15 Of The World's Weirdest Drinking Games
Drinking is weird. Chug two bottles of wine, and you have a "problem." But pour it all into glasses and suddenly it's a "tasting," and everyone wants to hear your opinion on art and politics and set you up with their sister Elizabeth who just got out of rehab for having a few too many "tastings" a day.
The epitome of taking the simple human desire to occasionally get absolutely stranger-hugging, police horse-punching kershnickered, and disguising it as something more socially acceptable is probably the drinking game. Because with drinking games, it's not that you want to drink that 7th cup of beer. The ping-pong ball told you to. That's not to suggest that American beer pong is the only drinking game in town. Culture all around the world have their own versions of complicating the killing of your brain cells, and you absolutely should know about some of them, including …
Kottabos (Ancient Greece)
Considered one of the earliest drinking competitions, Kottabos is basically the Ancient Greek version of an episode of The Real Housewives in game form since it involves you and a bunch of friends getting together, talking about how hot some guys are, and then throwing wine around.
The object of Kottabos is to use the leftover wine in your cup to hit a target like a metal disk at the end of the room. Extra points can also be awarded if you keep proper form while hitting the target because the Ancient Greeks apparently took as much pride in being good at flinging booze as they did in excelling at Olympic sports. Truly, Ancient Greece really is the cradle of Western civilization.
Passatella (Ancient Rome, Italy)
Invented thousands of years ago in Ancient Rome but experiencing brief resurgences over the centuries, Passatella was the most sobering way to discover that none of your "friends" liked you. Literally. First, a bunch of people chipped in to buy enough booze for the group, after which a Boss and an Underboss were chosen via cards, dice, or a rock-paper-scissors-like game called Morra.
The Underboss got a drink while the Boss decided how much each remaining member of the party got, usually while insulting those left with empty cups. It was meant to be in good fun, but if by the third or fourth round you were still drier than a Mormon dying in the desert, tempers tended to flare. In the end, it wasn't uncommon for Passatella to end like a Rian Johnson retrospective: with knives out.
On a list of things that you probably shouldn't mix with alcohol, "swinging blunt objects around" ranks just below "sleep medication" and only a few entries above "a recent break-up with their number still saved in your phone." But there are reasons why Germany has this whole image of the fun, rule-breaking maverick, and one of those reasons is Hammerschlagen.
You start the game off by having players hammer a nail into a tree stump until it stands on its own. Then each person raises the hammer above their head and tries to smash the nail all the way in … using the edge end. Every time you fail, you must drink.
Good thing that alcohol increases your dexterity and coordination (it's why police give you awards for driving after having a few); otherwise, some might consider this game irresponsible and dangerous.
Kastenlauf is a race between teams of two carrying a crate of beer that must be empty before they cross the finish line 3-8 miles away. There are various strategies to winning at Kastenlauf. You can drink as you go. You can race sober to the finish line, plop down right outside it, and have yourself a German picnic. Or you can chug the contents of the crate at the start and leave everyone in your dust, assuming that alcohol has the same effect on your speed as it does on your ability to fight.
No matter which way you choose, though, in the end, you get a little exercise, you get to drink a lot, and, given the relatively low price of beer in Germany, a bunch of crates get delivered down the road for cheap. There's that famous German efficiency in play.
Konpira Fune Fune (Japan)
This game is traditionally enjoyed with a geisha, though you can play it without one, in the same sense that you can technically hang a Picasso in the toilet, you Philistine. Anyway, during a game of Konpira Fune Fune, you sit across from a geisha with an object between you that can be easily picked up. Keeping up with the rhythm of an accompanying song, you and the geisha alternate between placing a flat palm (like the Paper hand from Rock-Paper-Scissors) on the object until someone decides to pick it up.
When that happens, the other person must put down a closed fist (Rock) on the spot where the object used to be. If they put down a Paper hand on the empty spot or touch the returned object with a Rock hand, they must take a drink. If you throw Scissors, you'll be told to … cut it out (boo harder, see where that gets you.)
Pocky Game (Japan)
The Pocky Game is essentially the Japanese take on the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp. During it, two people put the opposite ends of a Pocky (the chocolate-coated biscuit stick snack) into their mouths and then slowly move in for a face battle until someone finally chickens out and has to take a drink.
If, however, you go ahead and engage in some sensual almost-CPR, you're both exempt from drinking. That's also when you'll know that you might have something with the other person because they must really like you if they're willing to trade in drinking for a bit of lip wrestling with you. Either that or they have a serious Pocky addiction. In any case: dream partner material.
Bear Paw (Russia)
There is a saying in Russia: "Liquor before beer, you're in the clear, beer before liquor, you're also in the clear, don't be a wuss. Finally, liquor in beer, you're playing Bear Paw. No one said that this would rhyme." Such a beautiful culture.
So, in Bear Paw, you pass around a glass or mug of beer, and every time someone takes a sip from it, you have to top it off with vodka or another spirit, possibly while discussing when exactly the drink stops being beer. It's like a practical lesson in the Ship of Theseus thought experiment that makes your liver cry.
G’Day Bruce (Australia)
We gotta be honest. Chances are this isn't a real drinking game that Australians play but rather a joke at the country's expense invented by someone whose entire knowledge of Australia comes from Crocodile Dundee.
