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An Introduction To The World Of Australian Drinking Slang

By: Shireen Jamooji

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Australian drinking culture is a world of colourful, raucous beauty and with it comes a host of fascinating local terms that surround the process. From coast to coast, Australians have coined a range of drinking slang that adds an extra layer of conviviality to their already lively gatherings.

But if you’re headed down under, you best be ready to keep up with their lingo if you want to be a part of the party. So grab a pint, get your best Aussie spirit together and let’s dive into the lexicon of Australian drinking slang and discover the phrases that bring a distinct flavour to their drinking experiences. 

Plonk

One of the most beloved terms, plonk is a term that also made it over the seas to Britain and began as a name for cheap, fortified wine but now generally refers to any sort of cheap alcohol. Some say it came from the sound liquid makes hitting the bottom of a glass, others say it was a mistranslation of the French, Vin Blanc (white wine)

Goon Sack

Speaking of cheap booze, Australia is the proud birthplace of boxed wine, and naturally, they have their own name for it too. The large foil bags which can be sold separately in quantities upwards of a litre are called Goon Sacks and when they come with a box, they’ll said to be from 
‘Chateau Cardboard’, a tongue-in-cheek reference to prestigious wine estates. 

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Shout

The concept of a "shout" is deeply ingrained in Australian drinking culture. When someone declares, "It's my shout," it means they're going to be coughing up the cash and buying rounds for their mates. This practice fosters camaraderie and ensures that no one is left with an empty glass for any longer than they need to.

Grog

This term has made it into the common drinking parlance but it began with Admiral Edward Vernon, who instructed his sailors to dilute their rum. Admiral Vernon, often referred to as Old Grog due to his grogram-fabric coat, influenced the practice of watering down rum, which subsequently adopted the name "grog."

Chardy

Back to the wine for this one, vino enthusiasts, particularly those fond of Chardonnay, the affectionate term "chardy" is commonly used. Whether you're at a wine bar or a backyard picnic, you might hear someone say, "I'll have a glass of chardy, please."

Shivoos

Pre-1970s, Aussies dubbed lively parties "shivoos." Some speculated it was a playful twist on French (chez vous for "your place" or shivaree for "a serenade of rough music"). Others connected it to British naval slang, denoting a boozy brawl or scuffle.

Tinnie

When it's time to crack open a can of beer, Australians affectionately refer to it as a "tinnie." Whether you're enjoying a beach day or a barbecue, the unmistakable sound of a tinnie being opened is synonymous with relaxation and good times.

Bottle-O

Where will you be finding your chardy and plonk? Head to the "bottle-o," short for bottle shop or liquor store. Australians use this term casually when referring to a place to buy their preferred tipple.