From Italia ’90 to Britpop and the end of the Millennium, the 90s were a confident and boozy decade of change. Here are the best booze songs of the 90s with my guess of what they would have been drinking in the song. This list is put together in the form of a 90s mix tape – read on below and then listen here…
Track one: Cigarettes & Alcohol – Oasis
“I was looking for some action but all I found was cigarettes and alcohol”
Kicking off the mix in style is perhaps the booziest band of the 90s with their T-Rex riffing anthem to the simple joys of drinking when you’re bored and jobless. Noel Gallagher was writing about unemployment in post Thatcher Britain but it is certainly something many of us can relate to whilst furloughed or redundant in lockdown.
What they were drinking: Studying the video and single cover there’s definitely bottles of champagne and beer, I’m going for Moet & Chandon champagne and bottles of Becks lager, both popular in the 90s.
Track two: Common People – Pulp
“And then dance and drink and screw because there’s nothing else to do”
Straight into another 90s classic, with Pulp’s iconic song about people from well off families pretending to be working class. Common People reaching number 2 in the charts in May 1995 (25 years ago!) is perhaps the peak of Britpop with the insightful lyrics, catchy tune and famous music video starring Sadie Frost it captured the zeitgeist of the time.
What they were drinking: In the song when the girl meets Jarvis and tells him her dad is loaded he says “in that case I’ll have a rum and Coca-Cola”. Rum and Coke was a common 90s drink and I’m going for Bacardi and full fat Coke.
Track Three: Bank Holiday – Blur
“Bank Holiday comes with a six pack of beer then it’s back to work A-G-A-I-N”
Completing the holy trinity of the biggest Britpop bands of the 90s is Blur. I could have gone with the iconic Parklife single (“John’s got brewer’s droop…”) or hangover song Badhead (there’s a future post there) but I went with the filling of this sandwich of boozy songs from the Parklife album. After 2 months of furlough I find it hard to remember the joys of a Brittish Bank Holiday but this song captures that spirit – a day at home with the family having a few drinks and if the weather’s good even a barbie (q).
What they were drinking: Lager. Definitely lots of lager. Whether it’s John down the fun pub or the six pack at home I’m going for Heineken lager.
Track Four: Tequila (Mint Royale Remix) – Terrorvision
“The curse of Tequila, it makes me happy, Con Tequila it feels fine”
The party is in full swing now and the shots are coming out. Terrorvision were very much a heavy rock band but found mainstream popularity and their biggest hit when Mint Royale remixed Tequila and Zoe Ball championed it on Radio 1. A fun, happy song that will make you smile.
What they were drinking: An easy one, they even mention the brand in the opening lyrics – Jose Cuervo tequila, I’m guessing the Especial Reposado.
Track Five: Gin & Juice – Snoop Dog
“Rolling down the street, smokin indo, sipping on gin and juice”
We couldn’t have a 90s Booze playlist without Snoop’s famous homage to gin which was released over 20 years before the gin craze of recent years. 2 years ago Snoop broke the world record for the largest paradise cocktail which contained an incredible 180 bottles of Hendricks gin!
What they were drinking: Another easy one as Snoop name checks Seagram’s, a popular American gin made with grain from Indiana and Tanqueray, a London dry gin now made in Scotland. For an authentic gin & juice I’m going for American Seagram’s gin with lime and grapefruit juice, delicious.
Track Six: Drinking in L.A. – Bran Van 3000
“And I’ll say, what the hell am I doing drinking in L.A. at twenty-six?”
Released 4 years after the previous song and very much a tribute, this is the sound of California youth in the late 90s where they are “blaring out the g-funk sipping on juice and gin”. A chilled out summer song to grab a beer or sip a gin (and juice) to.
What they were drinking: Other than the above gin and juice the song mentions beer in another Snoop reference (“with my mind on my money and my money on my beer”) and in the 90s its got to be a bottle of Bud.
Track Seven: A Design for Life – Manic Street Preachers
“We don’t talk about love we only want to get drunk”
Not a song about drinking as such but this lyric is the one that is most passionately shouted out by fans at Manics gigs and festivals. It’s a feeling most of us can relate to sometime in our lives.
What they were drinking: I’m going for Sminoff vodka, a nighties classic.
Track Eight: Tubthumping – Chumbawumba
“He drinks a whiskey drink, he drinks a vodka drink, he drinks a lager drink, he drinks a cider drink”
In terms of booze references alone this is the drinking song of the 90s. It’s become so popular that it’s spawned a drinking game called the Chumbawumba challenge. Simple and joyful this is a song of defiance and celebration.
What they were drinking: I wouldn’t recommend this for a combination but visitng a 90s pub I’d guess Famous Grouse for the whisky and Absolut Vodka (very popular brand at the time) for the vodka. 90s pubs didn’t have the choice of lager and cider you get today – the choice of lagers would have been along the likes of Carling, Carlsberg, Fosters, Beck’s, Grolsch, Stella and Kronenberg – I’m going for Carlsberg for this session. The cider would have been pretty much the only choice of cider in the pub – Strongbow on tap and in a pint glass and not served with ice.
Track Nine: Born Slippy (Nuxx) – Underworld
“Shouting lager lager lager lager”
A b-side and never released on an Underworld album this song became a monster and is one of the the defining songs of the 90s, thanks in part to being on the Trainspotting soundtrack.
What they were drinking: I’m guessing plastic pint glasses of Carling lager lager lager lager in a Romford nightclub.
Track Ten: Oasis – Champagne Supernova
“Someday you will find me caught beneath the landslide in a champagne supernova in the sky”
The last song of the night and everyone is arm and arm shouting about a champagne supernova in the sky, they have no idea what it means but it feels good all the same.
What they were drinking: We started off with Moet and we’re finishing with Veuve Clicquot, crate loads would have been drunk by 90s rock stars.
I hope you enjoyed my mix of the best booze songs of the 90s. What tunes did I miss? Let me know your favourite 90s booze songs in the comments below…