(Note: This is all personal observation, so I may be biased or limited to what I experienced or saw and this list is not representative of all Scottish people).
Hanging out with the boys? Let’s go to the pub. Girls night out? Let’s go to the pub. Reading a good book? Nurse a whisky at the pub. Hungover in the morning? Let’s get a proper fry-up at the pub. A proper Scottish pub should feel like a safe, cozy, slightly damp-smelling cave to seek respite from the probably foggy, rainy Scottish outdoors.
A surefire way to spot American tourists in any Scottish city is to eavesdrop on their drink order. An entire table ordering water for lunch, especially at a pub? Stars, stripes, and sobriety.
Drinking in Scotland, even in its capital city Edinburgh, is a lot cheaper than London or New York. A pint of beer from the tap averages 3 to 4 pounds, and a single pour of a decent scotch like Glenfiddich is only 5 pounds. Did we mention how cheap the Mandy is?
Ask for light beer in a Scottish pub and you’ll likely get a blank look. If you’re unlucky, the bartender may follow up with something like, “what about watered-down piss instead?” For those seeking “light” Scottish beers, try Tennent’s (they don’t make low-calorie versions, but their lagers are less hoppy and heavy).
The legal drinking age in Scotland is 18, but children under 18 may order wine or beer with a meal if the restaurant or pub allows it. This means you may run into quite a few teenagers on a drunk night out in the bar scene. Older American club-goers should definitely check IDs.
Due to historical shifts in the bottling industry, the US takes after Ireland in the spelling of “whiskey,” rather than the Scottish “whisky.” Most other countries in the world take after the Scottish spelling. You say “whiskey,” I say “whisky,” we all get drunk.
Oh, the bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond. The Scottish love to drink, and they love to sing, and they sing a lot when they drink. At some point during a night out, you WILL be belting along.
(Side note: My Scottish friends, when very drunk, will play the Braveheart soundtrack (yes, we all know it’s shot by an Australian dickhead) and unironically sing along.)
Ahhh, Buckfast. Buckfast is a caffeinated, fortified strong wine originally brewed by Benedictine monks. Scotland’s favorite brew boasts an alcohol volume of 15% and a higher caffeine concentration than Red Bull — all for 7 quid a bottle. As a Glaswegian would say, it’s the drink of “young Neds (non-educated delinquents).” Buckfast for breakfast, anyone?
This stereotype proved true during my time in Scotland, and I think it’s because Americans don’t start drinking in bars until their early twenties. I’m not encouraging underage drinking or teen alcoholism (which is rampant), but perhaps learning how their bodies react to alcohol and overcoming the novelty of being drunk at a younger age is why my Scottish friends seem to fall over less than my American ones on a night out.
This goes hand-in-hand with their disdain for light beer, but while seltzers have started to pick up popularity (Loch Lomond and Tennent’s both launched hard seltzers recently), they are still not as common as the US. Bartenders also may judge you more for ordering a hard seltzer instead of a pint or a scotch; but hey, we don’t drink to please others!
After a night out on the town, everybody stumbles drunk at 3 a.m. in the morning to their local kebab shop. Along with traditional “mystery meat roasted on a spit in a pita” offerings, kebab shops in the UK offer delectable surprises such as “pizza” with indiscernible types of cheese, chips (fries) with curry, and many deep-fried delights. One top choice for the crew to split is a “munchie box,” a boxed sampler bouquet of all the shop’s treats that feeds four people and costs 10 quid.
I’ve partied in every major Scottish city, from the (slightly) bougier capital of Edinburgh to the port city of Aberdeen and gritty Glasgow. Coke, MDMA, pills…it’s commonplace in any Scottish party scene. In Glasgow, people can apparently get their cocaine delivered like Uber Eats. Unfortunately, Scotland also has the dubious honor of having the highest amount of drug-related deaths in the EU. Although, now it’s not in the EU so…
MDMA, Molly, Mandy — a rose by any other name will fuck you up as much. In the UK, they call it Mandy.
Yes, American women CAN party just as hard as Scottish ones — but watch one episode of an American reality show versus a UK one and see the difference. From what I’ve noticed, Scottish women, especially those who went to female boarding schools, tend to be less self-conscious about drinking and partying.
While drinking and driving happens more in Scotland’s countryside, it is extremely rare to see drunk drivers in the cities, especially compared to the US. The legal limit for consuming alcohol and driving in Scotland is much lower than the US, and the penalties are harsher. This is also because UK public transportation is more efficient than the spread-out US, and the narrow, winding roads are more difficult to navigate.
Many Scottish teenagers who are not allowed to drink in pubs yet often congregate in parks. They’ll pool their allowance, hang out around convenience stores and give a sketchy-looking adult twenty quid (keep the change) for a bottle of Buckfast or MD2020, and pass it around in their local park.
Vaping is slowly taking over the world, but in Scottish bars you’re still more likely to see people holding on to the dubious tradition of old-fashioned cigarettes. Hand-rolled, of course, because a pack of pre-rolled cigarettes will cost you $15.
British institution Wetherspoons is just as ubiquitous in Scotland as England, and the affordable pub chain may be one of the few things the Scots and the English may totally agree on. However, the Wetherspoons’ founder and owner is an asshole who fired his entire workforce at the start of lockdown… Is that how they keep their pints less than a pound and a half?
After a long night out, hungover Scots will be shoveling down a “proper fry up.” A proper Scottish fry-up includes (but is not limited to): tattie scone (A small pressed potato pancake), healthy slice of haggis, black pudding (blood pudding), fried eggs, fried tomatoes, SQUARE sausage, beans…
A Scottish fry-up differs from the “full English” in the black pudding and haggis, and always features a square sausage rather than (or along with) wieners or links.
News – I Lived In Scotland For Two Years — Here Are 19 Ways The Partying Culture Is Different In Scotland Vs The US