Game night has always been a great excuse to get friends together for a night of drinking under the guise of communal entertainment. For a long time, quarantine prevented us from doing so. This forced us to find online gaming platforms, virtual hangouts, and other creative web-based solutions in an effort to safely maintain our social connections. Now that it’s safe to see your friends again, there’s no reason these newfound traditions of virtual game nights have to come to an end.
There’s still a huge spectrum of drinking games online available, from classic board games and card games, to online versions of tried-and-true drinking games we all remember from our college days. One of the best places to start will be platforms set up for just such a purpose.
Jackbox Games has a huge collection of games, though these are for purchase, with “party packs” costing from about $10 to $20. There’s a wide range of other platforms, such as Board Game Arena, which touts 175 games, and Tabletopia, with over 900 board games, including a limited free membership and more expansive premium options. Tabletop Simulator is a paid system with rich graphics and animation, taking board games to the online screen. DrinkVirtually.com, meanwhile, is focused on your old-school drinking games, with over half a dozen options ready to go for your next hangout, virtual or in person.
Here’s a sampling of some of our favorite online drinking games you’ll be eager to play with a large group or just a few friends.
Top Online Drinking Games
Few things are more of a bummer than having to admit to your foe, “you sunk my battleship!” It’s a terrible psychological wound from a favorite childhood game, and it can be easily adapted to a drinking game by sipping whenever your opponent has a hit, and chugging or finishing a drink when a ship is sunk. There are simple, stripped-down versions of online Battleship available for free, as well as options available from aforementioned platforms such as Board Game Arena.
Sean Hudgins, a spirits publicist at Evins Communications, has been playing CodeNames, which features a word-based game board in which teams are given clues to guess the specific words that would earn them points. Full rules are available here. “As far as the drinking rules, we play so that the other team has to take a sip for every word you get right,” he says. “You take a shot for every one of the other team’s words you guess unintentionally, and if your team guesses the ‘bomb’ you have to finish your drink.”
Drunk Pirate is a free online drinking game based around fast and easy prompts. A sample flip of the cards shows prompts such as having anyone with a beard taking a drink, anyone owning an Apple product, or anyone who’s kissed one of the other current players.
Craig Bridger, who works with The Dalmore as its director of malt specialists, West, and head of education, recommends Gloomhaven. “My friends and I, who normally meet regularly in person to play, love a game called Gloomhaven,” he says. “We found it on Tabletop Simulator and have been playing it there.” He’s more of a whisky sipper while playing as opposed to a drinking game participant, though that works for a game that’s more marathon than sprint. “It’s a bit tedious but still fun,” Bridger says. “Also, fair warning: The nerd level is high with that game.”
Heads Up! is the classic game in which you’re holding a card to your forehead, and another player has to help you guess what it says. There’s a free version with four different decks included with Houseparty, and additional premium options available. If there are numerous people or teams playing together, consider the spectators assigning drinks to either the clue giver, or the guesser, of a losing round.
Freelance journalist G. Clay Whittaker recently tried his hand at hosting Hollywood Squares on Zoom. “Zoom grids look a lot like the classic Hollywood Squares board,” he says. “As long as you’ve got enough friends for a full game, all you need to do is add trivia questions and you’ve got a couple hours of fun.” This is a game that requires a fair number of people, ideally 12, including the host. Refresh yourself on the rules of Hollywood Squares, and use something such as Quizlet for the trivia questions.
Kings is the O.G. of drinking games, and several different platforms have web-based versions, including the aforementioned DrinkVirtually.com. The specific rules for each card have been the stuff of Solo Cup-fueled debates for decades, though you’ll remember some of the classics such as: Categories, Rhymes, Rules, Question Master, and so forth.
Never Have I Ever
Never Have I Ever is one of the easiest drinking games to play online, since it doesn’t require any cards or equipment. Just load up your virtual hangout and get started. There are numerous lists of questions online, though everyone knows the real fun is embarrassing your friend with a question you know he’ll have to raise his hand and drink for, allowing you to share that one-time secret with the rest of your friends.
Paul Hletko, the founder of FEW Spirits, often turned to online poker to help pass the days during the Covid-19 quarantine. Even better, he’s putting the game to use. “All of the buy-ins are donated to feed restaurant staff,” he says. Cheers to that. To make it an official drinking game, have each hand’s winner assign a drink; it could be to everyone who folded, or to someone she felt was bluffing, for instance. Use your favorite poker service or a simple web-based platform such as DonkHouse.com.
Who needs a silly thing like a “rule,” or a “game,” or a “reason” to drink? Just play Power Hour, where you have to take one sip of your drink every minute for a full hour. It’s one of the game interfaces available on DrinkVirtually.com, with features such as automatic timers, minute-by-the-minute gongs, and randomly assigned bonus drinks. Plus, it’s one of the few online drinking games for 2.
Quick Draw is another of the free games available via HouseParty. It’s basically a virtual Pictionary that has you drawing on your phone. Whoever guesses correctly can assign drinks for each round to the other players, or if nobody guesses correctly, the artist can assign drinks instead.
Settlers Of Catan
Settlers of Catan is the preferred drinking game of Joseph Mintz, the co-founder of Siponey canned cocktails. “We play on Steam, which is an online gaming service for PC and Macs,” he says. An online version of the game can also be loaded on CatanUniverse.com. “We either have a conference call going or just have a group text on the side,” Mintz says. “For those familiar with the game, he suggests a few specific drinking rules. “Anytime the robber is placed on your hex you have to drink,” he says. “Anytime you build a settlement or a city, you have to drink. And anytime you use a development card you have to drink.”
Taboo is another classic group card game, with each card having a word or phrase that must be guessed, and a set of forbidden words that the clue giver can’t use to help. All users can pull up the interface and just take turns as the clue giver. Drinks can be doled out when teams don’t guess correctly, when the clue giver messes up and mentions a taboo word, and when one team has enough points to win the game.
Ticket To Ride
Hletko also played Ticket to Ride during quarantine, though he warns against its addictive nature and its strong potential to ruin your productivity goals for the day. “I’ve been playing Ticket To Ride online, and drinking every time the stupid commuter stupidly takes the last route available,” he says. “It’s a card strategy game where you try to build railroads connecting various cities, and there are only certain paths you can optimally take. Of course, the computer players always take your last route.”
“My trivia group gets together every Wednesday night on Zoom to play on Jackbox games,” says Christina Mercado, beverage manager at The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection, in Newport, R.I. “You can share the screen on Zoom and everyone can see it on their computer, then your cell phone becomes the controller. So it feels like you’re all in the same room playing together.” There are plenty of free trivia options available, such as the Random Trivia Generator, and one on Houseparty as well.
Words With Friends
When you want a quick online drinking game without logging onto a virtual hangout, just play Words With Friends with your favorite partner. Lowest scoring word for a block of, say, five turns or five minutes has to drink, or a player hitting on a coveted triple word score or another high bonus can make the other player drink.
All Bad Cards
All Bad Cards is a free and hysterically irreverent online card game that can easily be made into a drinking game. After all players submit one of the cards from their randomized set that they believe will be the funniest answer to the given prompt, the designated card queen chooses the winner. To make it a drinking game, the card queen can also choose the loser(s) and have them drink.
Higher or Lower
Higher or Lower is an old fashioned card game that can intensify quickly. For the online version available at DrinkVirtually.com, all players have to do is guess if the next card shown will be lower or higher than the last. Players get to control their own stakes, meaning they decide how many drinks they’re willing to take if they guess wrong.