The 50 best drinking songs

Raise a toast to the greatest pop, punk, rap, country and Irish drinking songs ever recorded about beer, whiskey, wine and white lightning

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10

“Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” by the Doors

Penned by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill for the incendiary 1930 opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, this song was originally performed by a chorus of prostitutes. This more famous cover was recorded by the Doors in 1966 with a carnivalesque sound that perfectly illustrates what it's like to be smashed and along for the ride.—Kate Wertheimer

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9

“Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks

You can’t help but sing along with the common people at the local watering hole when the jukebox starts playing Garth Brooks’s 1990 ode to drinking the blues away. You’ll suddenly find yourself line dancing with folks you’ve never met and seeing if your vocal register can go to those low places in the song’s signature chorus. And, of course, there will be plenty of whiskey and beer flowing. Fun fact: In the perfect marriage of song to hapless sports team, the Kansas City Royals (two winning seasons in the last 19 years) adopted “Friends in Low Places” as their sixth-inning sing-along anthem. It serves as a constant reminder to beleaguered fans that misery loves company…and booze.—Michael Chen

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8

“Sippin’ on Some Syrup” by Three 6 Mafia

Cough medicine plus Sprite, plus Jolly Ranchers. Holy shit, people drink that? Sprite? Look, when you’re broke, you have to get creative with your addictions. Anything can become a habit. As Pimp C proclaimed in this song in 2000: “We eat so many shrimp, I’ve got iodine poisoning.” So how did this Memphis hip-hop troupe go on to win an Oscar in 2006, for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"? Even pharmacists would have a hard time finding rhymes for promethazine and hydrocodone.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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7

“Too Drunk to Fuck” by Dead Kennedys

Hey, it’s happened to the best of us. This 1981 surf-rock-heavy single was the fourth from the California punkers, who paint an exaggerated party picture mostly to offend music-industry prudes. Although the song reached No. 36 on the U.K. singles chart, it was often banned or censored, leading the Kennedys to supply a sticker for record shops reading “Caution: You are the victim of yet another stodgy retailer afraid to warp your mind by revealing the title of this record, so peel slowly and see.…” Nice touch, Biafra.—Kate Wertheimer

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6

“Tequila” by the Champs

This two-minute instrumental—an ode to the magical elixir that needs but a one-word introduction—was recorded in 1958 by the Champs and written by Danny Flores, the voice behind the three mischievous "tequila"s spoken throughout and the man responsible for the tune's trademark "dirty sax" solo. We'll say this—the song gets us dancing even quicker than tequila does.—Kate Wertheimer

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5

“Whiskey River” by Willie Nelson

Some consideration was given to “I Gotta Get Drunk,” a 1970 Willie tune covered wonderfully by Phosphorescent in 2009. But that was the short-haired, clean-shaven Willie. On principle, we went with this classic off of Shotgun Willie, from the dawn of his stoner-cowboy era. Even though it was written by Johnny Bush, the song belongs to Willie, as essential to him as long braids and a bandanna.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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4

“Lilac Wine” by Nina Simone

Originally penned in 1950 for a theater revue, “Lilac Wine” has been covered by such greats as Eartha Kitt, Jeff Buckley and, er, Miley Cyrus. But only the High Priestess of Soul is able to give this moody ode to infatuation the drama and chill its lyrics and melody beg for. In her 1966 interpretation, her voice prowls around the song’s deliciously dark lyrics like a cat, and for the listener, intoxication is inevitable.—Sophie Harris

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3

“White Lightning” by George Jones

Beer and whiskey odes abound, but there aren't too many moonshine songs. Just this one, really. Perhaps that’s because folks who drink methanol-laden mountain dew end up wearing overalls with one strap and having just as many teeth. Written by the Big Bopper, he of the Day the Music Died, “White Lightning” took George Jones to No. 1 in 1959. Essentially, this was the “Sippin’ on Some Syrup” of the Eisenhower era.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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2

“Gin & Juice” by Snoop Dogg

This was the first rap song to provide high-school parties with a cocktail recipe right in the title. Well, juice can be expensive. But “Gin & Gatorade” just doesn’t have the same mellifluousness. On a side note, when’s the last time you heard someone refer to weed as “indo”? 1994?—Brent DiCrescenzo

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Users say

2 comments
DEBORAH F
DEBORAH F

I didn't see Ein Kleiner Jagermeister, which SHOULD be #1 on that list.