Drinking Tips from Uncle Greg- Part Two

Drinking Tips from Uncle Greg- Part Two 1024 684 Greg Ellifritz

I’m honestly shocked.  When I looked at my website analytics page, I saw that my article  Drinking Tips from Uncle Greg garnered the most pageviews of any of the articles I’ve written here in the last nine months.

It’s not the vital safety information I convey that brings people to my site.  Posts about day drinking at an all-inclusive resort spark the interests of far more readers.  Noted!


To capitalize on what my audience desires, I’m going to add yet another drinking tip for holiday vacations.


All inclusive resorts generally serve their guests unlimited alcoholic beverages at their bars.  It’s kind of rare for a guest in one of these resorts to bring their own alcohol since they drink for free at the hotel bars.


Consequently, it’s sometimes hard to find a bottle opener if you choose to drink anything but the house draft beer and well drinks.


Last week, the free beer started getting old.  Mexican draft Tecate light isn’t a particularly tasty beer.  I soon grew tired of drinking it and wandered down the street to one of Mexico’s ubiquitous OXXO convenience stores.  They had a nice selection of Mexican craft beers.  I bought a few to try them out.


My favorite of the Mexican craft beers I tried.


I got back to my room and realized even though I had a partial kitchen, there were no bottle openers anywhere in the room. The lack of bottle openers is common at all-exclusives.  Who needs a bottle opener when everyone is drinking free alcohol from the bar?


Fortunately, I planned ahead for such contingencies.  I had a bottle opener in the multi-tool I carry whenever I’m in a foreign country, but it was buried in my locked suitcase.  Always have a backup plan, especially when drinking.


The bottle opening backup plan I’ve used for the last 15 years ago is utilizing the brilliant Reef Fanning flip-flop.  I took off my flip-flop and used it to open my beer.


I’m not normally a flip-flop guy.  I can’t run well in them.  I can’t kick well in them.  It’s far easier to damage your foot or lose your balance and fall in a fight while wearing them.  I reserve flip-flops for the beach, the pool, or communal showers.  As I was staying at a beach resort, I brought my Reef flip-flops.


Why are the Reef Fanning flip-flops germane to this conversation?  Because they have bottle openers built into their soles.  Look at the photo below.


Reef flip-fops with integrated bottle opener


These sandals are exceptionally well padded and quite comfortable to wear.  The bottle opener comes in handy far more than you might think it would.  They are the only flip-flops I’ve traveled with since I bought my first pair in 2007.


If you are a serious drinker, you will embrace the concept of tactical redundancy.  You can never have too many bottle openers.  This style of footwear exemplifies the multiple use capability of the gear that makes travelers’ lives easier.
Buy a pair of these.  Take them on your next holiday and you’ll never have to worry about packing a bottle opener in your luggage.






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Drinking Tips from Uncle Greg

Drinking Tips from Uncle Greg 480 640 Greg Ellifritz

I don’t often stay in all inclusive resorts, but I wanted an easy travel experience in Mexico so I’m enjoying one right now.


One of the things that I hate about all-inclusives that serve free alcohol is that the cups in which they serve the drinks are universally tiny.

Here is the tiny cup containing the margarita I ordered poolside.  It’s difficult to see the scale, but it’s only slightly larger than a urine sample cup you’d get at the doctor’s office.  Suboptimal for a professional drinker like me.


Here’s a secret I learned more than a decade ago.  Whenever I go to an all-inclusive, I always bring my own large cup.  I use a large plastic cup I got at a local festival years ago.  Some folks use insulated Yeti-style cups, but I don’t like packing the extra weight in my bag.  The big plastic cup I use weighs next to nothing.



Much better.  I can get about four of the tiny margaritas into a cup this size.  It makes it easy to stay hydrated (or intoxicated if you prefer) and limits your waiter’s trips to the bar.


Speaking of waiters, tip your waiter well and he or she will treat you right.  I find in the developing world $10 a day per person to be a decent tip.  You’ll get your money back with your drinks being constantly refreshed and usually heavier pours.  It’s money well spent and it helps change the perspective of the “Ugly American” who doesn’t tip at all inclusives.


As to my drink of choice, I prefer a frozen margarita with extra tequila and a salted rim.  The crushed ice and salt help counteract some of the dehydrating effects of the alcohol.  It’s cool and refreshing in the hot sun as well.


I find that when I’m sipping on the beach, I can finish one of these about every 45 minutes.  Out of curiosity, I brought my portable blood alcohol breath tester with me on this trip.  At the one drink every 45 minute pace yesterday afternoon I ended with a blood alcohol concentration of .062.  Perfect.  A pleasant mellow mood without any danger of becoming too intoxicated in a foreign country.


Stay hydrated folks.



Drinking Alcohol Safely in Foreign Countries

Drinking Alcohol Safely in Foreign Countries 540 720 Greg Ellifritz

Have you heard news reports about tourists being served tainted, poisoned, or adulterated alcohol in foreign countries?

It’s relatively rare, but it certainly happens.  There have been a couple recent articles written that provide tips to avoid being poisoned.  If you want some background info, check out:

How to Drink Safely On Vacation

Know the Risks When Drinking Spirit-Based Alcohol Away From Home


All of that is great advice, but I’ll share some additional experiences from nearly two decades of consuming homemade and locally made alcohol in third world countries.  To establish my drunken bona fides, here is some photographic evidence of my taste for third world hooch.


Roadside moonshine in El Salvador


Local rum with a friend in Cartegena, Colombia


I have no idea what the bartender is pouring down my throat. Bogota, Colombia


After the shots in Bogota, we set the bar and ceiling on fire with local moonshine.


Guifitty, a local rum/herb mixture in Honduras.


Home made rice wine on the street in Saigon, Vietnam.


With my bartender in Tanzania drinking banana beer


Mixing moonshine and Tang to create a beverage that tasted OK despite no refrigeration on an un-named island off the coast of Panama.


Buying moonshine straight from the still (in an old Jagermeister bottle) in rural Costa Rica.


Despite all of these insane adventures, I’m still here.  And I’m not even blind.  Here’s my personal strategy when evaluating the local stuff.


As a person who has enjoyed local brews on five different continents, I can tell you there is a safe way.  You don’t buy this stuff at your resort or at a tourist liquor store.  You ask a local to take you to the person who makes it.  Taxi drivers, hotel concierge staff, and tour guides know where to get the local homemade brew.


When you arrive you ask to sample a shot.  Of course, you are polite and offer to buy the seller a shot as well so that he drinks with you.  If he won’t drink his own brew, run away.  If he drinks with you (out of the same bottle) you are probably pretty safe.   I’ve done this a lot of places and I’m not blind yet.


It’s safest to buy your own alcohol at the duty free shop in the airport, but where’s the fun in that?  If you want to try something a bit more adventurous, remember my strategy.