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Romania Drinks The Most Alcohol Out Of Any Country Worldwide

Romanian flag behind beer bottles
Romanian flag behind beer bottles - Static Media / Shutterstock

With picturesque glaciers, majestic volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, and ancient salt mines sprawling across its 92,046 square miles of awe, Romania is a treasure trove of geological marvels. But, there's more than meets the eye: According to a sobering report by the World Health Organization (WHO), Romanians top the charts with a staggering 17 liters of alcohol consumed annually per person aged 15 and above. For those who don't think in metrics, that translates to about 4.5 gallons of absolute alcohol. To put things into perspective, the global average is 5.5 liters (1.45 gallons) per capita.

Digging deeper, it turns out this isn't a new storyline. Statistics from an OECD report revealed that in 2019, as much as 55% of all Romanian male adults were heavy episodic drinkers. In party terms, that's one in three adults knocking back six standard drinks in a single sitting at least once a month. This small southeastern European country, home to a relatively modest population of 19.7 million, apparently boasts a drinking culture that's as deep-rooted as its caves and as bold as its mountains.

Read more: The 40 Absolute Best Cocktails That Feature Only 2 Ingredients

Tracing Romania's Alcohol Tradition

glasses of alcohol being raised
glasses of alcohol being raised - Gilaxia/Getty Images

Over 2,000 years ago, before the epic Dacian Wars, ancient Romanians were already mastering the art of vine cultivation. Thanks to the country's rollercoaster landscapes, drenched in just the right amounts of sunshine and rain, and basking in ideal temperatures, Romania became a haven for vines and wines. This enduring passion for grapevines has long energized Romania's economy and culture, embedding wine deeply into its heritage.

Romania is also a heavyweight champion in the world of plums, despite a recent decline. According to the International Society for Horticultural Science, a good chunk (85% in the past, but closer to 35-45% nowadays) of the country's plums embark on a magical transformation into the legendary plum brandy known as țuică. With an alcohol content that can rocket up to 60%, țuică is the unsung hero of Romanian gatherings, unofficially claiming the title of the national drink. Many Romanian men take pride in brewing țuică at home, and offering a glass is a warm gesture you'll likely encounter everywhere from backyard barbecues to grandiose weddings.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Romania's affinity for spirits is not unique in Europe, which averages higher than any other region in the world at 9.2 liters per person. This lively European tradition of raising a glass (or two) celebrates rich cultural histories and social bonds. As everyone toasts to these traditions, it's also cool to sip with a bit of wisdom, blending our cheers to the past with a nod to healthy living.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.