The paper studies young people's reported drinking behaviors and their views on various social aspects of alcohol, utilizing a sample of over 4000 rural adolescents aged 11.8-16.5 years in Norway, Scotland and Sweden. The methodology employed includes a common questionnaire and a range of varying qualitative approaches (essays and focus group interviews). The various venues and drinking contexts used by young people, their motives for drinking, and their 'learning' experiences with alcohol are described. Beyond nationality, the most powerful predictors of 'high' drinking are 'involvement with friends' and 'participation in commercial leisure'. The predictors for 'low' drinking are 'involvement in activities with parents' and 'parental concerns about drinking'. Results show that Scottish teenagers drink most, Norwegians least and no differences in the predictor variables are found that can explain this. Results are discussed in relation to social and cultural differences, and illustrated by quotations from rural young people in Scotland and Sweden.