History overflows with heavy drinkers. What would happen if some of them went up against each other in an all-night drinking competition? Who would be the victor? That's for you to decide.
To make an educated judgment, it's important to get to know the stats and drinking styles of history's most notorious alcohol enthusiasts. Some were binge drinkers; some drank a little bit a lot of the time. In any case, all were well practiced in the art of holding their liquor, and alcohol had an impact on their life, celebrity, image, and work.
Like everything else in history, context is always important. Drinking cultures have changed dramatically over the last few dozen centuries, from the ancient Mediterranean - whose populations by and large drank alcohol like water - to the short-lived Prohibition of 1920s America. So some figures, such as Alexander the Great, came from cultures that measured a man's worth by his ability to drink, while others - i.e. Ulysses S. Grant and his bourgeois Victorian world - saw alcohol as a shameful dark demon to be wrestled with.
Choose your booze champion and vote up the historical figures you think would be the last man or woman standing at the end of a night of drinking.
Years Active: André the Giant was known to drink heavily when he was at the peak of his celebrity as a wrestler in the 1970s and 1980s.
How Much He Drank: André's legendary size was the result of gigantism - and one of the side effects was that he could drink a lot of alcohol without it significantly affecting him. Wrestling referee Tim White claimed that André drank wine "like most people drink ice water." He once downed "156 beers in one sitting."
His Legacy: Princess Bride co-star Cary Elwes believes André the Giant used alcohol to deal with the physical pain he was in following years of wear and tear on the wrestling circuit.
Signature Drink: He liked to drink "The American," a 40-ounce pitcher filled with a bunch of different liquors. And he wouldn't down just one "American," but several in one sitting.1,37539Is this the booze champion?
Years Active: Peter the Great of Russia knew how to hold his liquor. But after he developed a friendship with the Swiss officer Franz Lefort in the late 1680s and early 1690s, Peter's drinking increased. According to biographer Lindsey Hughes, Lefort was an enabler: He was responsible for "encouraging Peter to indulge in debauchery and excessive drinking." Peter remained a heavy drinker until his passing in 1725.
How Much He Drank: As estimated by vodka scholar Mark Lawrence Schrad, Peter started his day with "a pint of vodka" at breakfast and could consume up to 40 glasses of wine before bedtime.
His Legacy: Peter loved the social aspect of alcohol so much that he started a drinking club. Revelries lasted all day and night, and the club even created the "penalty shot" of vodka. Peter also understood the political power of vodka and gave the state a monopoly on the liquor.
Signature Drink: Though he frequently enjoyed vodka and wine, Peter actually discovered his favorite drink in England: brandy laced with peppers, a drink as steely and strong as the tsar himself.315143Is this the booze champion?
Years Active: Famed ballplayer George Herman Ruth - AKA "The Babe" - started drinking young. One story claims that Ruth, all of 7 years old in 1902, had been involved in a bar fight. The incident got him sent to reform school. Though he slowed his drinking for the sake of his health in the 1940s, he continued imbibing until his passing from cancer in 1948.
How Much He Drank: Everything about Babe Ruth was larger than life - including his drinking habits. He apparently drank so much that he developed a very high tolerance for alcohol. When a bartender tried to get him drunk before a game against the Chicago White Sox, the plan fizzled - the copious alcohol had no noticeable impact on Ruth, and his New York Yankees ended up winning the game.
Signature Drink: He never turned down a scotch.357171Is this the booze champion?
Years Active: Winston Churchill seems to have first cultivated his taste for alcohol while he was a young officer in India and South Africa. This means he took drinking seriously from the age of 22 in 1895.
How Much He Drank: Churchill's love of alcohol may have been overstated, but it's true that he enjoyed a stiff drink pretty regularly. He consumed alcohol throughout the day, from wine at breakfast to champagne with guests late into the night. Though Churchill imbibed frequently, he abhorred drunkenness and once said, "I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me."
His Legacy: Alcohol was a significant feature of Churchill's diplomacy. He liked to entertain fellow world leaders - including FDR and Stalin - and bonded with them over drinks, sometimes into the early morning hours. His drinking became a political liability only when Hitler's Germany began issuing propaganda that painted Churchill as a drunk.270125Is this the booze champion?