Dave and Chuck the Freak

Pull up a stool and start running a tab, because we’re diving into one of rock’s most popular topics: Alcohol. Frankly, it’s practically a worldwide pastime.

After all, Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Frank Sinatra once said, “Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy.” And then, there’s the greatest quote about alcohol in the world: “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly.”

 

Whether it’s beer or wine or spirits, there are countless songs in rock history about drinking. Some of these songs are upbeat, while others are dark. Some are joyous, while others are sorrowful. Regardless, many have resonated with fans spanning multiple generations.

(Before moving forward, let’s make one thing very clear: This list isn’t meant to glorify drinking. We all know that the bottle has taken away some of the greats that we still miss today. Didn’t mean to be a downer, but it’s a sentiment worth mentioning because it’s very important. So please, drink responsibly. Now, back to the list.)

When it comes to songs about booze, which ones are the best? Surely, that’s a great debate to be had sitting at any bar. (And we strongly encourage that conversation the next time you’re at a bar. Who doesn’t love a tipsy debate?) Whether you find this list while at your favorite watering hole or come across it at a raucous party, our list will give you the perfect soundtrack for either occasion.

From hard rock to soft rock and everywhere in between, here is our ranking of the 21 best rock songs about drinking or booze. Cheers!

RELATED: Unique Barware That Makes Your Home Bar The Party Spot

  • 21. KISS - ‘Cold Gin’

    Written by guitarist Ace Frehley for KISS’ self-titled 1974 debut album, the song is actually sung by bassist Gene Simmons; it’s well known that he doesn’t drink. The song is far darker than its minimalist groove and touches on themes of alcoholism. However, that didn’t stop KISS from creating their own gin aptly named, of course, “Cold Gin.”

  • 20. UB40 - ‘Red Red Wine’

    Who among us hasn’t drank to forget a broken heart? (If you can’t relate, honestly, what are you even doing reading this list?) Anyway, “Red Red Wine” was originally written and recorded by Neil Diamond in 1967. It was a moderate hit for Diamond. UB40 put a reggae spin on this song and originally released it in 1983. However, the song didn’t really take off until 1988, when the band performed the cover at Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday concert. Soon after, the track was re-released and went number one in seven countries, including the United States.

  • 19. Black Flag - ‘Six Pack’

    This intense hardcore punk classic from Black Flag is actually a negative commentary on those who only want to drink and do nothing else. It may not inspire you to drink, but you’ll definitely feel like starting your own moshpit when you hear it.

  • 18. Eagles - ‘Tequila Sunrise’

    Going from hardcore punk to country soft rock, “Tequila Sunrise” isn’t about the cocktail that was super popular in the early ‘70s. This Eagles song is about drinking from a broken heart all night long and seeing the actual sun rise. (“Take another shot of courage/Wonder why the right words never come/You just get numb/It’s another tequila sunrise, this old world/Still looks the same/Another frame, mmm.”)

  • 17. Billy Joel - ‘Piano Man’

    If you’ve never been in a dive bar at nine o’clock on a Saturday and someone puts on “Piano Man” that eventually leads to sing-a-long, you truly have never lived. Few songs make you forget about life for a while like this Billy Joel classic, if only to make you realize you just might have it better than some of the patrons at the joint in the song. One thing we can all agree on is that those businessmen slowly getting stoned are probably very annoying to the waitress practicing politics.

  • 16. Eric Burdon and War - ‘Spill the Wine’

    No one quite knows what “Spill the wine/take that pearl” means, but the inspiration behind the song is definitely one of music’s many “happy accidents.” According to Eric Burdon’s memoir Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (h/t Medium), Burdon and War were in a recording studio when someone actually spilled a bottle of wine on a mixing board. Everything just snowballed from there, and a hit was born!

  • 15. Elton John - ‘Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting)’

    “I’m a juvenile product of the working class/Whose best friend floats in the bottom of a glass.” Man…that Bernie Taupin sure has a way with words, and he certainly paints a vivid picture of a packed bar where most folks are looking to get loaded. It remains one of Elton John’s best and most popular songs and his hardest rocking tune thanks to the killer playing of guitarist Davey Johnstone.

  • 14. Dropkick Murphys - ‘Kiss Me, I'm #!@'faced’

    Dropkick Murphys have a number of songs about drinking, but “Kiss Me, I’m #!@’faced” is the funnest one in their entire catalog. Many can relate to talking a big game at the bar in the hopes of going home with someone. However, the true heart of this song is when Ken Casey comes clean in the fourth verse about all his tall tales. (“But just give me a chance, ’cause deep down inside/I swear I got a big heart of gold/I’m a monogamous man, no more one night stands/Come on, honey, let me take you home.”)

    Because of the song’s language, it cannot be embedded, but you can listen to it here.

  • 13. Van Halen - ‘Take Your Whiskey Home’

    Clearly, the protagonist in this VH tune has a drinking problem, but it’s so easy to forget about it thanks to its killer groove. Also, that plucky guitar intro is just another example of Eddie Van Halen’s brilliance and why he’s so missed.

