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Drinking Age in Moscow

There has been much debate over the drinking age in Moscow. Russia is a drinking country and is well known for its vodka consumption. The legal drinking age listed in the law books is eighteen. However, for the most part this law has been ignored and the drinking age is not enforced.
When and Where to Drink

In Moscow getting drunk is not limited to the weekends. Many young people as well as people who are well off visit pubs and nice bars almost every night of the week. They typically get drunk most nights, not vomiting drunk, but numb.

It is common for older Russians to gather with friends at one’s home to eat and drink lots of vodka. In most social situations there is a ritual to the drinking. People are not simply nursing their bottle of beer or swishing down a glass of vodka at random. Drinks are first poured and then a toast will be made. For particularly touching toasts, like those in memory of a cherished friend or loved one the glass will be emptied.

It is common to see people in Russia drinking on the trains as the rides tend to be long. There is also drinking at the workplace. If it is someone’s birthday co-workers will toast during the work day. This is typically followed by something to eat.


Alcoholism is a serious problem in Russia. Even among the poor there are certain rules of conduct that come with drinking. Ideally you should always drink in groups of three and if you cannot afford to eat a bite of bread after each shot of vodka you should just sniff it. These rules of conduct make drinking more of a ritual in the country and you do not see a lot of binge drinking because of it.

Alcohol is an integral part of Russian culture, which makes it very difficult for alcoholics to stop drinking completely. Most people do not understand that if you are an alcoholic you cannot just have one drink to toast someone you lost.
New Laws and Interesting Facts about Alcohol in Russia

In 2005 there were amendments made to the laws regarding the sale of alcohol that prohibit the sale of alcohol to minors. Salespeople are required to card any customer that they have doubts about the age of.

Some of the interesting facts about Russia and alcohol include:

  • Consumption of vodka in the country grows three percent annually. This growth has slowed a bit, but three percent represents a 5 litre increase in consumption annually per capita.
  • For decades mixing other flavors with vodka was considered taboo in the country, but now 23% of Russians are accepting flavored vodkas.
  • Russians are branding conscious about their vodka based on fears of dangerous bootleg vodka. These fears have also led to an increase in the sale of low alcohol products such as wine mixers.
  • The amount of alcohol consumption in the country ranges from 14 to 18 litres of pure alcohol each year.




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