Weird History

Which Historical Figure Would Win In An All-Night Drinking Competition?  

Setareh Janda
351 votes 101 voters 2.4k views 14 items

List Rules Vote up the historical figures who would drink everyone else under the table.

History overflows with heavy drinkers. What would happen if some of them went up against each other in an all-night drinking competition? Who would be the victor? That's for you to decide.

To make an educated judgment, it's important to get to know the stats and drinking styles of history's most notorious alcohol enthusiasts. Some were binge drinkers; some drank a little bit a lot of the time. In any case, all were well practiced in the art of holding their liquor, and alcohol had an impact on their life, celebrity, image, and work. 

Like everything else in history, context is always important. Drinking cultures have changed dramatically over the last few dozen centuries, from the ancient Mediterranean - whose populations by and large drank alcohol like water - to the short-lived Prohibition of 1920s America. So some figures, such as Alexander the Great, came from cultures that measured a man's worth by his ability to drink, while others - i.e. Ulysses S. Grant and his bourgeois Victorian world - saw alcohol as a shameful dark demon to be wrestled with.

Choose your booze champion and vote up the historical figures you think would be the last man or woman standing at the end of a night of drinking.

André the Giant is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Which Historical Figure Would Win In An All-Night Drinking Competition?
Photo: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Years Active: André the Giant was known to drink heavily when he was at the peak of his celebrity as a wrestler in the 1970s and 1980s. 

How Much He Drank: André's legendary size was the result of gigantism - and one of the side effects was that he could drink a lot of alcohol without it significantly affecting him. Wrestling referee Tim White claimed that André drank wine "like most people drink ice water." He once downed "156 beers in one sitting." 

His Legacy: Princess Bride co-star Cary Elwes believes André the Giant used alcohol to deal with the physical pain he was in following years of wear and tear on the wrestling circuit.

Signature Drink: He liked to drink "The American," a 40-ounce pitcher filled with a bunch of different liquors. And he wouldn't down just one "American," but several in one sitting.

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Queen Elizabeth The Queen Moth... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Which Historical Figure Would Win In An All-Night Drinking Competition?
Photo:  Allan Warren/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Years Active: Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, AKA Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, grew up in the booze-soaked British aristocracy of the early 20th century. By the time she was in her early 20s, alcohol had become part of her daily ritual. A diary entry from 1923, for example, records that she usually enjoyed sherry at 4:30 am after returning home from all-night parties. She kept drinking until her passing in 2002 at the age of 101.

How Much She Drank: The Queen Mother maintained a rigid drinking schedule. She began with some gin and Dubonnet in the morning, had red wine and port with lunch, and drank two glasses of champagne with dinner. 

Her Legacy: As an old-school royal, the Queen Mother seems to have held her alcohol remarkably well - though it's possible booze may have helped loosen her famously sharp tongue - so public incidents of drunkenness didn't really happen. But alcohol nonetheless kept her running, and she was known to bring Dubonnet with her on outings.

Signature Drink: Her beverage of choice was a blend of gin and Dubonnet - which is now known as the Queen Mother Cocktail.

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Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Which Historical Figure Would Win In An All-Night Drinking Competition?
Photo: Lloyd Arnold/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Years Active: American writer Ernest Hemingway claims he began drinking at the age of 15 in 1914, but his intake increased after his father took his life in 1937. 

How Much He Drank: It's hard to separate fact from fiction about Hemingway's larger-than-life imbibing habits, but he was seldom without a drink. He once supposedly tossed back no fewer than 17 daiquiries at a Cuban bar.

His Legacy: Hemingway's love of alcohol is arguably as famous as his writing career. Alcohol made numerous cameos in his writings. But his love of alcohol weakened his body, and Hemingway had problems with his stomach and liver.

Signature Drink: Though he is reputed to have favored daiquiris from Havana's El Floridita bar, one of his favorite drinks was a rum-based cocktail conjured up by the skipper of his boat.

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Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Which Historical Figure Would Win In An All-Night Drinking Competition?
Photo: Common Good/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Years Active: Winston Churchill seems to have first cultivated his taste for alcohol while he was a young officer in India and South Africa. This means he took drinking seriously from the age of 22 in 1895.

How Much He Drank: Churchill's love of alcohol may have been overstated, but it's true that he enjoyed a stiff drink pretty regularly. He consumed alcohol throughout the day, from wine at breakfast to champagne with guests late into the night. Though Churchill imbibed frequently, he abhorred drunkenness and once said, "I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me."

His Legacy: Alcohol was a significant feature of Churchill's diplomacy. He liked to entertain fellow world leaders - including FDR and Stalin - and bonded with them over drinks, sometimes into the early morning hours. His drinking became a political liability only when Hitler's Germany began issuing propaganda that painted Churchill as a drunk.

Signature Drink: Churchill drank everything from champagne to gin but whisky was his staple. His reputed signature drink was a Johnnie Walker-based cocktail.

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