Weird History

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

Setareh Janda
523 votes 139 voters 3k 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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Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 2 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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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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Hunter S. Thompson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Which Historical Figure Would Win In An All-Night Drinking Competition?
Photo:  Rs79/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
4 45 VOTES
Hunter S. Thompson Chased His Alcohol With Coke

Years Active: American writer and pioneering gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson began drinking at a young age. By the time he was 14 in 1951, he was already addicted.

How Much He Drank: Substances were by his side as soon as he started the day at 3 pm until he ended it the following morning, including frequent rounds of booze and coke.

His Legacy: Thompson believed substances like alcohol had an impact on his ability to work and function, and he secured his reputation as a counter-culture figure with quips like, "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've worked for me." He also wrote frequently about alcohol in general and bourbon in particular. Ultimately, decades of hard drinking and drug use wore down his body.

Signature Drink: Thompson was from Louisville, KY, and appropriately favored bourbon.

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