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.
Gin House Blues by Nina Simone, 1961
Though a cover of Bessie Smith’s prohibition-abetted Me and My Gin, Nina Simone’s swinging jazz rendition of the tune showcases the artist’s outstanding vocal abilities and undeniable talent. Simone declares she will always ask for gin regardless if the authorities come to shut down her party. It may sound like an anthem for a die-hard party animal at times, but the song is teeming with lyrics clearly evident of alcohol abuse. Simone states she would essentially pass up everything she owns — clothes, shelter, and even food — for a bottle of gin. Still, leave it to Nina Simone to make you dance to the follies of substance abuse.
Suggested drink pairing: Bootleg gin, like, straight out of a bathtub.
Cold Gin by Kiss, 1974
It would appear juniper-laden gin is a substance often written about in the music world. Perhaps because it goes down smooth, or maybe it’s because it rhymes with sin, him, thin, and countless other words. Whatever the reason, Kiss’ Cold Gin revolves around a man who doesn’t posses electricity or heat, yet he does have enough cold gin to get him through the night. Like nearly every Kiss song, it’s peppered with frequent “woos” and the occasional “ow,” though it is one of the more dance-worthy tracks on band’s debut. Just remember to kick out the first party guest to asks you why you’re doing the “Miley” after you stick your tongue out.
Suggested drink pairing: Cold, bottom-shelf gin with a smidgen of mascara.
Piano Man by Billy Joel, 1971
While Billy Joel does make direct references to alcohol in his timeless classic, Piano Man would be better suited in a sing-along category all its own. If you examine the lyrics too closely however, you’ll soon realize the song isn’t exactly condoning alcohol but profiling a group of lonely people whom frequent a local bar. For some that might set the perfect drinking mood, but if that whole idea bums you out, put your focus on the fact that Joel’s sweet vocals are bringing hope to the hopeless patrons of your friendly, neighborhood bar. Regardless of your feelings toward the lyrics, you can’t help but belt that chorus like no one is watching.
Suggested drink pairing: Scotch, a cigar, and a tip jar.
En El Cielo No Hay Cerveza by Flaco Jimenez, 2003
Flaco Jimenez was using YOLO before Drake was even a glimmer in the eyes of Canadian teen drama writers. With En El Cielo No Hay Cerveza, Jimenez puts forth the idea that you might as well drink as much while you’re living, given that there’s no beer in heaven. A novel idea, sure, but the song makes a point nonetheless. Given Jimenez is primarily a mariachi performer, the song is laden with upbeat horns and accordion, routinely switching between English and Spanish for a bit of bilingual debauchery.
Suggested drink pairing: A light, Mexican beer such as Pacifico or Sol.
Who Are You by The Who, 1978
Who Are You was a song about a drunken and confusing night well before it was prominently featured on CSI. Rollicking in brief harmonies and Pete’s Townshend’s iconic guitarwork, the song highlights the less glamorous side of being a rock star, such as arguing over song royalties and deciding if you should “sell out.” It’s easy to recognize and even easier to sing, providing no better opportunity to say “who” over and over again. And let’s face it, we’ve all awoken from a bender to look in the mirror and ask, “who are you?”
Suggested drink pairing: Whatever you can manage to shove in a brown bag.
You and Me and the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight by Big Bad Voodoo Daddies, 1994
Southern California’s Big Bad Voodoo Daddies are the epitome of modern swing music. You and Me is about a raucous night of drinking, and unlike many other songs on our roundup, it doesn’t exhibit dark undercurrents of despair and alcohol abuse. It’s simply about a man going out with his friends, bumping into their friend named Mo along the way. What the song lacks in lyrical content it makes up for with a heaping of trumpet and saxophone, providing a welcome catalyst on the dance floor and beyond.
Suggested drink pairing: Nice, speakeasy-esque gin or whiskey.
One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer by George Thorogood, 1977
A medley of two John Lee Hook tunes and easily one of the longest songs on our list, George Thorogood’s rendition of One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer really is the quintessential cover. The singer details the harrowing events transpiring after he lost his job, which as expected, culminate with him drowning his sorrows with bourbon, scotch, and beer at the local bar. It begins with Thorogood talking more than actually singing, but it soon segues into a driving blues number featuring seemingly-drunken vocals and real-life homages.
Suggested drink pairing: One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer of your choice.
Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) by The Doors, 1967
Really, any Doors song is excellent to drink to, but this one in particular is weird enough to captivate a room full of people with varying musical tastes. The song’s roots lie in a Bertolt Brecht poem and a German opera, but singer Jim Morrison adapted the song in the late ’60s, changing the melody and the lyrics of several verses in the process. Though it’s encased in carnival-esque demeanor, one teeming with marxophone and keyboard, it’s still a sure fit for any occasion involving fermented grain mash and surly characters.
Suggested drink pairing: Whiskey (and lots of it).
Pass the Courvoisier Part II by Busta Rhymes, 2002
What happens when the likes of Busta Rhymes, Pharell, and Puff Daddy collaborate on a remix pulled from Rhymes’ fifth album? Party magic. It doesn’t matter who you are or what kind of music you listen to, no one can resist the allure of pre-Arby’s hat and Pharell’s smooth croon when paired with Diddy’s awkward rhymes. As expected, the lyrics teeter on the explicit side, but you can always find a clean remix if, you know, you’re catering the song toward your grandmother.
Suggested drink pairing: Something that likely costs more than you make in a month.
Tubthumping by Chumbawamba, 1997
Listening to Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping is like living above a pub where the local soccer team always wins. The song is always loud, typically obnoxious, and usually requires you to drink copious amounts of alcohol just to get through. Everyone feels included when the band names a laundry list of alcohol, and at the end of the day, people who drink together just want to be included. It doesn’t help that you feel like you’re already slurring your speech when you say the band name.
Suggested drink pairing: Please refer to the song lyrics above.
Escape (The Piña ColadaSong) by Rupert Holmes, 1979
Not only is Escape one of the catchiest songs of any generation, it’s also one of very few on our list that don’t discuss hard alcohol or beer. The song was the last U.S. number one song of the ’70s, unintentionally popularizing the under-appreciated vacation that stems from a tall piña colada. However, most people are unaware the song is describing a situation in which a man unknowingly answers his own wife’s personal ad when he becomes bored with his domestic relationship at home. Adultery aside, almost everyone in the English-speaking world knows at least the first line of the chorus.
Suggested drink pairing: A piña colada, preferably with your significant other.
Red, Red Wine by UB40, 1983
Though originally a Neil Diamond song, UB40 covered the somber country ballad on its first covers album, Labour of Love. It’s a slow, reggae-style number encompassing the inevitable aftermath that ensues with the loss of a significant other. The song obviously deals with the act of uncontrollably drinking your troubles away, but to be honest, the song’s seductive nature and added toast verse will likely do more to push away your sorrows than a fine glass of pinot noir ever could. It’s the kind of cover any musician should be proud of.
Suggested drink pairing: Seeing how red wine brings to mind dark memories, stick with white.
Sunday Morning Comedown by Johnny Cash, 1970
Johnny Cash was no stranger to adult beverages. First released on the Man in Black’s live album, The Johnny Cash Show, the Kris Kristofferson original delves in the loneliness that accompanies depression and the subsiding haze we sometimes find ourselves in from time to time. Though somber, it still features Cash’s iconic voice and timber, and represents one of the later highlights of his career. It’s certainly no Ring of Fire, but at least you won’t have the feverish buzzing of trumpets stuck in your head for the rest of the night.
Suggested drink pairing: A mimosa … at least if you happen to listen to the song on Sunday morning. Otherwise, beer.
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