Food & Drink

The Best Drinking Games to Play at a Bar

Even if you frequent your local bar enough to receive mail there, it’s still not your home. That means you can’t play any drinking game you want. Bartenders will not take kindly to you flipping their glassware like Solo cups or errant ping pong balls bouncing off their customers. But some drinking games translate perfectly to the bar environment, which makes them great for group nights out or fending off awkward moments when conversation runs dry.

Quarters

Quarters is the most physically active game you can play without drawing unwanted attention. You can easily fit a game on a single two-top, and there’s no way you’re going to break a glass by bouncing a quarter into it. Just be sure you have your technique down in case drinkers at a neighboring table decide to show you how it’s done.

Chandeliers

As long as you minimize the number of players to keep the setup contained, you can easily play this deluxe edition of Quarters with a few pals. We bet the bartender will happily refill all of your glasses when someone plops the quarter into the center pint glass.

Boat Race

Long bar tables are perfect for setting up a boat race. The rules—which require players finish their glasses before holding them upside down over their heads to prove they’re empty—pretty much guarantee there won’t be much of a mess, unless your friends are apt to dump beer all over themselves.

Power Hour

You’ve probably accidentally played this game in a bar before. It may not be the most exciting game on the list, but it’s the only one that allows you to freely mosey around the bar and chit chat while downing copious amounts of beer—which sounds like a pretty good time, if you ask us.

Never Have I Ever

There’s a 100-percent chance a stranger in the bar will go home knowing one of your intimate secrets, but that’s true of any wine down session with your besties anyway. Still, maybe play this one huddled close to your buds in a loud bar, just in case.

Thumper

If you feel like being that group at the bar, play this exceedingly ridiculous game of animal mimicry. Every player chooses an animal, and then acts out that creature in either noise, motion or both. A player makes their own motion, followed by the motion of another player, indicating that player should go next. Play moves quickly, and anyone who pauses too long has to drink. The game requires zero equipment, only the will to embarrass yourself a bit.

21

Another word game perfect for hanging in a bar without so much as a table, 21 requires only that you avoid saying the titular number as your circle of players counts up from one. It’s trickier than it sounds, with players reversing the order of the circle and skipping other players, but ultimately it’s a pretty tame game that requires more brain power than space.

Fingers

Fingers requires only a glass, some booze and intense concentration. All players begin by placing a finger on the rim of the glass. Each round, players have the option to leave their finger on the glass or remove it when a countdown reaches zero. The player who performs the countdown also guesses how many fingers will remain on the glass. Example: “Three, two, one, four!” If the guess of four fingers is right, the player is out and safe to watch and sip their own drink in peace. If the guess is wrong, the player stays in. Play proceeds around the circle until only one player is left, meaning that person has to drink the contents of the cup. Whether you decide to play mercifully with a single glass of beer or with a diabolical concoction of everyone’s drinks poured together, this loser-drink-all game is a contest of wits, anticipation and psychology.