Now we’re not ones to encourage binge drinking, but we’re also not the kind of people to shy away from a good drinking game. And it’s something that the Brits do as well as anyone in the world. These are five of the best drinking games that the UK has to offer… Now, we’re not claiming that they’re all unique to the UK, although a few certainly originated here. Maybe you could try a couple of these next time you stop by The Pride of Spitalfields, one of the best pubs in London and a stop on the East End Food Tour.
Football, for many in Britain, is not a sport that needs to be made any more interesting, but there is also no harm in adding some extra excitement to the beautiful game. The rules of Drinking Football involve players making “bets” with each other on pretty much any activity during the football game (or soccer game, to some) that they’re watching. The wagers of these bets consist of “fingers” (place your finger on the side of your glass along the high water mark; one finger is the amount of the drink that would need to be consumed to be below that mark). A player who makes the bet will offer the number of fingers and odds to other players, one or more of whom can take the bet. For example: “I would like to bet 2 fingers that the next player to head the ball will have an odd number on his shirt, 1:1 odds.”
Why mess with a classic? 21 may be the first drinking game that half the UK population ever play and it’s fantastic in its simplicity. It starts with one person who “declares” the game of 21 to be going either to their left or to their right. They then start by saying one, two or three numbers, counting up chronologically. If they say one number, it moves on to the next person; two numbers and the direction is reversed; three numbers skips a person. The game is lost when someone speaks out of turn or is forced to say the final number, 21. At this point, of course, the loser drinks. Rules can be added to make the game harder, such as replacing certain numbers with noises or other words, skipping all multiples of five, and so on. The more rules, the harder the game becomes and it never takes long for glasses to empty on this one.
One of the newer additions to the list of great British drinking games, Bar Curling involves two players going head to head sliding a glass across a table. Sounds boring? Well, it isn’t. The aim of the game is to score a point by sliding your glass so part of the base hangs over the side of the table, without the glass falling. This is known as “peekage”. There are many forms of the game: “quick-draw”, “20twenty”, “test matches” and others, and the specifics of scoring vary for each. In quick draw, for example, it is the first to three points; whereas in 20twenty, the player with the most points after 20 “ends” (slides of the glass) each is the winner. Doubles and team bar curling also take place in bars with suitable tables (and relaxed bar staff) across the country.
The first of two games in this list to involve a deck of cards, Electricity is a simple game that involves a group of players in a circle turning over cards in turn. Ahead of this, the entire deck of cards is dealt out evenly to all players, who have them in front of them, face down. Players then each turn over the cards and when there is a match, either in suit of number, the players involved in the match drink. However, it gets more complicated: matches can involve more than two people, can cross over both suit and number, and can go in either direction numerically. So as an example: if player 1 draws a four of clubs and player 2 pulls a four of diamonds, both of those players drink. But if player 3 pulls a nine of diamonds, all three then drink again, and so on. Of all the games on this list, none empty glasses with the speed of Electricity.
Ring of Fire
A staple of university halls and house parties across the country, Ring of Fire is fantastic in that it’s actually many drinking games within one bigger game. The second game in this list to feature a deck of cards, you start by putting the cards, face down, in a “ring” around a central glass. Each number in the deck of cards is then assigned either a mini-game or rule, and players take turns to pick them up. For example, picking a five can lead to a game of “Fives”; a nine would then trigger a game of “Rhymes”. Some cards are simpler: a two or three means you can allocate a drink to someone, or take one yourself depending on the color of the card. Like many great games, Ring of Fire seems to have different rules depending on where you’re playing it and who you’re playing it with. There are two ways to finish the game: one is when the “ring” is broken – in other words, a card is taken which leaves a gap in the ring, so the circle is broken. The other is when the fourth king is drawn; usually drawing a king means that you pour some of your drink into the middle glass, but the fourth king means that person must drink whatever horrible concoction is in there.
So there you have it: five of the best UK drinking games, but there are many, many others. Something that the Brits take pride in is being able to turn anything, and I do mean anything, into a drinking game. Personal favorites include Drinking Cricket, Drinking People Watching and Drinking Trains. Let us know in the comments if we have missed any games that you think should be included, or even if you have invented your own game!