11 Famous Heavy Drinkers In History & Their Favorite Drinks

People & Personalities

Famous Heavy Drinkers In History

Many people, including famous people, have enjoyed alcoholic drinks. Whether it's because they feel carefree, uninhibited, or relaxed after drinking alcohol all day longthere isn't any doubt that many people drank more than their fair share!

Who knew that certain famous people who drink a lot of alcohol could be so interesting? In this post, we'll share our list of the most popular heavy drinkers throughout history. Keep on reading!

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Most Notable Heavy Drinkers

1. Winston Churchill

A photo of Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill (November 30, 1874 – January 24, 1965) was a British prime minister famous for never surrendering and inspiring Britain and half the world to defeat Hitler while on a liquor diet. He was very particular at what he drank, and every occasion had a precise alcohol accompaniment.

Churchill likes his martinis dry. Allegedly, instead of placing vermouth with his gin, he would nod in the direction of France in respect of its absence.

He would often wake up early and work for a few hours from bedusually with a whiskey soda in hand. Then in the afternoon, he would join his family for a three-course lunch served with Champagne, ports, and brandy.

After another whiskey soda, he would take a nap, then prepare for a full dinner plus several more drinks.

Winston Churchill's routine rarely changed and helped him steer Britain through the worst of World War II, making him the most productive drunkard in history.

Winston Churchill's Favorite Liquors

  • Champagne

Champagne is one of Churchill's staple beverages, and he confessed to having drunk about 42,000 bottles during his lifetime. He claims it was one of the life essentials: We live very simply, but with all the essentials of a life well understood and provided forhot baths, cold Champagne, new peas, and old brandy.

Winston Churchill's favorite was Pol Roger, and he has acknowledged his loyalty to their brand that the company created a Churchill bottle that you can still purchase to this day.

  • Whiskey

Churchill acquired a taste for whiskey in the late 19th century in his trip to India. He stated that water was not fit to drink for him, and to make it palatable—he had to add whiskey and learned to like it.

Since then, he rarely went without his Churchill mouthwash made by coating the bottom of a glass with Johnnie Walker Red and then filling it with soda. 

Winston Churchill gets upset every time someone makes his whiskey too strong as he prefers it relatively weak.

  • Brandy

Winston seldom went with no after-dinner brandy. Some of his favorites were Hine, Prunier, l'Hertier de Jean Fremi-court, and he also drank some Armenian Ararat courtesy of Stalin.

  • Martini

In the early 20th century, vermouth was looked on with suspicion and even disdain by some members of society. When Churchill was asked how much vermouth he wanted in his cocktail, the prime minister just replied that he'd like to observe it (vermouth) from across the room while sipping on a martini.

  • Claret and Port

Churchill's drinking also included claret and soda (Chateau de Bellevue and Vina Pomal), sherry (Delgado Zuleta or Lustau), and port (Graham's).

2. Ernest Hemingway

A photo of Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961is a literary legend that is a testament to drinking. He ate drunk, loved drunk, hunted drunk, and even wrote drunk. 

Drinking was the secret to Hemingway's success that has published many works of classic fiction until today.

Ernest Hemingway drank heavily to escape the pain he experienced due to multiple severe injuries in World War 2. He once declared that "a man does not exist until he is drunk."

He occasionally betrayed his alcoholic bona fides by drinking insane, heroic quantities and leaving a trail of smashed highballs and friendships in his wake. However, booze was more crucially an existential salve for Hemingway, a much-needed release after a grueling day of defending the Queens English.

Hemingway's favorite real-life tipple was a simple scotch and soda.

Ernest Hemingway's Favorite Cocktails

  • Hemingway Daiquiri

While the basic Daiquiri might be more classic, the Hemingway Daiquiri is certainly more storied. The Hemingway Daiquiri forgoes the sugar of the original (as Hemingway had diabetes) and sets itself apart with grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur.

  • Death in the Afternoon

This cocktail was invented by Ernest himself, sharing a name with the author's classic treatise on bullfighting. The Death in the Afternoon is easy-to-make, effervescent, and potent. Drink too many of these during the day, and you might not make it to the evening.

