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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

Vietnamese Bars Are Built for Binge Drinking


New "beer clubs" are designed to encourage Vietnam's rising culture of binge drinking—and to clean up the aftermath.

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Caution: appetite spoilers ahead. Ever drank so much you puked before you even left the bar? If so, you might’ve felt at home in one of Vietnam’s pro-binge drinking “beer clubs,” some which even have sinks designed for vomiting. Most Vietnamese drinking used to take place at restaurants—and mainly by men. But times are changing with the advent of “beer clubs,” which are basically the Vietnamese version of a bar. As Vice reports, these venues “serve huge quantities of beer from chilled plastic towers while ear-splitting music plays in the background.”

Vice paid a visit to one of these beer halls, “Hangover IV,” named after the American blockbuster film about a group of dudes who make some seriously bad boozy bad decisions and then have to pay for it the next day. The bar sounds like a kind of reverse AA-meeting, its walls plastered with pro-drinking slogans like: “Good people drink good beer,” “Keep calm and drink beer,” and “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy beer and that’s kind of the same thing.”

But all that “happiness” can take its toll. In keeping with the bar’s name, in the back are the “lavabos” (puke sinks), with wide drains specifically to handle vomit.

Binge drinking is fast becoming a big problem in Vietnam, growing at a rate of about 10% annually in recent years. “Consumption in Vietnam has increased continuously, especially among young people and women,” said Vu Thi Minh Hanh, deputy director of the Health Strategy and Policy Institute. She said the Vietnamese are consuming more than 18 million gallons of liquor a year, and about 800 million gallons of beer. But how much of it is staying down?