What Is A Shoey?: The Cult Australian Drinking Tradition Explained

If the boot fits...alcohol

Image: Sky Sports

Thought you could only drink beer from a glass? Think again. In Australia, the shoey is fast becoming the new drinking craze. If you’ve seen someone performing a shoey before, it would likely have been at a live music event or even a sporting event – hello Daniel Ricciardo – or you may, if you live in Australia at least, have done one with your friends on a lads night out.

But what is a shoey, where did it originate and just exactly how do you perform one?

Here’s everything you need to know about the shoey.

What is a shoey?

As a quick disclaimer, if you’re very easily grossed out, then you may want to stop reading here. While some may find the shoey a source of unrivalled entertainment, others can (perhaps quite rightly) find it completely disgusting.

To do a shoey means to pour your drink, which in most cases will be beer – or in the case of Daniel Ricciardo, champagne, into your own shoe or someone else’s, and then quickly chug it down in one.

The shoey didn’t originate in Australia, but it has fast become a permanent fixture in popular culture.

Where did the shoey originate?

According to John R. Schmidt’s book On This Day in Chicago History, published in January 2014, the act of drinking champagne from a lady’s slipper was prevalent in the 20th century. It’s claimed the act of drinking from a shoe first happened in 1902 at the Everleigh Club, a brothel in Chicago.

A slipper of one of the dancers was said to have fallen onto the floor, only for it to be picked up by a member of the entourage of Prince Henry of Prussia. The entourage member is then said to have used it to drink champagne.

Other historical ties to the shoey suggest German soldiers would get new recruits to drink beer from a boot as part of an initiation process, and soldiers were also claimed to have drunk beer from their General’s boot following a victory in battle. This practice is said to be the influence behind the Bierstiefel boot-shaped glass being created.

Who has performed a shoey in Australia?

Formula One

While performing a shoey isn’t strictly limited to Australia, it is perhaps the most well-known country to encourage the act. Daniel Ricciardo is perhaps the most high-profile sporting figure to perform a shoey and is the man responsible for introducing it to Formula One.

Ricciardo has performed a shoey at the 2016 German Grand Prix following a podium finish, then again at the Belgian Grand Prix. He’s also performed one at the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, where he shared it with Max Verstappen, Nico Rosberg and Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner.

Daniel Ricciardo has now made it pretty much a guaranteed tradition that he will perform a shoey whenever he gets a podium finish. He continued to perform them at the 2015 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, along with Canadian racing driver Lance Stroll and at the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Italy, where both he and Lewis Hamilton drank champagne from both of Ricciardo’s shoes.

Following a McLaren 1-2 finish at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo, teammate Lando Norris and McLaren CEO Zak Brown all performed a shoey on the podium.

Daniel Ricciardo has also managed to enlist other high-profile celebrities to drink from a shoe, including Gerard Butler, who drank Red Bull from a shoe, as well as Patrick Stewart.

Other Motorsport

It’s not just Formula One where the shoey has proven popular. In 2015, David Reynolds, a Supercars racing driver, drank champagne from his shoe on the podium following his first non-endurance event victory.

Australian MotoGP rider Jack Miller drank champagne from his boot following his first win. Fellow MotoGP racing legend Valentino Rossi also performed a shoey at the San Marino race in 2016, becoming the first non-Australian to do so.

Scott McLaughlin, an IndyCar racing driver from New Zealand performed a shoey in February 2022 following his first win at St. Petersburg.

Other Sport

The shoey further became popular during the 2016 NRL season, particularly with the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks fans, who would regularly perform the shoey at games. When Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks went on to win the 2016 Premiership, several of the team’s players also performed shoeys.

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