  • Mojito

The Mojito is one of the most renowned rum cocktails in the world. It is simple to make and a delightfully refreshing drink. With a crisp, sweet, citrusy, and minty flavor, the Mojito cocktail is a classic for a reason.

The Mojito was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway-though not as much as the Daiquiri. 

  • Gibson

This liquor appeared in Hemingway's numerous novels, including Across the River Into the Trees and A Farewell to Arms.

Ernest described his love for this drink, particularly his garnish of choice - Spanish cocktail onions, which technically makes his go-to preparation a martini cocktail, served extremely chilled, like the ice and drinkware. 

  • White Lady

Hemingway sometimes forewent the machismo-laden drinks for an elegant cocktail with a touch less bravado, like the White Lady. No slouch itself, this cocktail of gin, Cointreau, and lemon juice would have satisfied Hemingway's desire for a dry, citrusy drink not too far off from his beloved Daiquiri.

  • Bloody Mary

As in all his drinking moments, Ernest goes overboard on Bloodies.  He liked his with quality Russian vodka, chilled tomato juice, Worcestershire (or steak sauce), lime juice, celery salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. 

For mixing instructions, he suggested stirring it all in a pitcher, and "if you get it too potent, dilute with more tomato juice,e. If it lacks power, add more vodka."

  • Scotch and Soda

Hemingway's boozy antics is a simple Scotch and Soda over all other drinks. This two-ingredient alcohol drink is straightforward and honest as Hemingways writing style and the quickest way to unwind after a long day over a hot typewriter.

3. Frank Sinatra

A portrait of Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) is an American singer and movie star and was recognized as the man who was rarely drunk and never suffered from a hangover, taking only a sip or two from each drink while everyone around him got smashed.

Unlike other famous alcoholics, Sinatra was capable of cutting back on liquor when preparing for an extensive tour or residency, getting more sleep, and–a favorite trick–doing lots of underwater swimming to aid his breathing and vocal control.

His drinking meant trouble sometimes as he had moments wherein he was violent and having fist-fights with journalists or taking out his temper on TV sets or telephones.

Frank Sinatra's Go-To Liquors

  • Jack Daniels

Frank Sinatra's liquor of choice was Jack Daniels. Sinatra preferred sipping whiskey with a little bit of water, and some ice.

If you're feeling fancy, you can make it with Sinatra Select, a premium version of Jack Daniel's.

  • Martini on the Rocks

While Jack Daniel's was his drink of choice, Sinatra also reportedly enjoyed martinis. Beefeater gin with a shadow of vermouth served on the rocks with a twist of lemon. The bartenders made sure his glass was filled with ice.

  • Rusty Nail

The Rusty Nail was another favorite Rat Pack drink. The sophisticated, smoky cocktail combines scotch with Drambuie, a liqueur made from scotch, honey, herbs, and spices.

4. Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. ThompsonHunter S. Thompson - Image by dazeddigital.com

Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) was an American journalist and author, famous for his novel "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as well as his counter-culture books about politics and drugs. His unique writing style is what made him a legend along with his works of fiction such as "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72."

Thompson became one of the famous alcoholics and was notorious for his Wild Turkey. He was also known for refusing to sit down with interviewers until they first downed a glass of his go-to bourbon.

Hunter Thompson's Drinking Habits

  • Wild Turkey

Thompson loved his margaritas and beer, but whiskey will always be adamantly connected to him. Additionally, Wild Turkey, a Kentucky bourbon, was the one kind of whiskey he swore for over a decade.

  • Whiskey

Chivas Regal became Thompson's drink of choice in his later year when he lost his taste for his Wild Turkey in his 20s and 30s. He consumed multiple glasses of Chival Regal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between.

Thompson takes a snow cone doused in four jiggers of whiskey for dessert. He would finish his massive lunch with a snow cone for the ride home, a term he used for his favorite drink, which was described as "a glass of shredded ice over which is poured three or four jig­gers of Chivas."

  • Margarita and Heineken

Thompson knew a thing or two about decadent dining. A journalist describes his typical dinner: "Heineken, two margaritas, coleslaw, a taco salad, a double order of fried onion rings, carrot cake, ice cream, a bean fritter, Dunhills, another Heineken, cocaine."

