Monday, May 31, 2010

¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa' dentro!

Personally, I consider this piece of Spanish a "must know".  Maybe that's because I spend so much time in bars when I go to Mexico, but that's another story, albeit related.

It's pretty much a worldwide custom to make a toast while you have a few drinks friends or celebrate a special occasion.  In America, we say "cheers", as you well know.  But in Spanish, you say ¡salud!

But personally, I find that particular toast a bit plain, which brings us to the topic of today's post.

¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa' dentro!

While we can make a literal translation, there's no equivalent expression in English that I'm aware of. Memorize this and say it right before you slam down your favorite tequila, or whatever your drink of choice is.   OK, maybe you don't have to slam it down, but it might make the night more interesting.

So here's how it works, so pay close attention (fijense bien) because the physical mechanics of this toast are crucial.  OK, maybe crucial is a bit much, but the motions come with the phrase.

At each step, be sure to "clink" or touch glasses.

"Arriba" (Literally translates to "up".  Touch the rim of your glasses)
(Literally translates to "down". Touch the bottom of your glasses)
"Al centro" (Literally translates to "center". Touch the middle of your glasses)
"Pa' dentro or Adentro" (Literally translates to "inside".  Drink from glass immediately, bottoms up!)

You probably noticed the pal in front of the first three steps on the image.  That's just a contraction for para al.   The pa on step four is a contraction for para.  You can toast with or without the contractions up to step three.  You have to say pa or para on step four.

Also, our image shows the glass literally being held high and low, but those movements are exaggerated.  You'll hold your glasses in the same position as you would making other toast and just go through the motions I described.

Here's a variation of this wonderful toast.  The words have changed (just a little) but motions are the same.

Arriba, abajo, al centro, con un movimiento, el vaso a la boca y todo adentro

Simple, right?  Well, I say you head to the closest cantina (bar) and practice this until you get it right.

Also be sure to visit my sister blog and read my post 3 Ways to ask for happy hour specials in Spanish.

And lastly,  for 20+ more bar/drinking phrases and over 1600 useful Spanish phrases total on your Android device, check out My Spanish Phrasebook.

¡Cuidense amigos!


  1. This is great....much practice may be needed to get both hands well coordinated! I'll practice with friends, first.

  2. Salute mi amigo!!!! Esta frase we mui importante aqui in Mexico. I hope that was sort of right! This is one of the first things I learned when I moved here!

  3. quite popular in Basque areas too, from my trip in June '10

  4. nice note! i enjoy this toast myself!

  5. I do this everytime me and my girls are in the mexican nite club

  6. The traslation is :
    and Inside
    And we use it, in every latin country not only mexico

  7. I spent two weeks in Costa Rica and we used this phrase all the time!

  8. Rod anfinson taught this to me a few years ago. Oh the memories we had were worth remembering. RIP. The beginning of every adventure, during the adventure, and at the end if we're still standing.
    Phx, AZ~San Diego, Calii~ Cabo, Mexico

  9. In custom it means "to my friends"... You are never above me, never below me, never away from me and always with me.

  10. Never above you never below you always side by side

  11. Salud is more than health. The entire toast is ¡Salud, pesetas, amor y tiempo para gozarlos! Health, money, love and time to enjoy them! Pesetas was the currency in Spain before the Euro

    1. I learned it "Salud, amor, pesetas, y tiempo para disfrutarlas." Is this equally correct or is the above preferred?

  12. Couple of days ago I saw the cop movie `End of watch` (2012) that has a nice example in it, which is what actually brought me here. I was interested in what seemed to be a traditional drinking phrase a Mexican familly did in the movie. Thanks and to good life!

  13. Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James used the phrase in several episodes of McMillan and Wife in the early Seventies.

  14. They just used this toast at the end of NCIS LA. Now I am going to rewind and see if they touched glasses correctly.

  15. Thanks for this wonderful toast, which I just learned yesterday from a good friend at lunch. I would HATE for anyone to think I learned it from an NCIS show! Much appreciate the older TV references, not to mention my original source!

  16. NCIA LA brought me here! Muy Bien, gracias !

  17. this is a cool thing up and down in the middle hard

  18. Looking for a toast I saw at the Herradura Tequila ranch. ....el mano, ...el codo,
    ...el cull, ...X#$ everything. Missing the verb forms for raise, bend, squeeze and ??? Any help?