Drinking game

Drinking game
Beer Pong is a common physical drinking game.

Drinking games are games which involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages. These games vary widely in scope and complexity, although the purpose of most is to become intoxicated as quickly as possible. Evidence of the existence of drinking games dates back to antiquity.

The rapid consumption of alcohol, key to many drinking games, worsens judgement and decreases inhibition, and may lead to alcohol poisoning. As a result, drinking games have been banned at some American universities.[1]



Symposium, with scene of Kottabos - fresco from the Tomb of the Diver in Paestum, 475 BC
Wager cup (Dublin, Ireland)[2]

Ancient Greece

According to Dr Rupert Thompson, the Orator of The University of Cambridge, the earliest reference to drinking games in Western literature is from Plato's Symposium The Drinking Party. The game was simple: fill a bowl with wine, drink it and pass it on to the next person. Kottabos is one of the earliest known drinking games from ancient Greece, dated to the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Players would use dregs to hit targets across the room with their wine. Often, there were special prizes and penalties for one's performance in the game.[3]

Ancient China

Drinking games were enjoyed in ancient China, usually incorporating the use of dice or verbal exchange of riddles.[4] During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Chinese used a silver canister where written lots could be drawn that designated which player had to drink and specifically how much; for example, from 1, 5, 7, or 10 measures of drink that the youngest player, or the last player to join the game, or the most talkative player, or the host, or the player with the greatest alcohol tolerance, etc. had to drink[5] There were even drinking game referee officials, including a 'registrar of the rules' who knew all the rules to the game, a 'registrar of the horn' who tossed a silver flag down on calling out second offenses, and a 'governor' who decided one's third call of offense.[6] These referees were used mainly for maintaining order (as drinking games often became rowdy) and for reviewing faults that could be punished with a player drinking a penalty cup.[6] If a guest was considered a 'coward' for dropping out of the game, he could be branded as a 'deserter' and not invited back to further drinking bouts.[6] There was another game where little puppets and dolls dressed as western foreigners with blue eyes (Iranian peoples) were set up and when one fell over, the person it pointed to had to empty his cup of wine.[7]

Types of games

Bonging is popular among college students.


The simplest drinking games are endurance games in which players compete to out-drink each other. Players take turns taking shots, and the last person standing is the winner. Some games have rules involving the "cascade", "fountain" or "waterfall", which encourages each player to drink constantly from their cup so long as the player before him does not stop drinking. Such games can also favor speed over quantity, in which players race to drink a case of beer the fastest.

Tolerance games are simply about seeing which player can last the longest. It can be as simple as two people matching each other drink for drink until one of the participants "passes out". Power hour and its variant, centurion, fall under this category. Another is the "Datsyuk Game" where a Datsyuk highlight reel is played on YouTube and contestants drink every time the word Datsyuk is mentioned. The ceremonial playing of the Russian national anthem before the game is an important tradition.


Many pub or bar games involve competitive drinking for speed and not necessarily for the quantity consumed. The object of these games may not be inebriation, but may simply involve "bragging rights" or wangs of cash which benefit the fastest drinker. Examples of such drinking games are Edward Fortyhands, boat races, Tour De Franzia, beer bonging, shotgunning, flippy cup(a team-based speed game), and yard. The trick to speed drinking is opening the throat.

World records

Petrosino broke a Guinness World record in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

The Guinness Book of Records began to list world records for speed drinking in this category in the early 1960s. These early drinking records involved drinking beer from challenging vessels such as the yard glass, which, if not correctly mastered, resulted in the user receiving a blast of beer in his or her face. The 1969 edition of the Guinness Book lists The Broom (age 20) as having consumed a 2.5 pint yard of ale in 6.5 seconds on December 17, 1964. The 1974 edition lists Jack Boyle, age 52, of Barrow-in-Furness as having consumed a 3 pint yard of ale in 10.15 seconds on May 14, 1971. In the mid 1970s, Guinness began to list speed records achieved using any drinking vessel. The 1977 edition dropped the earlier records established by Hill and Boyle, and listed a 2.5 pint yard record by the RAF at Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire in 5.0 seconds and a three pint yard record established at Corby Town F.C. on January 23, 1976 in 5.5 seconds". The 1977 edition listed the new world record established at the Gingerbreadman Pub by Steven Petrosino, (age 25) of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania on June 22, 1977. Petrosino drank 1 litre of beer in 1.3 seconds.[8] Petrosino approached the challenge scientifically, and used two specially designed half-litre drinking vessels to establish this world beer record.[9] The 1977 edition also lists Peter G. Dowdeswell of Earls Barton for drinking two pints of beer from a single vessel in 2.3 seconds on June 11, 1975 and two litres in 6.0 seconds on 7 February 1975. These records were all dropped from the Guinness book in 1991 due to concerns about litigation.

