What Do Mexicans Say Before a Shot of Tequila? Explored

Last Updated on September 28, 2023 by Lydia Martin

With drinking friends worldwide, saying “Cheers!” is not enough. Each country has a unique expression and tradition for toasting.

Just as we heard the Japanese exclaim “Kanpai” before clinking glasses or the French “Cul Sec” for bottoms up, I’m constantly fascinated by different expressions of making a toast.

So, what do Mexicans say before a shot of tequila? Join me as I explore the Mexican customs of making a toast.

What Mexicans Say Before A “Chupito” de Tequila

Glass of Tequila Shot and a Slice of Lemon

Mexicans often say, “Arriba, abajo, al centro y pa’ dentro!” before drinking a tequila shot (chupito). Tequila is an alcoholic drink named after the town of Tequila from Jalisco, Mexico [1]

Many countries also have different drinking cultures. For example, Italians usually say Cin-cin (pronounced as chin-chin) for “cheers,” but in Spain, chin may be incorporated as a vulgar word.

“Today, tequila is served in chic restaurants and lauded by celebrities and politicians, and the Tequila Trail in Jalisco is a highly publicized tourism destination.” – Chantal Martineau, Wine, Spirits, and Food Writer

In Catalonia, the cheers start with a person saying, “Sant Hilari, Sant Hilari!” and everybody will answer, “Fill de puta qui no se l’acabi.” The phrase means, “The son of a whore who doesn’t finish their glass/drink.”

For context, it sounds better in its original form because of the rhyming. But do you know why you must put salt on your hand before drinking tequila?

What Mexicans Say During A Tequila Toast

Bottle and a Glasses of Tequila


The first part when making a Mexican toast is “Arriba.” Its English translation is upward or higher and may also refer to the exclamation of pleasure or elation. 

So, the Mexican toast usually starts by exclaiming this word as people passionately raise their drinks. But what do you call a tequila shot in a beer?


After raising your glass, it’s time for “abajo,” or the gesture of putting your glass down.

The word means “down” or “lower place.” But sometimes, to make a simple toast, my friends touch the bottom of our glasses or beer bottles for this part. 

Al Centro 

These words translate to “to the center” in English. It is the part where you and your friends will bring your drinks forward. I notice some people do not touch their glasses at this point, but I have my friends rub the top and bottom slightly. But what’s the strongest tequila?

Y Pa’ Dentro

The final Spanish phrase, “Y Pa’ Dentro,” marks the moment of drinking the rest of the tequila. The words translate to “inside,” signifying the drink entering our bodies, warming our spirits, and creating a shared bond.

“Tequila, an alcoholic drink made from the agave plant, holds a special place in Mexican hearts. It’s not just a drink; it’s a symbol of their heritage and identity.” – Liquor Laboratory

Afterward, you can put your glass back on the table with a satisfying thud.


How do you say a shot of tequila in Mexico?

In Mexico and other countries that speak Spanish, a tequila shot may be referred to as “chupito” or simply a “shot.”

The primary language in Mexico is Spanish, with over 125 million people speaking the language in this country [2]. But even before the Spanish conquest, Mexican people have been toasting with alcohol for celebrations.

What is the rule for tequila in Mexico? 

The rule for tequila in Mexico is to be made from at least 51% blue agave, distilled, and bottled in specific regions, such as Jalisco. 

The two categories of tequila are 100% De Agave Tequila, which can only use agave, and “tequila,” which can be made with non-agave sugars.

Is tequila a shot or a sip?

Depending on personal preference, drinking tequila can be enjoyed as a shot, sipped slowly, or used in cocktails. Salud is commonly used as “cheers” in the Spanish-speaking world.

How do you order a shot of tequila in Mexico?

You can order a tequila shot or “derecho” in a Mexican bar by simply telling the waiter your preferred type of tequila.

You may ask for “un chupito de tequila,” but of course, you need to specify if you want your drink neat or on the rocks. 

In Summary

Tequila is not just an alcoholic beverage. It is also a Mexican cultural icon representing tradition and celebrations. 

In Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico and Spain, “Salud!” is the most common way to say “Cheers!” It means health, similar to the Portuguese word “Saúde,” meaning to wish everyone overall good health while drinking. 

Salud has a more extended version, “Salud, amor y dinero. Y tiempo para gastarlo,” meaning “Health, love, and money. And time to spend (enjoy) it.”

So, next time you raise a drink or a chupito de tequila, remember the words, “Arriba, abajo, al centro y pa’ dentro!” or “Salud” and the traditions they embody.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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