Liquor Trivia: Fun Trivia about Distilled Spirits (Whiskey, Rum, Vodka, Gin, Tequila, Bourbon, Rye, Etc.)

Liquor trivia is fun!

Liquor trivia is about distilled spirits. That’s whiskey, vodka, tequila, rum, gin, rye, bourbon Scotch, and other spirit liquors.

Discover liquor trivia about your favorite drinks. Then share the fun with your friends.

Liquor Trivia

  • Bourbon is the official distilled spirit of the United States.1
  • A martini becomes a Gibson simply by adding a miniature onion to it.2
  • A martini made with tequila instead of dry gin is a tequini.3
  • “Whiskey” is used to represent the letter “w” in the international aviation commaity.4
  • The actual alcohol content of a standard can of beer, glass of dinner wine, or distilled spirit is virtually identical. A breathalyzer can’t tell them apart.5
  • Distilled spirits don’t contain any cholesterol, carbohydrates, or fats of any kind.6
  • Whiskey and whisky are both grain products. Whiskey is the usual American spelling, especially for beverages distilled in the U.S. and Ireland. Whisky is the spelling for Canadian and Scotch distilled beverages.7
  • When first made, distilled spirits are completely clear with no color. They get their colors and hues from the aging process in oak barrels.8

         No worm

  • It’s a myth that there’s a worm in tequila. The so-called worm is in  mezcal, which is distilled from a different plant. The “worm” is actually a butterfly caterpillar (Hipopta Agavis).9
  • Rye is distilled from corn, barley malt, and at least 51% rye. It  was the first uniquely American whiskey.10liquot trivia
  • Gin is spirit alcohol with juniper berry flavor. The Dutch first made it. They named  junever, their word for juniper. The French changed it to genievre. In turn, the English changed it first to geneva” and then shortened it to gin.11
  • Sloe gin isn’t gin at all but a liqueur. It’s blackthorn bush berries (sloe berries) liqueur.12
  • Vodka is Russian for grain spirits that haven’t been flavored. It means “little water.”13
  • The word brandy comes from brandewijn. It means burnt (or distilled) wine in Dutch.14
  • Cordials and liqueurs are the same thing. They’e both sweetened spirits with flavors of organic products such as fruits, flowers, or roots.15
  • About 25% of all alcohol that people consume around the world are vodka or contain vodka.16

         That’s Strong!

  • The strongest that any alcohol beverage can be is about 190 proof. That’s about 95% alcohol. At higher proof, the alcohol draws moisture from the air and self-dilutes.17
  • Whiskey, brandy or rum can either aged not enough or too long.18
  • Scotch whisky has a unique smoky flavor. Peat fires used to dry malted barley gives that distinctive character.19
  • The ingredients in a well-stocked bar can make 17,864,392,788 different cocktails. That’s according to H.L. Mencken, the famous journalist.20
  • The martini originally began as a sweet drink.21
    liquor trivia

    Mint Julep

  • The mint julep was at one time a popular everyday drink. It was the “Coca-Cola of its time.”22
  • The size of the grain used to produce a whiskey largely determines its body or lightness. Larger grains make lighter whiskey and vice versa. Rye, which is small, makes a whiskey with full body. One made from corn, which is large, makes a lighter whiskey.23

Spelling Fun! The letters in ‘increase alcohol taxes’ can spell ‘Alert: Halt excess excise taxes on alcohol.’24

  • Heavy taxes more than double the price of a typical bottle of whiskey, rum or other distilled spirits beverage. That encourages the production of dangerous bootleg alcohol.25
  • A distiller commissioned Louis Pasteur to the process of fermentation. This led to enormous scientific advances.26liquor trivia
  • Martha Washington’s “happy hour” in the 1790s began at 3:00 p.m. Cocktails continued until dinner in the evening.27
  • President Lincoln learned that General Grant drank whiskey while “on the job” leading his troops. Lincoln  reportedly ordered “Find out the name of the brand so I can give it to my other generals.”28
  • Winston Churchill’s mother created the Manhattan cocktail..2liquor trivia
  • The melody of “Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the US, is from a drinking song.30
  • People cleaned their hair with rum to maintain its health. They also applied brandy to their hair during the 1800s to strengthen its roots.31
  • Methyphobia is fear of alcohol.32
  • The term “brand name” came from American distillers. They branded their names and logos on kegs before shipping them.33
  • This is a short sentence containing all the letter of the English alphabet. “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.”34  By the way, if you’ve read this far you must really like liquor trivia!

