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Foreign Celebration: Man Down (Russia)


Looking to the Soviets for some drinking inspiration?


Try “Man Down”, a traditional Russian drinking blowout. This tradition arose out of the heavy drinking culture that has long permeated Russian society. In 1540, Tsar Ivan the Terrible raised government money by creating a state monopoly on vodka production, opening government-run vodka bars called kabaks.

In 1716, Peter the Great began and oversaw a legal reform including a booze licensing procedure. This opened the floodgates for non-government Russians to profit from the vodka-making business, which spurred the proliferation of private vodka factories. Peter himself routinely began and ended the day with a drink of vodka, often singlehandedly consuming multiple liters in a single day. Further, Peter the Great greeted each new foreign diplomat with a 1.5 liter mug, and required that diplomat to finish the contents in order to prove his trustworthiness.

vodka turnup

Aside from a Russian “prohibition” during Lenin’s 1917 Red Army takeover, heavy drinking and drinking games like Man Down have dominated the Russian landscape.

As a tribute to the Motherland, or rodina (родина), set up a game as follows:

(1)   Pick a cold, sheepskin-hat kind of day.

furry hat tunup

furry hat turn up

(2)   Grab a bottle of vodka. Stoli or Zyr works, but Russian Standard should be your go-to.

vodka turnup

Turn Up’s fav is Russian Standard.

(3)   Get at least three comrades, or tovarishch (товарищ).

(4)  Begin each drinking rounds with a cheers to good health: Budem zdorovi/ Na zdorovie (Будем здоровы/На здоровье)!

(5)  Remember: Keep drinking. You must not offend the Russians!


(6)   The game is over when someone falls.

(7)  Those still standing have to choice to party hard or go home.



Turn Up Tip: Know and respect your limits. Yes, that includes you, Friendly Russian. 


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Hel Ya

Helen Yang ("Hel Ya", Writer) synthesizes Turn Up's creative energies into online form. She has partied in cities outside of New York from L.A. to Shanghai. Hel Ya currently resides in Queens, NY.

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