What Half-And-Half Means In Different Countries

Even if you're not sure what's actually in half-and-half (FYI: It's half cream, half milk), you probably at least know that it's some kind of dairy that gets stirred into coffee. It's available at every grocery store, every cafe, and even by the coffee pots at grimy gas stations.

Given this, you might not think twice about ordering half-and-half with your coffee while traveling abroad — what could go wrong? Be careful though, because other drinks and even some foods in other countries have the half-and-half nickname. Depending on where you are, you might be in for a surprise.

According to Vinepair, ordering a half-and-half in Ireland won't be any help for your coffee. Instead, you'll get a tall pint glass of layered light and dark beers, usually dark Guinness stout layered with an ale or lager. (Rugged Fellows Guide likes a half-and-half made with the Irish Harp lager.) If this two-toned draught sounds familiar, specifically like a Black and Tan, you're right. However, Vinepair shares that half-and-half is the preferred name for this drink in Ireland. Black and Tan has a painful association there with military units sent into Ireland by the British. So stick with half-and-half at the bar, and ask for cream with your coffee. 

Scotland also has a half-and-half (or hauf-and-a-hauf) you can get at the bar. Pellicle says that this Scottish drink is a half-pint of lager with a shot of whisky thrown in.

There are even more half-and-half drinks

Ireland and Scotland aren't alone in their half-and-half-named alcoholic drinks. Lonely Planet says that the signature drink at Le Cirio — a pub in Brussels, Belgium — is the Half-and-Half. It's neither cream nor beer, but equal parts wine and sparkling wine. (One TripAdvisor review specifies that it's white wine and champagne.)

A trip to the Dalmatia region of Croatia reveals yet another half-and-half, or pola-pola in native Croatian. According to Chartersplit, a regional drink named bevanda, made of wine mixed with water, can be ordered "pola-pola" to get the wine and water in equal amounts.

Jump on a plane to Uraguay, and TasteAtlas shares that you can find yet another half-and-half drink. Known locally as medio y medio, it's a blend of sweet, sparkling wine and a dry white wine, and is also available bottled.

There's even another half-and-half right here in the States: You might know it as an Arnold Palmer. Good Housekeeping explains that this favorite drink of the late, great golfer Arnold Palmer blends iced tea with lemonade. It's technically heavier on the tea, but the nickname of "half-and-half" stuck anyway.

A few foods go by half-and-half, too

There are even some foods that share a name with this American coffee addition. Hello Switzerland reports that there's a traditional Swiss fondue recipe known as moitié-moitié. This literally translates to "half-and-half," and refers to a melted blend of Gruyère and silky Vacherin fribourgeois cheeses. Well, at least this confusing half-and-half sticks with dairy!

In Wales, BuzzFeed says that ordering half-and half will get you a dish of spicy curry with sides of steaming chips (aka french fries) and cooked rice. And in Holland, "half om half" refers to a mixture of beef and pork used in their favorite meatballs, known as gehaktballen (via Instructables).

Ordering half-and-half with your coffee, only to find a glob of cheese or a meatball in your cup of joe? It seems more like a scene from a "National Lampoon's Vacation" movie than something that would actually happen to a traveler abroad. Nevertheless, you've been warned, so order carefully!