         White Lightning

White lightning is a name for illegally distilled spirits. Moonshiners skip the aging process to reduce risk of arrest. Thus, the color of the product remains clear.35

  • liquor trivia.Moonshining is profitable because the taxes on legally produced spirits are so high. The federal government gets 14 times more in taxes on distilled spirits than producers earn making them. That does not include what states and localities additionally take in taxes on the same products.36
  • “I like a little bourbon” reported former President Jimmy Carter’s mother. She was Christian. But she said she was not a ‘long-faced square.’37
  • Temperance supporters strongly opposed drinking alcohol. But they, like most others, regularly took patent medicines.  But that “medicine,” just like whiskey, generally contained 40% alcohol!38
  • The word “liquor” is illegal on storefronts in some states in the U.S. This includes liquor stores!39
  • William Shakespeare referred to a game called “flap-dragon.” Players grabbed raisins from a dish of burning brandy. Then extinguished them in their mouths before eating them.40
  • The letters in “whiskey” can spell “key wish.” Those in “spirits” can spell “sip it sir.” And those in “moonshine” can spell “in no homes.”41
  • Gin is a mild diuretic which helps the body get rid of excessive fluid. Thus, for example it is sometimes can reduce problems such as menstrual bloating. (This isn’t medical advice).42
  • liquor triviaTheodor Geisel (Dr. Seus) was drinking gin with friends while a student at Dartmouth College. He received severe punishment. But many years later the college awarded him an honorary doctorate.43

          Favorite Cocktails

  • The favorite cocktails of several former Presidents are include these.
    • Scotch and soda (Lyndon Johnson)
    • Rum and coke (Richard Nixon)
    • Gin and tonic (Gerald Ford)
    • Bourbon (Harry Truman)
    • Martini (Herbert Hoover)
    • Scotch or brandy (Franklin Roosevelt)44
  • Before he became president, Abraham Lincoln sold liquor trivialiquor. His 1833 liquor store license is displayed at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History.45
  • State law in Indiana prohibits liquor stores from selling cold soft drinks. Yet it’s legal for them to sell unrefrigerated soft drinks.46
  • A Baptist minister first made Bourbon in 1789 in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Bourbon took the name of the county, not vice versa.47
  • It’s illegal to send a gift of any alcoholic beverage to anyone anywhere in Kentucky. The penalty can include imprisonment for up to five years.That includes a bottle of Bourbon!48liquor trivia
  • George Washington was his country’s first large distiller. In 1798, his distillery at Mount Vernon produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey.4
  • The state liquor authority told Michael O’Neil  that he was in violation of the law after he opened O’Neil’s Saloon. It is illegal for him to use the word “saloon” on his saloon. He promptly complied with the law. He simply changed the “S” into a “B,” making it O’Neil’s Baloon.50

         Water of Life

  •  Distillation emerged during the Middle Ages. The alcohol produced was aqua vitae or “water of life.”51
  • All treaty signings during the Middle Ages included drinking liqueurs.52  You wanted liquor trivia!
  • Early Colonial New England’s largest and most prosperous industry was producing rum.53
  • The taxation of whiskey caused the first test of federal power over states and individuals. It was the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.54
  • The laws of most American colonies required towns to license individuals to sell wine and spirits.  Failure to do so could result in a fine.55
  • liquor triviaGeorge Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all  made some of their own alcoholic beverages.56
  • Each member of the  American Colonial Army received a daily ration of four ounces of either rum or whiskey.57
  • The average US adult 15 or older drank 9 1/2 gallons of spirits per year during the 1830s. That included both men and women.58
  • Paul Revere had two drinks of rum before taking his famous ride.59
  • “Bathtub gin” was common during Prohibition (1920-1933). Bootleggers mixed alcohol, glycerine and juniper juice in bottles or jugs. It was hard to fill them in a sink. So people commonly filled them under a faucet in a bathtub. Hence, it was bathtub gin.60
  • The United States Pharmacopoeia lists alcohol as medicinal.61

Trivial Note on Liquor Trivia

Trivia is the plural of the Latin trivium. More than one liquor trivium are liquor trivia. So, “A martini made with tequila instead of dry gin is a tequini”  is a liquor trivium. But this collection is liquor trivia. So, should it be “Liquor trivia is fun!”? Or should it be “Liquor trivia are fun!”?

Books for Liquor Trivia Fans

U.S. Distilled Spirits Calendar

February 22 – National Margarita Day.

June 14 – National Bourbon Day.

July 10 – National Pina Colada Day.

July 11 – National Mojito Day.

”  19 – National Daiquiri Day.

August 16 – National Rum Day.

August 25 – National Whiskey Sour Day.

October 7 – National Frappé Day.

October 16 – National Liqueur Day.

November 8 – National Harvey Wallbanger Day.

December 5 – National Repeal Day.

December 24 – National Eggnog Day.

