Am I an alcoholic? What are we trained to think?

Curious for answers!

Well well well…fact of the matter is I’ve lived most of my 50 years on this planet as a high functioning alcoholic. I’ve never day drank during work, that was a strict line I would never cross. I’ve tried to slow down in with age, although my lifestyle doesn’t demonstrate it, I don’t have a death wish, but I still consume far too much.

During my 30’s I employed a personal driver since I knew I could be too reckless for my own good and there was no uber. Between my day job (financial services) and my occasional participation in restaurants and bars drinking as a form of entertainment has been the staple of my entire adult life.

It’s well within my ability to drink a 1.750ltr of vodka in a night, not something I’m proud of. I’ve tried to cut back but over the recent holidays I woke up astonished to find I had done it again on Christmas. (mind your I remain conscious and engaged in conversation etc. I just honestly lost track of how much I was drinking till the next day I saw the empty bottle on the bar)

Where I would drink nearly daily to excessive amounts 5-6 days a week in my youth I now try to just drink on the weekends and that will be between 1-1.750ltrs a weekend. I cannot drink enough wine or beer to get buzzed. 3-4 bottles of wine and I’m “sober” and bloated not a happy combo. 12 beers I’m “sober” boated and gassy, nothing worse! Lol

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


It was. But it made the mistake (as often the case on food forums) of assuming that there is a commonality in America or Europe. And, unfortunately, this thread may be diving in the same murky barrel. In the latter case, you are geographically talking about anywhere between 30 and 44 separate countries (depending on where you draw your “border”), all with their separate cultures. Including drinking cultures. Just taking the principal compass point countries, you’re comparing Norway, Spain, Russia and portugal.

But to answer your specific question, this elderly Briton doesnt drink alcohol and hasnt forthe last 21 years. That’s in line with about 20% of the UK population. Many of those do not drink because of issues of religious faith. That’s not me. I don’t drink because I’m an alcoholic.


I’m with @Harters in thinking maybe it’s best to remove the “vs.” thing altogether and just get people to recount their personal experiences without trying to make them represent entire countries or continents.

I’m American, and I drink a fair amount, especially for someone my size (<5’ tall, <95lbs) and gender (female). Recently, I pushed my “start time” from 5pm to 7:30pm, which is doing me some good. The only time I drink during the day is the very occasional bloody mary with brunch.


Here in the UK I’m cruising on 2 family sized whiskies and half a bottle of industrial red each evening. Rarely at lunchtime during the working week, but Sunday lunches can get a bit lively if my two twenty-something sons are in attendance. They drink like pissed fish.

Very much a family culture thing I think. My parents and parents-in-law did exactly the same, a meal without booze never, never happened, and all lasted deep into their 80s.

I know this is way in excess of any guidelines.

Like NotJrvedivici upthread, financial services is my background, and the bond market/LIFFE trading floor in the 1980s were not sober places.


Mrs. P and I are strictly red wine drinkers, and we also like ports for dessert. I only drink wine with dinner on the weekends (Friday through Saturday) and some holidays. We usually split a bottle between us and sometimes two if it is a large tasting menu. Mrs. P will continue to have her Black Box wine when we get home and she also has a glass or two during the week since she doesn’t work. I won’t drink during the work week.


Almost no one in my immediate family drank alcohol, period. Not my mother’s parents, my father’s mother (my grandfather on that side died when I was an infant, so I don’t know about him), or my father’s 2 brothers–they didn’t even have Passover wine. Occasionally, my parents would have a glass of wine (but not if it was “too dry”), and sometimes my dad would have a beer with BBQ. My dad used to get bottles of liquor from sales reps at Christmas, and they’d all be given away or earmarked for baking. However, there were drinkers in the extended family and a couple of alcoholics too.

My parents didn’t quite understand when my sister and I became social drinkers. I did start having a problem with alcohol in college and off and on afterwards–drinking to get drunk when I was feeling depressed–but I also started enjoying alcohol for how it tastes. I started learning more about beer and spirits/cocktails, and my wife, who was never much a drinker when I met her, did as well. We now have a first-class bar cart and regularly drink good beers.

However, we’re both lightweights and tend to get tipsy very easily (me more so than her). This means one cocktail per session and not having any other alcohol during the evening. When we could go to bars, I’d get the smallest size beer possible, and at home we actually split a single can or bottle of beer (even a 12 oz. can). As for wine, we have some bottles but find that less interesting than other types of alcohol. I also find that for me, the more alcohol I have with a meal (especially wine), the less I can eat. We once got treated to a meal at Le Bernardin in New York, and got the full-blown tasting menu because we could. However, the person who treated us ordered a lot of wine without asking us what we wanted, and I remember feeling very, very ill at the end of the meal.


When I used to go to bars. I would order a beer just for a prop . I only took a couple sips . Vodka is my choice.


Growing up in NYC the only alcohol in our house ever was an annual bottle of Manischewitz for Passover. When I was in my late teens, the wine was Boone’s Farm. I don’t think I ever had a beer before I was 18 and then it was Genesee Cream Ale before I upgraded to Molson.

Of course, a dry home never stopped me from drinking. Scotch (Dewar’s) and Vodka were my preferred choices to get drunk on with friends. The scotch was at parties and the vodka was for afternoon screwdrivers. We’d sit on a friend’s stoop with a quart of Tropicana orange juice on a hot afternoon. drink a third of the OJ and replace it with vodka. Then drink straight from the container. I was a functional alcoholic for most of the next 45 years. Occasionally, not so functional.

I don’t process alcohol as well as I used to so I’m down to 2-3 drinks on most nights, usually after dinner. If measured properly, it’s 3-4 I’m sure. It’s almost always beer, gin and tonic, vodka tonic, or cordials on the rocks (most often a Kahlua-type drink). Fortunately, I never developed a taste for wine and good wine is unavailable (for a reasonable price) where I live now (Thailand).

With the 12 hour time difference, I’m looking forward to that first drink in a little while. Thanks for allowing me the trip down memory lane.


I enjoy wine, cocktails -especially well made ones, some beers. I stopped drinking to get loaded in my 20’s. My high was always music and far too many of my mates over did alcohol…and still do… Cleaning them up, sobered me. I wanted to spend my time and money on guitars.

I don’t make it a habit of judging folks; how or when they indulge on anything. As long as it makes them happy.


My companion in life, who does drink, finds tasting menus tricky. Normal menus are fine. A couple of glasses of wine matched with starter and main course is easy to sort out. But, the variety of food you’ll get on a tasting menu means she can’t easily pair wine with each course. Unless she takes their wine flight but that’s usually too much booze. Fortunately, most places with tasting menus also employ a sommelier, whose advice she now seeks and whose advice is usually very reliable. So, they generally agree a pared down wine flight that might equate to three normal sized glasses over the course of the meal.

I dont generally drink during the work week…I live alone, and am working from home, and neither of those lend themselves well to imbibing much. I dont want to open a bottle for one glass, so I just don’t. (There are exceptions)

On the weekends, or at the rare socially distanced gathering with a small group, I’ll have a drink or two (bourbon is my distilled preference)

Theres the odd exception, but I hate being hung over, so I just avoid it.

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When we do tasting menus, we usually get one glass of wine, paired to the first course. After that, it’s water all the way, with maybe tea or coffee with dessert.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold