There’s an important question for an American university student in need of a break, after working hard all day during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. What’s the difference between American and Brazilian drinking games? In the interest of science, and because our program features students from Queens University of Charlotte and Mackenzie Presbyterian University of São Paulo, I volunteered to research the subject carefully.
To be totally honest, the differences are subtle. The universal point is to have fun together and to get players a little buzzed. The ones played in Rio de Janeiro are card games that embed rules onto certain cards. For example, most cards require you to take a drink. A jack might require you to answer, “Never have I ever.” So far, not much difference with the USA.
However, I discovered three differences. The first is that Brazilians have cards that allow the person to use the restroom. Unless you draw that card, you can’t leave the table. That’s a tough rule. The second difference is that in the States, we use a normal deck of 52 cards. The Brazilians use joker cards that make it a deck of 54. Jokers have a “pass-this-activity” function. You hold onto the joker as a sort of ”get-out-of-jail-free” card. You don’t want to play it too soon, which I learned the hard way.
The final difference applies to playing “Never Have I Ever.” In the United States, a player holds up three fingers and puts one finger down when they have done the thing the person says. When all three fingers go down, the player drinks. In Brazil, if the player has done the thing, they drink each time. That’s a lot more drinking.
The bottom line: Brazilian rules make people drink faster, and definitely make people laugh faster. I’m told they generally play drinking games with cachaça, a distilled spirit made from sugar cane juice. Maybe they were going light on us with cheap Skol beer.
Photo: This is a Züera craft beer from Rio de Janeiro, a beer usually too expensive for student drinking games.