  • Chartreuse and Gin

For Thompsons late-night drug, he would drink green-colored liqueur, add just the right touch of class, and indulge himself between midnight and 6 am. At night, whenever he finishes his writing, he likes some nice English gin, cigarettes, and coke.

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5. Andre The Giant

Andre the Giant posing Andre the Giant posing - Image by splingmovies.com

André René Roussimoff (May 19, 1946 – January 27, 1993), popularly known as Andre the Giant, consumed 7,000 calories of alcohol a day. No one in the historical records could drink as much as him. The pro wrestlerwho stood seven-footers and weighed over 500 poundsroutinely shocked friends and spectators with his insane tolerance for alcohol.

Andre rarely drank enough to pass out. Although he was known for his fantastic beer-drinking, André drank everything that contained alcohol. 

Andre the Giant's Drinking Records

  • Beer

Andre once downed 119 12-ounce beers in less than six hours. To put it another way, that's the equivalent of downing a 12-ounce drink every three minutes, nonstop, for six hours.

After the marathon drinking binge, Andre passed out in a hotel lobby and couldn't be moved or roused. His buddies had to resort to covering him in a piano cover and allowing him to sleep through the night.

  • Vodka

According to Andre's wrestling teammate Ric Flair, Andre reportedly drank the whole stock of vodka on a plane while on a trip to Japan. Of course, he had some assistance due to his drunken rage, Flair himself. On ESPN's Dan Le Batard Show, he claimed, "I've been on a jet, on a 747 with him heading to Tokyo out of Chicago." "On the plane, we drank every bottle of vodka."

  • Wine

Flair isn't the only pro wrestler who has heard tales of the Giant. Hulk Hogan, who frequently traveled with Andre, told his own story about Andre's drinking prowess while on a trip to Japan on CBS Boston's Toucher & Rich. 

"I walked down the street to this small karaoke bar and purchased a case of Pouilly-Fuissé wine—12 bottles of this extremely potent, powerful, strong white French wine," Hogan explained. 

"We left the hotel at 8:00 am for eight-hour bus travel; about three hours later, he shakes his seat and says, 'Boss. Boss. I need a pit stop.' He drank 12 bottles of wine in three hours on a bus."

Other Famous People Who Drank Heavily

6. Vincent Van Gogh

A image of Vincent Van Gogh

One of the factors that undoubtedly afflicted Vincent Van Gogh’s life (March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890) even more than his physical ailments is alcohol.

Many people believed that he suffered from an absinthe alcoholic condition. Still, there’s no way to know for sure since he never admitted any problem with drinking himself into oblivion and painting some of history’s most stunning pieces while blackout drunk–including “The Starry Night.”

Vincent Van Gogh’s life is a cautionary tale about the dangers of mental health problems. His addiction to coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol caused him great hardship that ultimately led to his death at age 37.

There’s no denying that the excessive amounts of absinthe consumed by Van Gogh had an influence on his work. The Dutchman was believed to have an incredible memory, recalling everything he had ever read or seen.

After sobering up, it’s reasonable to assume that his encounters with the green fairy were not forgotten. 

The faint green color of absinthe was used by Vincent in many of these paintings. He also created several paintings depicting his favorite pub or himself drinking the green liquor.

7. Stephen King

An image of Stephen KingAn image of Stephen King - Image by Mashable

The phenomenal writer of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy made his fans astonished by his abilities. Stephen King (born September 21, 1947) has made a name for himself. Despite his successful career, he also encountered his own obstacles in life–including alcoholism.

Stephen King knew about his drinking problem in his early twenties. He developed a drinking pattern even into parenthood and admitted that it piqued anger and violence within him.

King eventually dabbled with other substances, including cigarettes and cocaine. It wasn’t until his wife staged an intervention by collecting all of his belongings and dumping them in front of him, his friends, and his family that he was able to recover. The intervention was a huge success, and King began his journey to sobriety.

He has always been quite scared miserable, and suffered from various phobias throughout his life. He believed he could escape from his fears through writing and drinking. 

He loved drinking alone and bore himself with boring conversations. When he decides to drink with someone, it will always be with his editor.

