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    I Lived In Scotland For Two Years — Here Are 19 Ways The Partying Culture Is Different In Scotland Vs. The US

    More than just "whisky" versus "whiskey."

    You've watched the whisky-swilling clans on Outlander throw down around bonfires, and Sean Connery suavely sweep women off their feet. The Scottish party hard, and they're proud of it.

    View of Edinburgh
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    Here are some differences I observed, during my two-year stint living in Scotland, between how Americans and Scottish party.

    Note: This is all personal observation, so I may be biased or limited in what I experienced or saw, and this list is not representative of all Scottish people.

    1. Pubs are a way of life.

    UK pub scene
    Anthony Devlin / Getty Images

    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. Hung over 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.

    2. Beer is okay in the middle of the day.

    pint being poured from the tap
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    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.

    3. It's cheaper to party.

    people partying
    Hiraman / Getty Images

    Drinking in Scotland, even in its capital city, Edinburgh, is a lot cheaper than in London or New York. A pint of beer from the tap averages £3–£4, and a single pour of a decent scotch like Glenfiddich is only £5. Did we mention how cheap the Mandy is?

    4. "Light" beer doesn't exist.

    glass of beer
    Javier Zayas Photography / Getty Images

    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).

    5. There are more teenagers in bars.

    bar counter
    Solstock / Getty Images

    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 clubgoers should definitely check IDs.

    6. It's "whisky," not "whiskey."

    Bottle of whisky
    The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Images

    Because of 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.

    7. There's a musical component.

    older scots singing and drinking
    Mixetto / Getty Images

    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.

    Sidenote: 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.

    8. One word: “Buckfast.”

    bottle of buckfast
    Craig Williamson — Sns Group / Getty Images

    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?

    9. Scots hold their liquor better.

    traditional scottish reel dance
    Duncan1890 / Getty Images

    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.

    10. Seltzers aren't as ubiquitous.

    Truly hard seltzer
    Rob Kim / Getty Images

    This goes hand in hand with their disdain for light beer, but while seltzers have started to pick up in popularity (Loch Lomond and Tennent's both launched hard seltzers recently), they are still not as common as in 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!

    11. Kebabs are a staple.

    doner kebab
    Tracey Kusiewicz / Getty Images

    After a night out on the town, everybody stumbles drunk at 3 a.m. 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.

    12. Drugs are readily available.

    cocaine being slipped into a pocket
    Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

    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,'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 number of drug-related deaths in the EU. Although, now it's not in the EU, so...

    13. Molly is called Mandy.

    crystals of MDMA
    Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

    MDMA, Molly, Mandy — a rose by any other name will fuck you up just as much. In the UK, they call it Mandy.

    14. The women are less reserved.

    girls on a night out
    Bojanstory / Getty Images

    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 girls boarding schools, tend to be less self-conscious about drinking and partying.

    15. They don't drink and drive (as much).

    shot glass next to car keys
    Alejandrophotography / Getty Images

    While drinking and driving happens more in Scotland's countryside, it is extremely rare to see drunk drivers in the cities, especially compared with the US. The legal limit for consuming alcohol and driving in Scotland is much lower than in 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.

    16. Young kids drink in the park.

    group of teens drinking outdoors
    Wundervisuals / Getty Images

    Many Scottish teenagers who are not allowed to drink in pubs yet often congregate in parks. They'll pool their allowances, hang out around convenience stores, give a sketchy-looking adult 20 quid (keep the change) for a bottle of Buckfast or MD2020, and pass it around in their local park.

    17. Lots of people still smoke cigarettes.

    female cigarette smoker
    Dusan Ilic / Getty Images

    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.

    18. Okay, this is a UK thing, but: Wetherspoons.

    Wetherspoons in London
    Sopa Images / Sopa Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

    British institution Wetherspoons is just as ubiquitous in Scotland as in England, and the affordable pub chain may be one of the few things the Scots and the English 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?

    19. Partying ends with a proper fry-up the next morning.

    Scottish breakfast
    Lauripatterson / Getty Images

    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) a tattie scone (a small pressed potato pancake), a healthy slice of haggis, black pudding (blood pudding), fried eggs, fried tomatoes, a 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.

    What differences have you noticed? Let us know in the comments!

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