Brunning, A. Why Does Asparagus Make Your Pee Smell? Fascinating Food Trivia Explained with Science. Berkeley: Ulysses, 2016.

Federle,T. Gone with the Gin. Cocktails with a Hollywood Twist. Philadelphia: Running, 2015.

Fraioli, J. and Marianella, V. The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Martinis. NY: Alpha, 2008. (Good liquor trivia.)

Francis, W. and Marsh, S. Cocktails of the Movies. An Illustrated Guide to Cinematic Mixology. Munich: Prestel, 2015.


1  Defining ‘Bourbon.’ The State (SC), 5-1-02, p. D1.

2  Mr. Boston Deluxe Bartender’s Guide. NY: Warner, 1983, p. 174.

3  Mr. Boston Deluxe Bartender’s Guide., id.

4  Talk Like a Pilot. Syracuse, NY: Hancock Inter Airport, n.d., p. 1.

5  See Alcohol Equivalence

6  Calories, Carbs & Fat in Popular Beverages

7  Roueche, B. The Neutral Spirit. Boston: Little, Brown, 1960, p. 84.

8  Limon, E. Tequila. NY: Abbeville Press, 1009, p. 34.

9  Limon, p. 34.

10  Roueche, B. Alcohol in Human Culture. In: Lucia, S.P. (Ed.) Alcohol and Civilization. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1963. Pp. 167-182.

11  Old Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartender’s Guide. NY: Warner, 1979, pp. 186- 187.

12  Roueche, 1963, pp. 167-182.

13  Seward, D. Monks and Wine. London: Mitchell Beazley, 1979, p. 151.

14  Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartender’s Guide. NY: Warner, 1981, p. 185.

15  Conrad, B. The Martini. San Francisco: Chronicle, 1995, p. 126.


17  Mingo, J., and Barrett, E. Just Curious, Jeeves. Emeryville, CA: Ask Jeeves, 2000, p. 269.

18  Avis, H. Drugs & Life. Boston: WCB McGraw-Hill, 1999, p. 74.

19  Grimes, W. Straight Up or on the Rocks. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1993, p. 16.

20  Grimes, p. 28.

21  Grimes, p. 41.

22.  Zraly, K. Windows on the World Complete Wine Course. NY: Dell, 1987, p. 20.

23  Ford, G. Ford’s ABCs of Wines, Brews, & Spirits. Seattle: Ford, 1996, p. 146.

24  The fact is self-evident.

25  Moonshine is Risky

26  Williams, G. The Age of Miracles. Chicago: Academy, 1987.

27  Haught, R.L. Distilling the truth about George. Oklahoman, 2-20-03.



30  Mingo and Barrett, p. 265.

Still More


32  methyphobia


34  This fact is self-evident.


36   Lopex, M. Demonizing the alcohol industry. Organ Trends, 1999, 1, 3-5.

37  Elliott, P. 100 Proof. NY: Penguin, 2000, p. 4.

38  Elliott, p. 16.

39  Spencer, D. To See or Not to See: Brown Baggin’. The Hill, June 20, 2001.


41   These facts are self-evident.

42  Van Strated, M. The Benefits of Booze. The Express (London), July 23, 2002, Features, p. 35.


44  The spirit of Washington. Elk Grove Citizen, 2-19-03.  Presidential Vehicles

45  Museum details history of bourbon. Post-Gazette, April 23, 2007.

46  Chap. 10, Liquor Dealer Permits. IC 7.1-3-10-5, Sec. 5.

47  Grimes, pp. 52-53.

48  Mead, Wine Trader. Q(6).

49  Head, T. First in war, first in peace, first in whiskey: George Washington as distiller. Southern Folkways Alliance, June 14, 2005..

50  Barr, A. Drink. NY: Carroll & Graf, 1999, p. 381.

51  Doxat, J. The World of Drinks and Drinking. NY: Drake, 1971, p. 80.

52  Ford, G. Wines, Brews, & Spirits. Seattle: Ford, 1996, p. 116.

53  Roueche, B. Alcohol in Human Culture. In: Lucia, S.P. (Ed.) Alcohol and Civilization. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1963 pp. 167-182.

54  Grimes, pp. 51-52.

55  Prendergast, M. A History of Alcohol Problem Prevention Efforts in the United States. In: Holder, H. (Ed.) Control Issues in Alcohol Abuse Prevention. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1987. Pp. 25-52.

56  Lender, M. and Martin, J. Drinking in America. NY: Free Press, 1982, p. 6.

57  Lender and Martin, p. 6.


59  Burns, E. The Spirit of America. Philadelphia: Temple U Press, 2004, p. 27.

60  Lender and Martin, 1982.

61   United States Pharmacopeia. Rockville, MD: U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, 1995.

Most liquor trivia on this page is from original sources.