21 Fun Drinking Games You Can Play in Any Bar

Music + Nightlife
by Nickolaus Hines Sep 13, 2022

Going to the bar is a communal experience. There are friends new and old and plenty of drinks to keep the conversation flowing. Occasionally, though, you hit a point where you just have nothing to say. That’s where drinking games come in.

These are the best drinking games you can play without being a nuisance, and are equally suitable for your next bachelor or bachelorette party. Many take no extra materials other than your mind and a drink in hand, while others require easy to find objects.

Drinking games you don’t need cards to play

Sometimes you want to play drinking games and you have nothing on hand. There’s always the games on your phone, of course, but a face-to-face, person-to-person is a much better option when you’re at the bar.

1. Most likely

Number of people: Four or more, and just like for most drinking games without cards… the more the better

Rules: One person asks the group who they think is most likely to do something. For example, “Who would be most likely to buy a plane ticket to a random locale?” or “Who would be most likely to be caught sneaking an illegal drink from a mini on a plane?” Then, on the count of three, each person in the group points to the person they think would be most likely to do said question. Anyone who is pointed at takes a drink for however many fingers are directed at them (four sips for four fingers, for example).

2. I’m going on a picnic

Number of people: Three or more, and the more the better

Rules: Pick someone to start. That person begins the game with the statement, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing a blanket” (blanket can be whatever the person thinks is picnic worthy). The next person says, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing” with their own addition plus whatever was said before them. Each person following repeats the statement until someone messes up, and that person takes a drink. Additionally, if the group agrees that whatever the person says they are bringing isn’t picnic appropriate, the person drinks. This game can be played with anything switched out for picnic as well, such as going to the bar, going to a dance party, and so on.

3. Medusa

Number of people: Four or more, and the more the better

Rules: Sit at a table where everyone can see all of the other players. Each player puts their head down. On the count of three, everyone raises their head and stares directly at someone else. If you lock eyes with someone, yell Medusa and the person who says it last takes a drink. You’re in the clear if you don’t lock eyes.

4. Cheers to the governor

People clinking glasses playing drinking games

Photo: TORWAISTUDIO/Shutterstock

Number of people: Four or more, and the more the better

Rules: Sit in a circle. In order, the players count from one to 21 and must follow a set of rules. The first rule is that the numbers “seven” and “11” are switched, so the count goes, “six, 11, eight” and so on. When the group hits 21, everyone says, “Cheers to the governor.” The person who 21 landed on gets to make a new rule that people must follow, like requiring people to make an animal noise when they say the number 15, for example. Then it starts over from one and the rules carry over until every number has a rule.

5. Never have I ever

Number of people: Four or more, and the more the better

Rules: Each person holds their hand out with five fingers up. Pick a person to start, and that person begins a statement with “Never have I ever” and finishes it with something they haven’t done before. Anyone who has done that thing puts a finger down and takes a drink. Words of caution: This game can get rowdy and dirty, and the more times you play with a group the more rowdy and dirty it gets. Just accept the fact that a stranger will leave with some very personal information about you and appreciate the icebreaker.

6. Thumper

Number of people: Four or more, and the more the better

Rules: Embrace your inner animal in a very public setting. Each person picks the animal they’d like to be, then makes that animal’s noise and mimics its movements. The next person does their animal business, followed by the person before them. The next person does theirs and the movements of the two people behind them and so on. Any pauses cause a drink and forgetting altogether is either a drink or a shot depending on how well you handle being that loud group of people at the bar making animal movements.

7. Fingers

Number of people: Four to eight

Rules: Put a glass in the middle of the group. To start a round, each person puts a single finger on the rim of the glass. A designated person counts from three to zero. After, they guess how many people will leave their finger on the rim. It all happens in a split second. For example, with five people, the person would start the countdown and say “three, two, one, three.” Between one and three, the other players either leave a finger on or take it off. If the guesser got it right, they are out of the game. If wrong, they drink and stay in. Play continues until there’s only one person left. That person finishes the drink that everyone had their fingers on.

8. Drink while you think (also called the name game)

Number of people: Three or more, and the more the better

Rules: The group picks a category like celebrities, movie titles, or band names. The first person says a name in that category, like Seth Rogan. The next person has to say a celebrity name where the first name starts with the first letter of the previous person’s option (Rachel McAdams, for example). The catch is that you have to drink continuously until you think of a name that works. If someone says a name where the first and last name start with the same letter, the direction of play reverses.

9. Paranoia

Number of people: Four or more, and the more the better

Rules: Pick someone to be the starter. That person whispers a question about the group into the ear of the person on their left (For example, “Who would you never live with?”). The person who was asked the question replies out loud with their answer. If the person whose name was spoken (or anyone curious) wants to know what the question was, they take a drink. The person who said the name can either choose to respond or take a drink instead.

10. Two truths and a lie

Number of people: Three or more, and the more the better

Rules: Pick a person to start. That person makes three statements about themselves. Two of the statements are true and one is false. The person to the left has to guess which is the lie. If they’re right, the person who made the lie drinks, and vice versa if they’re wrong.

11. Suffocation

Number of people: Two or more, and the more the better

Rules: Masochism is the name of the game here, if you couldn’t tell by the name, because if you choose to play you’re bound to at one point get uncomfortable. To play, one person starts asking questions to someone else in the group. The questions start out innocuous, like “How old are you?” Then they get increasingly personal, and when it reaches a point when they don’t want to answer, they take a drink.

