Nothing pairs better with drinking a beer than some good music, but as any music purveyor or drink connoisseur would tell you, it takes the right songs to create the perfect mood. Although every genre has a song referring to drinking in some context, that doesn’t necessarily make it the right drinking buddy. Most would agree a finely-aged red wine isn’t the most apt when listening to raucous power chords lining Mastodon’s Crack the Skye, but we’ll be damned if doesn’t make a nice pairing with Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. Even if you’re not necessarily looking for a song or artist to drink to, there are countless songs about drinking, spanning everyone from notorious Snoop Dogg, the classic Johnny Cash, and ridiculous LMFAO. Not all of them are great, but there’s plenty of quality offerings for every taste … if you know where to look.
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Gin & Juice by Snoop Doggy Dogg, 1993
In his pre-Lion days, Snoop’s only goal was to make sure everyone was having a good time. With that in mind, use this song to slow down a party and just enjoy each other’s company, sending all those cares right out the window along with your sobriety. Gin & Juice is teeming with nostalgia for a simpler time when Dr. Dre brought Tanquerey, the Seagram’s was gone, and people sat in their front lawns and drank the day away. Though this is how Snoop presumably lives, it gives the common man an escape from the trials and tribulations of a real life. Put your feet up and imagine a Saturday afternoon at the Dogg residence.
Suggested drink pairing: Gin and Juice (obviously).
Tequila by The Champs, 1958
There isn’t much to this classic, but sometimes less is more. Prominently featured in the cult-classic The Sandlot, the song provides a wave of nostalgia for any party-goer who has ever tried chewing tobacco at a carnival — or merely anyone who’s seen the movie. Even if you haven’t enjoyed the exploits of Smalls and Benny “the Jet” Rodriquez, you can still participate in the song given its entire set of lyrics comprise of a single word. That said, beware of people throwing their hands in the air when they yell out Tequila. Perhaps you should provide lids to drinks before hitting the play button.
Suggested drink pairing: The obvious bet is Tequila, but you can always opt for a nice light beer if it isn’t the night for hard alcohol.
Old Number Seven by The Devil Makes Three, 2002
Not only does it refer directly to Jack Daniels whiskey in the title and chorus, but lead singer Pete Bernhard always sounds a little drunk, meaning he could fit right in with you and your friends. Better yet, if you’re alone, he will make you feel like you have a friend. Though the bluegrass song is about dying and going to hell, there’s a certain satisfaction that goes along with believing you’ll still be able drink whiskey in the afterlife. Regardless, it doesn’t make Bernhard’s raspy delivery and nonchalant vocal style any easier on the ears.
Suggested drink pairing: Bottom-shelf whiskey, preferably Wild Turkey or Old Crow.
Spill the Wine by Eric Burdon and War, 1970
Though it seems like a huge party foul, War aptly describes a confusing alcohol-induced dream that could happen to anyone. Though the exact implications of the number are open to interpretation, the song’s smooth sound and repetitive chorus make it one of the most memorable. The track will chill the room out, so save it until the end of the night or if things are getting too rowdy. Burdon’s honeyed voice will surely calm your guests down so they can leave in a timely fashion. It is much classier than just telling everyone to get out.
Suggested drink pairing: Wine is a risky choice based on the song title alone, so something wine-adjacent like Sangria is a safer bet.
Brass Monkey by The Beastie Boys, 1986
It’s not Shakespeare, but it did help popularize one of the trashiest drinks of the time (and all-time for that matter). It’s an undoubtedly catchy piece of New York hip-hop from arguably the Beastie Boys’ best album, License to Ill. It’s named after the alcoholic drink of the same name, one crafted using Olde English malt liquor and healthy sampling of orange juice — but unlike the drink — it’s far more attractive on a hot afternoon in Brooklyn. Simply throw it in a paper bag and have an excellent night.
Suggested drink pairing: A 40-ounce bottle of Old English mixed with your favorite brand of orange juice.