  • 12. Flogging Molly - ‘These Times Have Got Me Drinking’

    Like their contemporaries the Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly also has pleny of songs about drinking, but “These Times Have Got Me Drinking” certainly hits close to home for many. The track was the lead single off the band’s seventh studio album, 2022’s Anthem. Singer Dave King said in a statement about the song, “It’s the perfect song for right now. I think it summarizes everything our band is about – which is celebration with our loved ones in trying times. It’s about joy amidst, and in spite of, stuff trying to grind us down.”

  • 11. Sammy Hagar - ‘Mas Tequila’

    The Red Rocker knew exactly what he was doing when he released “Mas Tequila” in 1999. Around that time, his Cabo Wabo tequila brand was just taking off. What better way to advertise a new business venture than with an absurdly catchy song? Side note: About a decade later, Hagar sold 80% of his interest in Cabo Wabo tequila to the tune of $80 million. He said in a 2022 interview with TMZ he’s made way more money in his non-music business than he ever did in the music industry.

  • 10. Jimmy Buffett - ‘Why Don’t We Get Drunk’

    Some might think “Margaritaville” should be here instead, but the blunt nature of “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” has a simplistic beauty as it playfully satirizes country love songs. You have to try really hard to hate this Jimmy Buffett classic. Man…Buffett is so incredibly missed!  

  • 9. Chumbawamba - ‘Tubthumping’

    Was “Tubthumping” played to death in the late ‘90s? Yes, but there’s no denying its place on this list. It’s one of the greatest earworms about drinking ever written by a group of British anti-fascist communists. Bonus points for making the lyric “Pissing the night away…” a secondary hook in the tune.

  • 8. ZZ Top - ‘Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers’

    Fact: Tying one on and heading out to hear live music is just an outstanding premise for a song. ZZ Top was well aware of that very early in their career with 1973’s “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers.” The guitar solo from Billy Gibbons is just aces, and his vocals with the late Dusty Hill were just perfection.

  • 7. The Doors - ’Roadhouse Blues’

    The Doors are obviously known for psychedelia, but when they ventured into the blues, they really cooked. “Roadhouse Blues” is one of the best examples of that. The classic lyric “Well, I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer!” was apparently a quote from Alice Cooper. The Godfather of Shock Rock said back in 2008, “We were sitting there drinking and Jim comes in and he flops down. I said that I had got up this morning and got myself a beer and while we’re talking he just writes that down. So they go in and they’re doing the song and the next thing I hear is ‘Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer’ and I went ‘I just said that a second ago!’”

  • 6. Beastie Boys - ‘Brass Monkey’

    Let’s set the record straight: The “Brass Monkey” the Beasties were referring to was actually a pre-mixed vodka, dark rum and orange juice cocktail that came in various sized bottles/cans and not a mixture of malt liquor and orange juice. (Mike D confirmed this in a 2014 interview.) The energy of the track is the perfect encapsulation of the feeling of getting hammered in your late teens and early twenties. Then, at some point, you hit the age where you can’t drink stuff like Brass Monkey anymore, because the orange juice gives you major acid reflux. And then you realize you’re not a punk kid anymore, but at least you still have those hazy memories.

  • 5. Thin Lizzy - ‘Whiskey in the Jar’

    “Whiskey in the Jar” is a traditional Irish folk song that has been recorded by a number of artists including Metallica and Bryan Adams. However, it’s hard to argue against Thin Lizzy’s 1972 recording being the definitive version. Phil Lynott’s trademark raspy vocals just hit you right in the gut, which is probably a similar feeling to how the song’s protagonist felt when his woman turned on him and landed him in jail.

  • 4. George Thorogood & The Destroyers - ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’

    George Thorogood & The Destroyers’ “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” is actually a mashup of two John Lee Hooker recordings: The aforementioned “One Bourbon…” and “House Rent Boogie.” It’s definitely not a “mashup” by today’s standards, but most would let Thorogood slide on that one. That seven-verse build until the chorus is truly something else.

  • 3. Muddy Waters - ‘Champagne and Reefer’

    “Champagne and Reefer” was featured on 1981’s King Bee, which was the final studio album from Muddy Waters released two years before the blues icon died. Until the very end, he was writing stone-cold classics. (“Yeah, bring me champagne when I’m thirsty/Bring me reefer when I want to get high.”)

  • 2. Guns N’ Roses - ‘Nightrain’

    As far as songs about cheap wine go, “Nightrain” is definitely the most badass and for sure has the best hook. Also, it features easily one of the best uses of cowbell ever. (No one tell Gene Frankel/Will Ferrell.)

  • 1. AC/DC - ‘Have a Drink on Me’

    Within the first verse of “Have a Drink on Me,” we’re already dealing with five drink references. (“Whiskey, gin and brandy/With a glass, I’m pretty handy/I’m tryin’ to walk a straight line/On sour mash and cheap wine.”) From there, there’s somehow additional spirits in store.

    This list has explored songs about drinking/booze through a variety of different lenses, from pensive odes to lost loves to cautionary tales and everywhere in between. At the end of it all, when it comes to drinking, most of us just want to unwind, have a good time and forget about whatever troubles we’re dealing with. AC/DC’s “Have a Drink on Me” is the textbook example of that. After all, as Brian Johnson wailed, “Don’t worry about tomorrow/Take it today/Forget about the check, we’ll get hell to pay.” We all can drink to that.

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