When you share a beer with someone, there's a certain understanding: you're both there to relax. Beer is, really, the universal language. The only issue, when traveling abroad, is ordering that beer in the first place (and knowing what to do with it without being rude). We're here to help.
As an overall consensus, there are a few pretty universal expectations throughout the world: The host gives the first toast (unless a guest of honor is elected to do so), an honored guest should return the toast later in the meal, and one should never start drinking before everyone's glass is full and a toast (if applicable) is given. In summary, be tactful. And enjoy.
Spain: How to order a beer: Una cerveza, por favor (oo-na thair-veh-tha, por fa-vor) How to say 'cheers': Salud (sah-lood) Note: In Spain, people drink socially for pleasure and are less inclined to binge drink. However, it is common for younger Spaniards (around college-age) to botellón, an outdoor gathering in a plaza with friends to drink from large bottles of beer, large bottles filled with mixed drinks, or boxed wine between the hours of 11pm to 3am or later.
France: How to order a beer: Une biére, s'il vous plaît (oon bee-air, seel voo pleh) How to say 'cheers': Santé (sahn-tay) Note: Be gentle with pouring -- never fill the glass more than half-way -- alcohol is something that is to be savored, not guzzled. Never drink before every single person has been served, and never fill your own glass.
Italy: How to order a beer: Una birra, per favore How to say 'cheers': Salute (sah-loo-tay) Note: Drinking without eating is rare. Hard drinking is unusual and normally not very appreciated. Cocktails are uncommon.
Portugal: How to order a beer: Uma cerveja, por favor (oo-ma ser-vay-ja, poor fa-vohr) How to say 'cheers': Saude (saw-OO-de) Note: Just drink to have fun and be sure to dance. Behave in moderation. Wine is the drink of choice (usually red, and then port for dessert).
Germany: How to order a beer: Ein Bier, bitte (ine beer, bitt-uh) How to say 'cheers': Prost (prohst) Note: You should always clink your glass with everyone near you at the table and make eye contact with everyone individually when someone makes a toast. People are commonly laughing, dancing, and toasting with steins held high in beer halls and beer gardens. There is no doubt Germans drink a lot -- but that doesn't mean they are irresponsible.
Ireland: How to order a beer: Pionta Guinness, le do thoil (pee-onta Guinness, lay doe hell), but obviously English works just as well. How to say 'cheers': Sláinte (slawnt-yeh or slant-yeh) Note: 'Rounds culture' is very important in Irish drinking etiquette. According to Irish Central, if you're out with Irish people, you'll certainly be offered a drink -- one person usually goes to the bar for everyone. This is called "getting your round in." Keep in mind that that offer is on the unspoken condition that you return the favor. It is also very important to pace yourself so as not to look foolish.
Russia: How to order a beer: Дайте мне пива (daite mne peva) How to say 'cheers': На здоровье (na zdorovie) Note: Lonely Planet says that vodka is strictly for toasting, not for casual sipping -- and it's never meant to be diluted with mixers. Men are expected to down shots in one gulp, while women are usually excused. Also, empty bottles can't be on the table -- they must be placed on the floor.
Czech Republic: How to order a beer: Pivo, prosím! (pee-vo, pro-seem) How to say 'cheers': Na zdraví (naz-drah vi) Note: Make very serious, direct eye contact with everyone you clink your drink with, and never cross arms with anyone during the process or else, as far as Czech superstition goes, you'll be cursed with seven years of unsatisfactory sex.
Denmark: How to order a beer: Jeg vil gerne have en øl (yay vil geh-neh heh en url) How to say 'cheers': Skål (skoal) Note: Be sure to maintain eye contact with your companions when your glass is raised.
Belgium: How to order a beer: (Dutch) Een bier, alsjeblieft (Un beer, ahls-yer-bleeft) or (French) Une biére, s'il vous plaît (oon bee-air, seel voo pleh) or (Flemish) Nog een bierke alsjeblieft (nog een beer-keh all-sye-bleeft) How to say 'cheers': Santé (sahn-tay) Note: Everyone has a deep appreciation of beer here. The Flemish raise their glasses twice during a toast: the glass is initially raised during the toast and then at its completion.