12. I drink and I know things

Number of people: Three or more, and the more the better

Rules: This game is like trivia, but for drinkers. When it comes to a person’s turn, they say “I drink and I know” followed by a statement like know the capital of Arkansas. If anyone in the group knows the answer as well, they blurt it out and everyone else has to drink including the person who started the question. The person who got it right makes the next statement. If no one gets the answer, the group drinks and the asker gets to make another statement about something they know.

13. Westerosi never have I ever

Number of people: Two or more, and the more the better.

Rules: Game of Thrones fans may be familiar with this game and the rules Tyrion Lannister put in place. Each person makes a statement on their turn about another person in the group (“You’ve never seen Game of Thrones,” for example). If it’s true, that person has to drink and you get to make another statement about someone. If it’s false, you drink and it’s the next person’s turn.

Drinking games for two

These drinking games for two are ideal for an awkward first date, or for when you are at a bar with a buddy and just want to liven things up a little. You can add more people to both, just in case others want to join in the fun.

14. If you know what I mean

Number of people: Two or more

Rules: Pick a scenario that two people would be in, like eating at a restaurant or sitting next to each other on the plane. The two people go back and forth with statements that are filled with innuendos yet fit the situation, ending each sentence with “if you know what I mean.” The first person to run out of innuendos drinks.

15. Quarters

Number of people: Two or more.

Rules: Bartenders and bar owners are not usually huge fans of people playing quarters with their glassware, but find a dive and you should be good to go. The goal is to bounce a quarter off the table and into the glass (thick shot glasses work best). Shoot head to head against one other player, and the first person to make it in wins that round and the loser drinks. The next person in line takes over and so on.

Drinking card games

People at a bar with beer glasses playing drinking card games

Photo: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

Maybe you’re the type of person who carries a pack of cards on you wherever you go or maybe you’re in a bar gracious enough to lend some out. Either way, your game options just got a lot bigger. These are drinking games that don’t take up too much space and can be (mostly) played without other people at the bar judging.

16. Kings

Number of people: Three or more, and the more the better

Rules: In a clockwise circle, each person takes the top card off the deck. When someone grabs the first king, they pick a liquor and the next person continues to draw the next card. The second person to get a king picks a mixer like soda or, depending on how sadistic that person is, something like pickle juice. The game continues until the third person who picks a king, and that person has to go up to the bar and get the mixed drink with the first two ingredients. The person who draws the fourth king has to drink it.

17. Fuck the dealer

Number of people: Two or more, and the more the better

Rules: One person starts off as the dealer. The person to the right guesses which card is on the top of the deck. The dealer looks at the card and says whether it’s higher or lower than the person’s guess. The dealer takes two sips if the person guesses right on the first try, and one sip if the second guess is right. If the person can’t guess it, they have to drink the difference between their second guess and the actual card (two sips for example, if the person guessed seven and the card is nine). After every turn, the cards are laid out for everyone to see. The dealer passes on dealer duties after they beat three people in a row.

Bar games played with coins

Quarter for drinking games

Photo: CleanPhoto/Shutterstock

While paying in cash isn’t as prevalent as it was in the past, there’s still a good chance someone has a quarter floating around somewhere. Don’t spend it, play with it.

18. Quarter baseball

Number of people: Six

Rules: Form two teams of three people, and have a row of four shot glasses stretching out vertically. The glass closest to the opposing team is a single, second a double, etc. The player at bat from the first team bounces the quarter and has three strikes to make it in one of the four glasses. When they score, they take a sip for every glass farther out (someone who makes the first, for example, has to take three sips). When a team makes a run, the other team drinks. Each team gets three outs, and the game continues for a set amount of innings depending on how long you want to play.

19. Beer hockey

Number of people: Four or more

Rules: Take turns spinning the quarter. The spinner yells out the name of one of the players, who then becomes the shooter. The rest of the players then form a goal with their pinky and index finger in front of their drink. While the quarter is still spinning, the shooter flicks the quarter to try and score a goal and hit a drink. If a goal is made, everyone picks up their drink and the shooter spins the quarter. The person who was scored on chugs until the quarter stops spinning (either on its own or the shooter can stop it when they want).

Pen and paper

Napkin and pen drinking games without cards

Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Even bars that lack most things needed for games will have some napkins and a pen you can borrow for drinking games without cards. Here’s how to make sure that pen gets put to more use than signing your check.

20. Drunken artists

Number of people: Three or more, and the more the better

Rules: One player keeps the time on their phone or from a clock, while another is the artist who is or is about to become a drunken artist. The time keeper whispers a word to the artist and starts the timer while the artist draws what the word is and the rest of the players try and guess. The timer stops when someone finally gets it. The artist takes one drink for every 20 seconds it took the crowd to figure it out. Think of it like Pictionary, but for bar drinking.

21. Straight face

Number of people: Four or more, and the more the better

Rules: Everyone writes a sentence on a small slip of paper that they think will make someone laugh, feel uncomfortable, or refuse to read. The slips are thrown into a pile and chosen at random. Go around in a circle reading the slip out loud (make sure it’s the first read), and if the reader laughs or smiles they drink. If they keep a straight face, the writer has to fess up and take a drink.

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