For beer on a budget. head east, young man. And of course, you don't have to be young, or a man, to enjoy a cold lager on a sunny terrace, but anyway, judging the cost of a short break purely on the price of a pint, you’re looking at Eastern Europe. A happy drinker on Pintprice.com declares 'I love Bulgaria', chiefly it seems because a pint there sets them back a princely 41p. There are many good reasons to discover the edge-of-Europe city of Plovdiv, one of them being the price of a pint - a more-than-fair 57p. Or, what about Budapest, where you can combine a city break with a drinking break? A pint comes in at an eminently drinkable average of £1.10. Drinking in Budapest is even better in summer when the party heads outside to massive beer gardens.
Beer at a pound a pint is usually the preserve of student discos where your feet stick to the floor to an 'ironic' soundtrack of Wham! and Chesney Hawkes, but that’s the average price of a beer in Belgrade. Summer imbibing is best done on boats in Belgrade. When the sun has his hat on, bars and clubs spring up along the Rivers Danube and Sava on moored floats. Head to happening Gypsy Island to get the pints started, while for full-on hop hedonism, the Belgrade Beer Fest in August attracts half a million people every year – and it’s free.
A predictable choice perhaps, but we must nod tipsily in the direction of Munich, with its truly world-famous Ocktoberfest. As well as its beer tents, there’s a massive funfair to test your constitution after a few too many. You don't have to wait until autumn to get the Bavarian beers in, as they like their lager all year in Munich. A summer visit will reward you with the opportunity to booze in one of the city’s many, many beer gardens. You can even bring your own food – probably a sensible idea if you’re getting stuck into the steins.
Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder, so snuggle up with the object of your desire, or a beer, in a dark corner of a dishevelled dive, or a bright hipster hangout, in seedy/trendy Pigalle. Try Le Lautrec or Le Carmen - where there is no drinks menu, just a made-to-order policy. But a few Absinthe Friends there could be heavier on the pocket than a dinner cuise on the Seine, so for smaller budgets, what better than mind-bending spirits than free wine? Yes, FREE! In spring and summer, winemakers from the Rhone, the Loire and such head up to Paris to showcase their wares in tasting sessions au gratuit. The vin blanc, rouge and rosé is often served up with on-the-house snacks too. Check for food and wine events on Paris by Mouth. Spit it out? No chance!
Emporium of edible and non-edible Japanese products, the Japan Centre, in London’s West End, runs regular tastings of rice wine for the curious and the connoisseur. Get to know your Daiginjo from your Futsu-shu and take home a bottle from one of the largest selections of sake in Europe, to drink responsibly, of course.
There’s whisky and there’s whisky (well, there’s whisky and there’s whiskey, and then there's bourbon, but we won't go into that). But if you prefer your whisky without an ‘e’ and insist on a 15 year-old single malt, head to one of the two The Scotch Malt Whisky Society venues in Edinburgh, where you can take a joyous tour of Scotland’s whisky regions from Islay to Speyside from the comfort of a salubrious armchair. Freeloaders might consider a visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience, where a tour includes a sample of the national drink, as well as the chance to marvel at the world's largest collection of whisky. But the best value is to be had in a local pub (there are more per square mile than in any city in the world), many of which do cheap deals on a local ale accompanied by a traditional 'nip' of whisky. Alas, you usually have to be over 65 to qualify for this offer, for some reason.
Moscow might be a more obvious place to consume vodka, and no bad place it is, but ordering a vodka at a bar will cost a lot less in Kraków, so it gets the vote for spirit sampling. The beautiful old town conceals many bars housed in ornate buildings and atmospheric cellars that are the happy haunt of partying locals and backpackers necking cheap vodka by the vat-load. And the beer isn't bad either. Get them in!
Remember kids, if you do are partial to a drink or six on your holidays, be careful out there. Check out the facts at Drink Aware
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