But enough about why you should play it. Here are the rules: you and a bunch of friends sit in a circle, and Player 1 tells the person next to them, "G'day Bruce." They respond in kind, after which Player 1 tells Player 2, "Say G'day to Bruce, Bruce," while pointing at Player 3. This continues until someone messes up and has to take a drink.
The drinker then has to change their name to something equally taking the piss out of Australia like "Barbie Shrimp" or "Dollarydoo." This increases the chances of more people messing up, which in turn leads to more name changes, which leads to everyone drinking way too much. That last part admittedly is genuinely Australian.
Goon Of Fortune (Australia)
Okay, this game we are sure really is Australian because it requires so many authentic Australian elements to play; we're surprised that knife spiders or whatever other lethal Australian fauna isn't part of it.
To play Goon of Fortune, you will need a goonbag and a Hills Hoist. They may sound like sex toys and, let's be honest, were 100% used as such by at least one person in history, but they just mean cheap boxed wine (that's actually stored in a bag inside the box) and a type of Australian rotary clothesline.
You hang the goonbag at one end of a Hills Hoist, sit underneath it, spin it, and if the bag of wine stops above you, you gotta drink a predetermined amount from it. Which we're just assuming is "The entire thing" in most cases.
Originating in Peru, Sapo isn't necessarily a drinking game, but being intoxicated really helps to justify spending money on a Sapo board, which looks like a wooden cabinet with holes and a frog figure on top, not unlike an amphibian glory-hole multiplex.
The object of the game is to throw metal tokens into the frog's mouth, and if you make it, everyone must take a drink. If you miss and the token doesn't go into one of the holes, only you drink. Referring to the game as "Tokes' N Holes" while playing it is not required though highly encouraged.
Horse Race (UK)
Combining alcoholism with gambling and gaining power over the freedom of others, Horse Race is like three sins in one and, as all good things, it requires a little work.
You start by taking a deck of cards and finding all the aces in it. You lay them out in a row, shuffle the deck, and then put down six face-down cards in a line perpendicular to the aces, creating a sort of L shape for "Let's go! Every second I'm not drinking or gambling, I start to think about all the mistakes I've made in life!"
When the betting starts, you choose which ace ("horse") will win, putting down whatever number of drinks you want on it. Then, the … horse chief (?) starts flipping over cards from the top of the remaining deck, looking at their suit, and then moving the ace of the same suit forward the length of one card. The first ace to clear the six face-down card checkpoints wins, and the person who bet on it gets to "distribute" the number of drinks they wagered among all the other players.
For a more authentic horserace betting experience, threaten to break the legs of the losers unless they chug down their allotted beers ASAP.
Gelande Quaffing (US)
Despite sounding like a character from Harry Potter, Gelande Quaffing is actually one of the most popular games at ski resorts, alongside downhill tournaments to save the old rec center where all the ragtag, scrappy underdogs hang out. Legend goes that this drinking game was born when a bartender at a snowed-in ski club in Wyoming passed a beer to a patron, and it slid off the counter but was caught by the guest at the last second. That's also basically how you play Gelande Quaffing.
You hurl mugs of beer along a table, which the person on the opposite end has to catch in midair and chug. And then you all get to strap planks to your feet and play the super fun, highspeed version of "Don't Hit That Tree." A winning combination if there ever was one.
Napkin, Beer, Cigarette (South Korea)
In this South Korean drinking game, you start off by getting a napkin (good, no false advertising so far), which you place on top of a glass of beer, securing it with a rubber band if necessary (not too jazzed about the rubber band but since its optional, we're letting it slide.) Then you take … A COIN? This wasn't part of the deal! We demand to speak to the president of alcohol!
Anyway, you place the coin on the napkin, and you decide who goes first. You light up a cigarette, and everyone takes turns burning a hole in the napkin until finally someone sinks the coin and has to drink a mixture of booze, cigarette ash, and a metal disk dirtier than a toilet seat. We believe the proper bartending name for that is The Public Urinal.
Titanic (South Korea)
To replicate the terrifying death of over 1,500 people in drinking game form, you will need a glass of beer, a plastic shot glass, and soju. Place the shot glass inside the beer and have each player pour a little soju inside it until it inevitably goes down like the titular Titanic, and the person responsible has to drink the entire thing.
The goal is to pour juuuust enough of the Korean spirit into the container to keep it afloat but not so little that the rest of the table calls you a dingus for handling the soju bottle as if it was full of nitroglycerin. For an even more authentic Titanic experience, place a cherry and a pebble inside the shot glass to represent Jack and Rose, which is a rule that we just made up.
Image Game (South Korea)
Not unlike Korea's other famous game, this one also requires strategic thinking, quick wits, and will end up hurting a lot of people. Thankfully only emotionally and, hey, that's what the alcohol is there for. To play the Image Game, someone first throws out a description like "Person who had the most partners" or "Person whose mom can get it" or "Person most likely to get the fewest votes in this round" if you want to weed out any secret robot spies in your group with a well-placed paradox. After that, the group points at the same time at the person they think best fits the description, and the one who gets the most votes has to drink.
However, if you think you're going to be chosen, you can block this by throwing up an X with your arms instead of voting, and if you were right, everyone else gets to drink. Throwing up an X and not being chosen means you have to drink, though. And that's how you play Image Game, named so because, we assume, "The Burning Bridges Game" doesn't translate well to Korean.
Top image: Terrazzo/Wiki Commons