King likes to write when he’s drunk and never had any particular problem writing that way. However, he never wrote anything worth a dime while under the influence of any alcohol or other substance.

8. Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great (July 356 BC – June 323 BC) is one of the greatest generals of all time.

In a decade, he transformed himself from Prince of Macedonia into the ruler of an empire that stretched from Greece to India. 

Alexander drank in conquered palaces and army camps all across Europe and Asia, generally reclining on a couch, garlanded in leaves, perfumed with oil, and tended to by servants of various genders.

One day, he experienced severe back discomfort after drinking an entire amphora of undiluted wine, typically called “Cup of Heracles,” which is more than 5 liters of pure wine. 

Alexander attended a symposium at Medes and became intoxicated in an attempt to quench his tormented thirst after a day of forced rest and a bath in cold water to better endure the fever that had taken over in the meantime. 

Despite his rising temperature, he managed to carry out his royal duties during the next few days. On the 24th of the month of Desio (about 9 June in the Macedonian calendar), his illness worsened, and he became bedridden. 

He lost his ability to talk and then his consciousness the next day, till the 28th of Desio when he died in the evening.

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9. Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy as SpockLeonard Nimoy as Spock - Image by New York Times

The Star Trek actor was secretive about this alcoholism. Leonard Nimoy (March 26, 1931 – February 27, 2015) died at the age of 83 from chronic lung disease.

Leonard started drinking heavily during the second series of Star Trek. He would enjoy drinking a glass of wine or two after filming, but eventually, the ritual became too intense that it took over his whole personality.

A secretary was always on standby, bringing him drinks in a paper cup when he directed. His routine was hidden from the cast, not affecting his work. 

On his days off, he drinks excessively—he’d open a beer at 11 am and steadily drink until he passes out around 4 pm. He would not regain consciousness until the next day, when he would start drinking again.

10. Elizabeth Taylor

a photo of Elizabeth Taylor posinga photo of Elizabeth Taylor posing - Image by allvipp.com

Elizabeth Taylor (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) is one of the world’s great beauties. She is an iconic actress, AIDS advocate, Dame of the British Empire, and was married eight times to seven husbandstwice to Richard Burton.

She drank in Moxons in Jamaica, the Dorchester, the Ritz, the Bel Air Hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel, Chateau Marmont, the Sands in Vegas, and pretty much everywhere in her glorious years. Later in life, she was also a fan of gay bars, notably, The Abbey.

Her tastes in alcohol were as Catholic as her tastes in food, though champagne was a consistent favorite. 

Elizabeth created the Chocolate Martini cocktail with friend Rock Hudson when they were filming Giant in Texas during the 50s.

She always drank tequila shots with beer chasers when she was in Mexico. Her relationship with Richard Burton was cognac in the morning, vodka and tonic in the afternoon, and scotch and vodka at night.

11. Boris Yeltsin

Image of Boris YeltsinImage of Boris Yeltsin - Image by Liden & Denz

Boris Yeltsin (February 1, 1931 – April 23, 2007) rose through the challenging environment of Soviet politics to become the man responsible for what Russia is today, from standing atop a tank to face down an attempted coup to authorizing the brutal war in Chechnya.

Like many Russians of his generation, Yeltsin considered beer a soft drink, favoring instead vodka, bourbon, and red wine, which he believed protected Russian submariners from radiation.

When he was at a diplomatic event in Vancouver, Yeltsin began with wine at lunch, consumed three whiskies on a boat in the afternoon, then abstained food over dinner with glasses of wine, downed in one. He concluded the evening by offering Bill Clinton bear hugs across the table.

Conclusion

If you're not a heavy drinker yourself, it may be hard to believe that people like Stephen King or Elizabeth Taylor drank so much alcohol. Whether they were writers, politicians, or scientists, there's no denying the fact that they loved their drinks and had fun drinking for hours on end.

Who knew that drinking could be so enjoyable? As you can see, there is no “type” of person who drinks heavily–it’s pretty varied. 

Which celebrity in this list surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments!

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  • gordon on

    l m surprised dean Martin is not on the list…..l understand quite often in denial but upon asking further he would list a series of drinks, but not wine. He seemingly appeared drunk on johnny Carson tonite show often.


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