Competitive skill games

Some party and pub games focus on the doing of a particular act of skill, rather than on either the amount a participant drinks or the speed with which they do so. Notable examples include beer pong, quarters, and chandeliers. To some extent, the focus of the players on doing the act of skill, rather than simply drinking, means that these games could be played for a longer time without participants getting significantly intoxicated.

These games, however, do not allow the participants to choose how much they drink, as this is dependent on the act of skill. This means that the drinking will necessarily be distributed unevenly between players, depending on the how skilled the players are at the act that is the basis of the game.


Thinking games rely on the players' powers of observation, recollection, logic and articulation. Such games are not difficult at the onset, but become much more challenging as the game continues as players become inebriated and their coordination and memory deteriorate.

Numerous types of thinking games exist, including 21, beer checkers, bizz buzz, buffalo, bullshit, tourettes, matchboxes, never have I ever, roman numerals, fuzzy duck, pennying, wine games, and zoom schwartz profigliano. Trivia games, such as Trivial Pursuit, are sometimes played as drinking games.


Several games involve a skill such as scoring a ping-pong or darts. Players must have good aim throughout the entire game, even as they become increasingly inebriated. Examples of these games include beer pong, caps, pong, beer darts and blackout.

Card and dice

Kings is played with cards.

Several popular drinking games involving cards are asshole, fuck the dealer, horserace, Kings, liar's poker, pyramid [10], bloody knuckles, Ring of Fire, ride the bus, and Black or Red.

Dice games include beer die, dudo, kinito, liar's dice, Mexico, mia, pounce!, ship, captain, and crew, tablero da Gucci, and three man.


Film drinking games are played while watching a movie (sometimes a TV show or a sporting event) and have a set of rules for who drinks when and how much based on on-screen events and dialogue. The rules may be the same for all players, or alternatively players may each be assigned rules related to particular characters. The rules are designed so that rarer events require larger drinks. Rule sets for such games are usually arbitrary and local, although they are sometimes published by fan clubs.

Matching the characters in the film Withnail and I has become an accepted drinking game, although the levels of consumption required for a single player are hazardous.[11][12]


Rock and pop music tracks can also be used as a basis for drinking games. "Roxanne" by The Police is one example.[13] One more example is the song "Thunderstruck" by ACDC in which players take a drink every time the word thunder is sung. Also the song "Real Nigga Roll Call" by Lil Jon & Ice Cube, is another song that may be used for this method.

Sporting events

Sport related drinking games involve the participants each selecting a scenario of the game resulting their drink being downed. Examples of this include participants each picking a footballer in a game. Should this player score or sent off a drink must be taking, or extreme versions include a drink for every touch a player takes of the ball. Multiple players may also be selected.

Athletic races involving alcohol including the beer mile, which consists of a mile run with a can of beer consumed before each of the four laps. A variant of this game is known in German speaking countries as Bierkastenlauf (beer crate running): A team of two is carrying a crate of beer along a route of several kilometers and has to consume all bottles prior to crossing the finish line.

See also



  1. ^ Jillian Swords. The Appalachian: "New alcohol policy bans drinking games". September 18, 2007.
  2. ^ "Wager cup". Metalwork. Victoria and Albert Museum. http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/art-of-drinking/. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  3. ^ Kottabos
  4. ^ Benn, 145.
  5. ^ Benn, 145-146.
  6. ^ a b c Benn, 146.
  7. ^ Schafer, 23.
  8. ^ Video: 1/4 litre in 0.18 seconds
  9. ^ Guinness World Beer Drinking Record set in 1977: What were the techniques used to set the record?
  10. ^ Video: how to play pyramid
  11. ^ "The Withnail and I Drinking Game". withnail-links.com. http://www.withnail-links.com/drinking.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  12. ^ The Withnail and I Drinking Game, DVD featurette. Anchor Bay 2006.
  13. ^ "Drinking Game: Roxanne". BarMeister.com. http://www.barmeister.com/games/rules/350/. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 


  • Benn, Charles (2002). China's Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang Dynasty. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517665-0.
  • Schafer, Edward H. (1963). The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A study of T’ang Exotics. University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles. 1st paperback edition: 1985. ISBN 0-520-05462-8.

External links

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