Red Solo Cup by Toby Keith, 2011
For some reason, a Solo red cup has become the ultimate signal of a party despite the plethora of available brands and color offerings lining the aisles of any grocery store. Apparently, the piece of plastic has become such a social norm that Keith’s companions wrote an ode to their greatness, providing a classic country tune in the key of A Major. With a star-studded video featuring cameos from Jeff Dunham and Craig Ferguson, it’s no wonder the song won Music Video of the Year at the 2012 CMA Awards.
Suggested drink pairing: Cheap domestic beer housed in a red Solo cup.
Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett, 1978
Unfortunately, our roundup would not be complete without the addition of Buffett’s Caribbean classic. Playing Margaritaville can take a party in two directions: it can start a rambunctious sing along or turn everyone into pathetic sad sacks thinking about the one that got away. However, it is the only way to see which one of your friends are closet Parrotheads — the official term for fanatic Buffett fans — because surely no one else knows all of the words. Buffet’s speak-singing is easy for even the worst singer to emulate, and the island bongos and marimbas will transport you to your own personal beach.
Suggested drink pairing: A margarita with Sauza tequila and extra salt,.
Shots by LMFAO, 2009
Shots is by no means the most lyrically-savvy choice on our list, yet it gets straight to the point in a matter of moments. LMFAO acts like a party defibrillator, allowing you to inject a burst of energy into the room when things are beginning to slow down. If you need even more of an incentive, the electro duo’s tune even features vocals from American crunk rapper Lil Jon, giving the song a welcome familiarity even haters can’t help but sing along to. Just remember, once is enough. No one needs to hear the word “shots” more than 80 times in a single sitting.
Suggested drink pairing: A shot of Smirnoff with a Four Loco chaser.
Beer by Reel Big Fish, 1995
Depending on how you interpret the lyrics, Reel Big Fish’s Beer can double as a pump-up song before a night on the town or a sad recollection of past nights. Regardless of the actual meaning, however, it will surely make you think of beer. Part of the ska band’s debut album (Everything Sucks), the song is chock full of “whoohoos” and “yeahs,” a style that quickly came to define the band and rendered them a staple among Warp Tours. Beer was later rerecorded like most tracks off the album, but the lo-fi rendition remains the best.
Suggested drink pairing: Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, 1968
Though Sweet Caroline isn’t about drinking or alcohol, it remains one of the best songs to belt out while intoxicated or otherwise. You’ll feel alive, whether you’re singing alone or in a bar full of people a la Top Gun, though we doubt your honeyed voice will wisp others away to a wonderful place the way Diamond’s does. Hell, it can also be used as a way to bring everyone together in one room to share a moment together — again, think Tom Cruise in Top Gun.
Suggested drink pairing: A nice microbrew, or something closer to the top shelf given Diamond is a classy gentleman.
Drunk Girls by LCD Soundsystem, 2010
In 2010’s aptly-titled Drunk Girls, the late LCD Soundsystem lays out a list of facts pertaining to drunk boys and girls (most of which ring true). Frontman James Murphy describes a night at a bar, girls waiting in line to pee, and how the sex essentially has the patience of a million saints. The song is a commentary regarding how people are expected to act on a night out and how they really act, dissecting social norms of and inevitable stereotypes that go hand in hand with drunken antics. If all that social commentary is too much for your intoxicated self to handle, just scream “Drunk girls” over and over.
Suggested drink pairing: Long Island Iced Tea, or anything else that contains at least three kinds of alcohol and tastes like Kool-Aid.
Drunken Lullabies by Flogging Molly, 2002
The list wouldn’t be complete without an Irish punk band leading the charge. Drunken Lullabies details the tortured relationship between the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, and though lyrically heavy, it serves as superb introduction to the world of Flogging Molly. Then again, really any song on the band’s repertoire would work just fine if you’d rather avoid mumbling through the song’s political undertones and sense of civil unrest.
Suggested drink pairing: A nice Irish whiskey, or Bailey’s if you’d rather take it slow.