The 5 best State of the Union drinking games

We're not saying you should get drunk watching tonight's speech, but if you want to ...

Justin Spees
January 26, 2011 4:17AM (UTC)

Many Americans will listen intently tonight to what President Obama has to say about the economy, Tucson, the Middle East and other pressing topics. Others will take the opportunity to drink alcohol. If you happen to be in the latter camp, we've compiled this handy guide to the five State of the Union drinking games we think will provide the best bang for your buck on this historic night.

Marc Melzer and Howard Deutsh's game on
This is the most basic of the drinking games we found, and therefore the most plausible. Think of it as your safe bet (in terms of the rules themselves applying to the speech, not in terms of health. If you actually play by all of these rules, you will die). There are simple shot commands for the Obama and/or 2011 general climate safe buzzwords ("hope," "change," "progress," "civility"), shots for mentioning key Arab nations, and key domestic issues ("education," "jobs").


But some of the rules are complicated. If at any point tonight Obama says the words "budget freeze," you must mix a frozen drink, pour the drink into a cup half the size of the drink, and lick the remnants off the floor. If he says "filibuster," drink steadily until 60 percent of the people around you agree to stop.

The Esquire blog editors' game on
Consider this the high-stakes game. There is a very good chance that you will stay sober throughout the night, but if you don't, it will have been an SOTU for the ages. This game focuses on the response of the crowd rather than the speaker himself. It starts simply enough: take a sip of beer for the standard things like a Democrat standing while a Republican sits, or vice versa. In the name of this season of civility it also calls for a sip whenever the camera shows two members of different parties sitting next to each other. Close-ups of sad or angry reps require a drink, as does a close-up of Joe Lieberman looking constipated, which I guess happens.

Though things get heavy very quickly. Take a shot of liquor if there is audible booing, which there might be. Take two shots if there is actual heckling, or if the president calls someone out by name, which to my knowledge is unprecedented but would be amazing to see. A reference to Keith Olbermann's retirement or Mrs. Obama's dress gets three shots, and if someone shouts out, "You lie!" you finish the bottle.


Daniel Kurtzman's game on
The chances of any of these things actually happening makes the rules of this game purely theoretical, but we'd be remiss if we didn't include anyone who thought the president of the United States might say, "It reminds me of my childhood in Kenya." I can't go through all the gems laden in Kurtzman's rule book -- it's worth just reading over -- but other highlights include taking a shot whenever Obama says, "The rent is too damn high," "Hold on, I just got a text," or "At the risk of making John Boehner cry, I'm going to read some passages from 'Old Yeller.'"

Rob Bacardi's game on his personal blog:
Constructed from a conservative perspective, this game comes with physical instructions like face-palming in addition to having a sip of beer if Obama mentions new spending initiatives. Most of the rules are both complaints that the GOP would have with Obama and things that Obama would actually do: mentioning a "new era" warrants two drinks, and mentioning immigration reform warrants three, though the drink must specifically be tequila and the Puerto Rican author commands you then announce your racism for spreading stereotypes.

But what earns this game a spot on this list is the rule that you must chug if Obama uses the term "Obamacare." It occurs to me that he's never publicly done this -- maybe it's about time.


The official State of the Union Drinking Game blog game:
Yes, I've saved the best for last, or at least the most obvious for last. It turns out there's a regularly updated site dedicated to creating a new game for each new State of the Union speech. There are all sorts of intricate rules, but there's also an inherent simplicity to this game: Drink if the state of the union is strong. Drink twice if it's very strong.

The rules require one shot or drink for each item on the list that the speech or camera hits. Highlights include drinking if mention is made of "securing the borders," drinking twice if the camera pans to someone Latino, and three times if the camera pans to Robert Menendez or Marco Rubio. And my favorite: One drink if DADT is brought up, two drinks if the camera moves to someone in uniform, and three if two individuals in uniform are holding hands.


These are the options we've found most suitable for tonight's festivities. Of course, if you think you've come up with better ones, please don't hesitate to share them.

Justin Spees

Justin Spees is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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