Wednesday, 18 January 2012

New Feature: Booze Tourism

When people go on holiday they buy souvenirs, don’t they? And they also buy cheap booze in duty free – because we love a bargain. By the time I get to the airport to return home there’s no money left in my bank account, so I’ve never had any budget left for booze. That’s what duty free’s there for, isn’t it? One last chance to get rid your remaining holiday budget – because in the old days people went to a travel shop and changed their money into foreign currency. Then, if they had any left on the way home, they’d try to spend it.

That doesn’t really happen so much anymore, since the age of multinational banking and debit cards that work (nearly) anywhere – not for my generation anyway.

Until about five years ago, I never bought any souvenirs on holiday, until I realised it was a great way to find obscure football shirts that I could wear to 5-a-side on a Monday night. And last year, inspired by a burgeoning interest in alcoholic beverages, I became a booze tourist.

You’ll have to excuse me if I go a bit snobby here for a moment. A booze tourist isn’t someone that buys duty free Smirnoff at the airport on the way home because they can get a litre for the same price as it usually costs to get 70cl, or buys a case of French wine that’s £1.99 a bottle. Or that 2 bottle pack of Johnny Walker Red that’s 20 Euros, not because it’s nice (because it isn’t) but because it’s 20 Euros - for two bottles of whisky. It’s not someone that goes to Prague with 5 mates, so that they can go to titty bars and drink lager at 30p a pint. A booze tourist does a bit of research before they go on holiday, and looks for special drinks that are indigenous to their destination.

The advantages of this are threefold: 1. It gives you something to be actively involved in during your stay,2. You can find interesting and tasty stuff that can be hard or impossible to locate at home (it seems nearly every country has its own strong liquor) and 3. It’s cheaper to buy these things from close to the source than from a supermarket, off licence or importer.

So begins a new feature at Drink it How You Like it. Look out for part one – Venice, which starts next week. I’ll be looking (briefly) at traditional Venetian souvenirs, before telling you a bit about my trip, and a bit more about how I became a booze tourist during  June of last year.


  1. I love booze tourism. Did you every try that stuff I bought back from Hungary? We never did work out if it was for drinking or cleaning...

  2. Was that the rubbing alcohol? Sozbollox or something? I tried that. If you've got anything interesting (vodka from Russia, perhaps?) bring it over on the 4th.

  3. Yes, it was Sozbollox. SÓSBORSZESZ actually, but it became refered to as Sozbollox. We were limited by what we could carry in Russia. The vodka was cheap but nothing special. Vodka is vodka, or is that for another post...

  4. Yes, I am indeed planning an investigation into vodka - including one that looks specifically at vodkas that are named after Russian literary figures. That's likely to be some way off yet, though.