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Unwritten Rules of Hungarian Pub Culture


Hungary has a very long relationship with alcohol. Earliest written memories mention delicious wines, made from sweet red grapes that grow on the green slopes of our beautiful mountains. We’ve come a long way since then, Hungarian wine is now world famous, our signature spirit, pálinka is getting more and more popular abroad, and finally we are starting to have some craft beer as well. If you visit Hungary, you must have a drink in a bar – or while you’re on a beerbiking trip - trying to follow these unwritten rules.

Ladies second!

When you cross any door, for a man the polite thing to do is to let the lady go first although it’s unclear if this is an actual act of politeness or just an excuse for men to check out the lady’s behind. In a pub, however, it’s always men who enter first. Why? Because in case of a bar fight there could be some knife throwing in there, and if there’s a knife flying towards the window, the man must take the shot. It’s an honor to lose your life defending someone else’s but in the off chance of running into a bar fight involving knives, you better run.

Say please!

Bartenders are tough guys. They work hard every day to cater to the customers’ every need. They put a smile on their faces, even if they have the most horrible day ever. They are good in making small talk, but as we get deeper into the night, you might find that they are actually pretty good partners for a conversation. One thing they don’t like is a customer who doesn’t respect them, and asks for a beer as if he was giving orders. They are the ones who serve you, be decent, and say: please! This one little word makes all the difference in the world.


Pálinka is our answer to vodka, gin and tequila. This spirit is made of fruits, in most cases plum, pear or peach, but you can find ones that are made of cherry, apricot, apple, walnut or poppy seed. Hungarians all have at least fun funny pálinka related drinking story, and everyone has an uncle who makes some at home from his home grown fruits, and is so strong, it makes your stomach jump. If you’re in a bar, be sure to try pálinka, the staff will appreciate!

Cheers – Egészségedre

After you’ve got your order, it’s customary to clink glasses, and say cheers! Since Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages in the world, we really appreciate any attempt to learning even just a single word. Unfortunately for you, the word cheers is not an easy one: Egészségedre! It literally means, to your good health. Phonetically: [ˈɛɡeːʃːeːɡɛdrɛ], but ask anyone in the bar, they’ll be happy to help you.


In all bars and some restaurants tips are not included in the price. If you are satisfied with the service be generous, tip at least 10%. If you aren’t satisfied or you’re flat broke and the prices are already high, don’t tip. Nobody gets angry if a customer won’t tip. It’s also a good idea to look for jars on the bar with a green lid, since lot of the places raise money for a movement, which cooks for the less fortunate. If you got some extra change you don’t want to deal with, throw it in there, it might be a whole lunch for someone else!

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