Sweden: How to order a beer: En øl, tack (ehn irl, tahk) How to say 'cheers': Skål (skawl) Note: Lonely Planet advises never to 'clink' glasses -- unless you're saying 'skål' with another person, while maintaining eye contact constantly -- it's considered vulgar.
Hungary: How to order a beer: Egy pohár sört kérek (edj pohar shurt kayrek) How to say 'cheers': Egészségedre (egg-esh ay-ged-reh) Note: Heavy drinking is common in Hungary. An empty glass is immediately refilled so if you do not want more to drink, leave your glass half full. Also, never clink glasses if drinking beer (for superstitious reasons). Palinka, a type of brandy and the national liquor, is very popular.
Greece: How to order a beer: άλλη μια μπύρα, παρακαλώ (ah-lee me-a bee-ra pah-rah-kah-lo) How to say 'cheers': στην υγειά σας (stin iyia mas) or γεια μας (yamas) Note: While Greeks consume copious amounts of wine, beer, and ouzo (a licorice-tasting liquor), public displays of drunkenness are a rare occurrence. Everything in moderation.
Turkey: How to order a beer: Bir bira, lütfen (beer beer-ah luht-fen) How to say 'cheers': Şerefe (sher-i-feh) Note: Drink a glass of Raki (or 'Lion's Milk"), the unofficial (the country is Muslim) national alcoholic drink of Turkey, leisurely over a meal with friends. If you're with a group of people, it is impolite to order your own glass -- instead order a bottle for the whole table.
Thailand: How to order a beer: (for women) Kho beer eek kaew ka (ko beer ik kae kaw) / (for men) Kho beer eek kaew krab (ko beer ik kae krab) How to say 'cheers': Chok dee Note: Drinking is approached with a gentle, content ease. Beer and whisky (which, in most places, can't be ordered by the glass -- only bottle or half-bottle) are the most common drinks. Your server will likely continue to fill your glass every time it's emptied below the half-way mark. Don't finish your drink in its entirety unless the most senior person at your table is ready to leave. Also, if you top off your own glass, make sure to top off everyone else's first.
Japan: How to order a beer: ビ一ルを一本下さい (bee-ru ip-pon ku-da-sai) How to say 'cheers': 乾杯 (kam-pai) Note: When drinking in Japan, never fill your own glass. Fill the person's drink next to you and wait for him or her to reciprocate.
China (Mandarin): How to order a beer: 请给我一杯啤酒 (ching gay woh ee bay pee joh) How to say 'cheers': 干杯 (gan bei) Note: The toast is a part of Chinese culture that is not taken lightly and is practiced frequently (often multiple times during a meal or gathering). It is important to fill every glass to the brim, serving the eldest first, but don't pour your own drink.Chinese consider drinking alone to be rude. When you raise your glass to clink, make sure the glasses of your superiors are held higher than yours, and finish the drink completely.
Korea: How to order a beer: 맥주 한잔 주세요 (mayk-joo hahn-jahn joo-se-yoh) How to say 'cheers': 건배 (gun bae) Note: Drinking in excess is common, but there is strict protocol. Never pour your own drink -- fill the cups of your elders/superiors and then wait to be served. Never fill another person's glass if it is already partially full. When you finally drink, turn away from those of higher rank than you as a sign of respect. If someone fills your cup for you, hold it with both hands. Soju, a sweet vodka-like liquor, is very popular.
Israel: How to order a beer: אוד בירה אחת בבקשה (od beera akhat bevakasha) How to say 'cheers': לחיים (l'chaim) Note: Toasts are generally for more formal events. Wine is unquestionably preferred to beer. It's not uncommon to see young people drinking beer on the street or enjoying a bottle of wine in the park.
According to Lonely Planet, 'shouting' drinks to a group is a revered custom in which people rotate paying for rounds of drinks. Do not leave without shouting a round!
Correction: Russian for "a beer, please" is not "Еще пива, пожалуйста" as previously stated. Also, Flemish was previously not included as a language under Belgium.