It's no secret that Europe isn't as afraid of alcohol as we prudish Americans; parents routinely mix a little wine into their kids' water, and teenagers routinely know how to drink before heading off to university. French and Italians simply don't have the binge-drinking culture, so wantonly drunk people are considerably rarer on the streets of Milan or Marseille than they are on the streets of, say, Santa Ana.
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Aaaaaand then there's Russia, where men at a business dinner will be exhorted by an angry-looking waitress to "drink, drink, you didn't even finish one bottle of vodka; what kind of men are you, anyway?"
So popular is vodka in Russia that lighter fermented beverages such as beer and kvass are considered soft drinks and sold from kiosks and vending machines. The Russians are famously hard-drinking, among the most prolific imbibers in the world.
Well, that's about to change, according to the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph: For the first time, beer will be considered alcohol and subject to the same restrictions as vodka. While this isn't quite as strict as the American experiment with teetotalling known as Prohibition, it is causing consternation, especially the part about the maximum container size being 33 centiliters (about 11 U.S. fluid ounces, or one sip short of a longneck beer bottle).
The Duma, Russia's parliament, is to be congratulated for the attempt, but we'd like to call attention to the fact that technically, alcohol in the United States is not available to under-21s, and of course nobody in the U.S. has ever had a sip of liquor before the age of majority. Of course not. Right?