Wednesday, June 3, 2015

真的吗:The Perfect Toast

My first encounter with the Chinese drinking culture was returning to my dorm one night and lunging out of the way of  two guys propping their drunk friend on each shoulder in an effort to carry him home. I remember concluding that the sanitation policy in China was so strict that, persons were not permitted to block drains here. This began my journey of respect towards all things alcohol related.

See becoming intoxicated displays your efforts in an attempt to out drink your boss or friends as the case may be and like two boxers in a ring, there are losers and winners. Winners are celebrated. Losers are laughed at but then graciously returned home to lick their wounds.

Drinking is so important that it dictates the mood of the entire meal and determines the direction in which the night's event would unfold. Two questions remain

What to drink?

Heavy drinkers are attracted to Chinese white liquor 白酒 which although labelled as 40%, packs a knockout punch from aroma to hangover. If you want to keep it light and fun, a local beer 啤酒 is available. The entire country agrees that Tsingtao 青岛啤酒 has the best brew but some how Snow Beer 雪花啤酒 has risen to the number one spot in sales locally and even internationally back in 2010. But at the root of it all, every city still boasts of their own concoction brewed to suit the weather and expectations of its citizens. Chonginqg's local beer is light and slightly bitter to fit the spicy dinners that it is usually paired with, very similar to that of Harbin but not quite as popular. And by light I mean watery. And the more watery the beer, the more glasses or bottles you drink.

There is no gender bias. Women drink freely as well. In fact, it you're up North, even models will out drink you. 


Back home we say' if you didnt want to dance why you go to the party'. However if for religious, dietary reasons you choose not to consume alcohol, you are still invited to the table. Just expect spend the night trying to keep up with the fun times.

How to drink?

Drinking has a lock and that key is toasting. And it must be done right. The glass of the toaster should be higher than that of the toastee in formal setting.

Clink and they're off
Toasting can lead to one or two things. IF you are bestowing blessings to one's health and wealth, toast and sip...If you hear the words 'GAN BEI!' 干杯 it's time to drink until you make eye contact with the bottom of your glass.

Of course no pouring is actually necessary. Drink from the straight from the bottle. Note  that the bottle are almost half a liter. This goes on until someone forgets what's going on. Then it's time to hit a karaoke bar!


It's a dark cycle, alcohol consumption. Betraying to the unaware, but not before a roller-coaster of emotions, each liquor type offering a different version of the ride. But hey, some ride it for thrill. Enjoy it while it last.