The earliest known drinking game was called Kottabos. It’s from ancient Greece and was played around the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Players would use “dregs” (the remnants of a liquid left in a container, together with any sediment or grounds) to hit targets across the room with their wine. Often, there were special prizes and penalties for one’s performance in the game.
The object of the player was to cast a portion of wine left in his drinking cup, in such a way that it doesn’t break bulk in its passage through the air, towards a bronze “lamp stand” with a tiny statuette on top with outstretched arms delicately holding a small disc called a plastinx. Halfway down the stand was a larger disc called the manes. To be successful the player had to knock off the plastinx in such a way that it would fall to the manes and make a bell like sound. Both the wine thrown and the noise made were called latax (λάταξ). The thrower, in the ordinary form of the game, was expected to retain the recumbent position that was usual at table, and, in flinging the cottabus, to make use of his right hand only.
Kottabos (Ancient Greek: κότταβος) was a game of skill played at ancient Greek and Etruscan symposia (drinking parties), especially in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The game is played by flinging wine lees at targets. The player would utter the name of the object of his affection.
To succeed in the aim of the game dexterity was required, and unusual ability in the game was rated as high as corresponding excellence in throwing the javelin. Not only was the cottabus the ordinary accompaniment of the festal assembly, but, a special building of a circular form was sometimes erected so that the players might be easily arranged round the basin, and follow each other in rapid succession. Like all games in which the element of chance found a place, it was regarded as more or less ominous of the future success of the players, especially in matters of love – and the excitement was sometimes further augmented by some object of value being staked on the event.
Other Ancient Drinking Games
Drinking games were enjoyed in ancient China, usually incorporating the use of dice or verbal exchange of riddles. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Chinese used a silver canister where written lots could be drawn that designated which player had to drink and specifically how much; for example, from different measures of drink that the youngest player, or the last player to join the game, or the most talkative player, or the host, or the player with the greatest alcohol tolerance, etc. had to drink. There were even drinking game referee officials, including a ‘registrar of the rules’ who knew all the rules to the game, a ‘registrar of the horn’ who tossed a silver flag down on calling out second offenses, and a ‘governor’ who decided one’s third call of offense. These referees were used mainly for maintaining order (as drinking games often became rowdy) and for reviewing faults that could be punished with a player drinking a penalty cup. If a guest was considered a ‘coward’ for dropping out of the game, he could be branded as a ‘deserter’ and not invited back to further drinking bouts. There was another game where little puppets and dolls dressed as western foreigners with blue eyes (Iranian peoples) were set up and when one fell over, the person it pointed to had to empty his cup of wine.
Beer Pong Origins
Said to be invented at Dartmouth College, Beer Pong was supposedly first played in the 1950’s.