Drinking Etiquette in Rio

Nightlife, Travel Tips, What's New — By Lucy Bryson on April 3, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Drinking in Santa Teresa

Like many things in Rio de Janeiro, drinking etiquette in the city is not as straightforward as one might imagine.

A complex set of unwritten rules come into play when heading out for a drink in Rio, and failure to observe them could lead to some serious social faux-pas.

The most important of these unwritten drinking rules revolves around the larger bottles of beer that are sold at countless bars in Rio de Janeiro.

If you don’t want to become a social pariah, take note – these bottles are not intended for solo consumption.

The steamy, sticky heat in Rio de Janeiro means that beer tends to become warm very quickly, so these large bottles are intended to be drunk quickly, among friends.

When you order a garrafa (bottle), you will be asked how many glasses you want. Ask for as many cups as there are people in your party – although if there are more than four you’ll need to ask for two bottles or you’ll end up with a mere drizzle in each glass!

If it’s a hot day, you’ll need to ask for a thermal insulator to keep the beer cool. Interestingly, the name for this – camisinha – is also the slang term for a condom. It literally translates as ‘little shirt’, which kind of makes sense, but it can be a little alarming to hear what sounds like people asking the bar tender for a condom every time they order a drink!

Once you’ve got your well-chilled bottle, be prepared to share. Should you make a new acquaintance, it is good form to offer them a glass of the beer. This may mean that your drink only lasts a few minutes, but don’t worry, most Cariocas will be quick to call in the next beer.

Should all this sound a little too confusing, you can avoid the potential for social slip-ups by asking for a draught beer (chopp) or a single-sized bottle, which goes by the odd English term ‘long neck’. (These bottles do, indeed, have quite long necks, but quite why the name is in English and not Portuguese is anyone’s guess…).

Tags: beer, drinking in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro bars, Rio nightlife

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