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Drinking games and alcohol have something
in common: no one knows when they were both

first discovered. 

Archaeologists and historians have located frescos, pub paintings, scrolls, and more proving that games were very much part of our drinking culture. Ancient Chinese drinking games are called Jiuling. They can be played with dice, riddles, body parts, and more. There is a 400-page book on Jiuling called Zhōngguó jiǔlìng dàguān by Ma Guojun.


Ancient Greeks (500 BCE) played a messy drinking game called Kottabos where they would sling wine from a kylix at a target. A kylix is what they drank from and many have been discovered.


In 1982, a Tang Dynasty (618 BCE–907 BCE) vessel used for drinking games was unearthed in Dantu County, Jiangsu Province. It has a tortoise-shaped pedestal with a barrel containing fifty gilded silver counters. Each counter is inscribed with a quotation from The Analects of Confucius with instruction to drink, persuade another to drink, punish, or let go.


In England, King Edgar the Peaceful (959 BCE–975 BCE) tried to limit alehouse drinking by introducing pegs inserted inside drinking horns. The drinker was only allowed to drink down to the peg. However, the experiment failed and resulted in a drinking game and drinking contests.


From the 1300s to the 1700s, the French played with a puzzle jug that had drinking game rules inscribed on them such as: “Gentlemen, now try your skill, I’ll hold you Sixpence if you will, that you don’t drink unless you spill.” Puzzle jugs contained many holes, and the challenge was to figure out which hole would pour out into the drinker’s mouth. If you chose the wrong hole, then you got soaked.



Greeks playing Kottabos/ Photo by Xocolati / Creative Commons License


French Puzzle Jug/Public Domain/ WikiCommons

Seven Modern Drinking Games

Today, animal horns, silver goblets, and oxen knucklebones have been replaced by red plastic Solo cups and plastic dice, but the boozy social game is the same.

Beer Pong

What you need:​

  • A Ping-Pong table, beer-pong table, or large rectangle-shaped dining table

  • Ping-Pong balls (six would be good in case you lose some)

  • Twenty plastic sixteen-ounce cups (or if you want to get fancy you can use sixteen-ounce glasses)


Arrange ten cups on both ends of the table in a triangle formation like the way bowling pins and billiard balls are arranged. Pour around four ounces of beer into each cup (or however much you want).


Decide on teams. Each team takes turns throwing a Ping-Pong ball into a cup on the opposing side. If the ball lands in a cup, then someone from the other team has to drink the beer in that cup. The empty cup is removed from the table. The team that clears all the cups from the opposing team wins.


Keep a cup of water on standby to rinse off the ball if needed. You will need eighty ounces of beer just to start the game with four ounces in each cup. A six-pack has seventy-two ounces. So plan accordingly.


What you need:​

  • A clean table (a round wooden table works the best but it’s not necessary)

  • Beer of your choice

  • A clean glass

  • A clean quarter


Set the glass of beer and quarter on the table.


Take turns trying to bounce the quarter into the glass. If the quarter goes into the glass, then you choose who drinks the beer.


For germaphobes, have everyone wash his or her hands before the game starts.

Flip Cup


Line up the same number of cups on each side of a table. You choose how many cups you want to line up. Fill each cup with about four ounces of beer.

The Rules:

To win, one side of the table must drink and flip over all of their cups before the other side does. Two or more people can play. You can play one-on-one or each side can have team members. On the count of three, the first players drink the entire contents of a cup then set the cup on the edge of the table (bottom of the cup on the table hanging half over the edge). They then attempt to flip the cup over to land on the rim. You are only allowed to touch the bottom of the cup when trying to flip it over. It may take several attempts. Once the cup has been flipped over successfully, then you move to the next cup and repeat.

Drunk Jenga

What you need:​

  • A box of Jenga blocks

  • A permanent marker

  • Drinks of your choice


Write different rules, instructions, or challenges on the Jenga blocks. Keep in mind that there are fifty-four blocks in a Jenga box, so you will need to figure out what you want to write. Some blocks can be left blank, some can say the same thing on ten blocks, it’s all up to you. The game can be G- to X-rated. It all depends on your party.

Ideas include: Take two drinks, everyone must drink, remove one article of clothing then drink, or if you have a bunch of different alcohol in the house then write those on the block for them to drink. A quick search on Pinterest or Google Images will give you tons of ideas.


Use regular Jenga rules.

Shot Roulette

What you need:​

  • A bunch of shot glasses

  • Different types of alcohol (beer, wine, vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum, liqueurs, etc.)

  • An empty bottle


Place an empty bottle in the middle of a table, then make a large circle of shot glasses around the bottle. Fill the shot glasses with different alcohols of your choice.


Take turns spinning the bottle and whatever shot glass the bottle is pointing to when it stops, you have to drink it.


Mix in some gag shots like apple cider vinegar, or a few dashes of hot sauce in tequila, etc.

Water Roulette

What you need:​

  • Several shot glasses

  • An empty bottle

  • Water

  • A plain or flavored clear spirit (or several plain or flavored clear spirits like vodka, gin, rum, Everclear, tequila, moonshine, sambuca, liqueurs, etc.)


Place an empty bottle in the middle of a table, then make a large circle of shot glasses around the bottle. Fill half the shot glasses with clear alcohols of your choice and the other half with water.


Take turns spinning the bottle and whatever shot glass the bottle is pointing to when it stops the player must drink it, then convincingly say, “Mmmmmmmm, water.” If you call the player out and say he or she is lying, and you’re right, that player has to spin and drink again, but if you’re wrong, then that player does not have to spin and drink again.


What you need:

  • One die

  • Six different-sized glasses ranging in size from very small to very large



Fill up each glass with a different alcoholic drink. Then line them up on a table, giving each glass a number from one to six.



Take turns rolling the die. Whatever number you roll, then that is your drink. If the number you roll is taken, then keep rolling until you get an available drink number.



On the very large drinks, you may want to use a lot of mixers or it will be a very short game.

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