The Phalanx gaming table in action with some good old and refined glass of Whiskey
Photo Credit :
The League of Adventurous Gentlemen

If you’re like us – a true or wannabe gamer, your number of board game plays dramatically increases around the holidays taking advantage of all the gatherings of family and friends to break out as many board games as you can! These get-togethers are pretty casual and don’t always include board game fanatics. That means we usually end up playing lighter, gateway style games.

One of the ways to entice people to play is to choose games with themes you know they will like. My oldest sister Emilie loves camping and hiking, so on Thanksgiving, I brought out PARKS from Keymaster Games. It was a hit!

To make gameplay experiences feel thematic, I like to play thematic background music. My favorite game is Islebound and it pairs well with the “Down By the Sea” track from Tabletop Audio.

In Rathskellers Gaming Labs (RGL), we love spirits as much as we love board games. So we thought of another way to make game night more immersive. Holiday parties usually include alcoholic beverages, so why not drink some that pair well with the games you play!?Here are the top 10 board games with thematic drinks to help you sell your friends and family on playing them.


Letter Jam is number 10 because it’s the newest, and least thematic, game on the list. However, it’s included because we think it’s a fantastic cooperative game to play with people of all experience levels and it will surely become very popular as it makes its way into game collections.

In Letter Jam, each player begins the game with letters that make up a word and they have to guess the word by the end of the game. Sound simple? What makes the game challenging is that players can’t see their letter cards and must work together to give clues to help each other deduce their letters.

Clues are given by placing numbered poker chips in order in front of letters around the table to spell out the word. Each chip has a different fruit on it, which is why sangria is a great pairing. It’s made with wine and fruit, and many recipes allow for customization.

So choose your favorite fruits from Letter Jam and enjoy what’s probably the most popular drink of Spanish cuisine.

Point Salad = Bloody Mary

One of the simplest and most successful games to come out of 2019 was Point Salad. This “fast and fun drafting game” became a hit at GenCon because of its quick playtime, ease of learning, and replayability. With six different types of veggie cards and over 100 ways to score points for their combinations, Point Salad can be played and enjoyed multiple times in a row.

If you want to add a little flavor to your plays, mix up a few Bloody Marys using some of the same veggies depicted in Point Salad!

This recipe from recommends adding carrots and bell peppers as garnishes to the tomato-juice based beverage. What about the lettuce, onion, and cabbage? Get creative. I’m sure there are at least 100 ways to make a Bloody Mary.

Lords of Waterdeep = Mead

Dungeons and Dragons is seeing a resurgence thanks to shows like Stranger Things and Critical Role. Getting people to play a D&D-themed board game shouldn’t be as difficult as it may have been back in 2012 when Lords of Waterdeep was released. However, the game was pretty popular when it came out and it still is here at the end of 2019. I like teaching it to newcomers because it’s a great introduction to the worker placement mechanism. It’s simple, easy to teach, and the enjoyment of the game can be increased with a few glasses (or goblets) of mead.

Mead is essentially wine made from honey. It’s been around for thousands of years, but it’s become synonymous with the medieval period thanks to pop culture and literature.

Are any of your friends fans of Game of Thrones or The Elder Scrolls video game series? Offer them a glass of mead – and a chance to fight for control of Waterdeep!

Las Vegas = Gin & Tonic

Do you have any friends who love to roll dice? Any poker players or gamblers in the family? The odds of getting them to play Las Vegas are pretty high! In the game, players roll dice, assign the dice to various casinos with different amounts of cash, and then look at the dice to see who wins the money. That’s a simplified explanation, but it’s all you need to say to get people interested.

Seal the deal by serving gin & tonics. They’ve been among the most popular cocktails served at casino tables for a while now. To amp up the ambiance, serve them while playing Las Vegas on The Councilor Gaming Table. It’s our gaming/dining combo table and can act as a truly epic poker table for your Las Vegas themed nights!

With gin & tonic in one hand and dice in the other, you’ll have everybody feeling like a high roller!

Bang! The Dice Game = Beer

This is definitely one of RGL’s favorite large group games. Bang! The Dice Game feels just like a wild west movie. Deputies and the Sheriff fight the Outlaws while the Renegades try to take out everybody. The Indians even show up to shoot arrows at whoever is unlucky enough to roll an arrow symbol! With all the gunfights, dynamite explosions, Gatling guns, and arrows flying around, players begin to lose health fast!

How do cowboys heal? They drink beer! In Bang!, players need to roll beer symbols on the dice to remove wounds they’ve taken. Ah, if only that were true in real life. Though you can’t drink a beer to heal, you can provide a round to everyone playing. Take a drink every time you heal to make the game more immersive.

Bonus points if you serve some type of ale.

Potion Explosion = Witch’s Brew Potion

I’ve taught Potion Explosion to people of all skill levels and it’s always a hit. It’s easy to explain and easy to play, but the real fun is provided by that marble dispenser. It’s a clever way to make the game feel similar to the “match-three” mobile app games. The best part is the implementation of the theme. You grab ingredients to make all kinds of crazy potions that help you in the game. To get the special ability, players have to “drink” the potion.

Instead of pretending to drink a cardboard potion, brew your own !! And since we are a Lab after all, we’ve got you covered and found a recipe for “Witch’s Brew” that uses vodka and looks delicious. While it’s not specifically a potion you can make in the game, it does bear a resemblance to the “Potion of Uttermost Stickiness,” so we’ll call it that.

Jamaica = Rum and Coke

Arrrrrr you ready for a pirate game? Check out Jamaica! In the game, 2-6 pirates race their ships around the island of Jamaica. Players select cards that will move their ships, give them gold coins, food, or gunpowder. Throughout the game, you’ll have the opportunity to battle each other and steal loot! The endgame is triggered when a player has completed one lap around the island and whoever has the most gold wins!

Rum is the obvious drink of choice for a pirate game because, you know, pirates and rum are a thing. Mix in some coke for flavor and to ease up on the amount of alcohol you’re consuming.

Too much rum and you’ll end up doing a horrible Jack Sparrow impersonation.

Sushi Go = Sake/Sake Bomb

This entry can actually apply to three games: Sushi Go!, Sushi Go Party!, and Sushi Roll. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just refer to Sushi Go. These games are so simple, you could teach and begin playing within 10 minutes. They’re all great introductions to the drafting mechanism and feature adorable artwork of sushi dishes.

The pairing for this one is as easy as the game: Sake. Sake is made with fermented rice and is commonly consumed at Asian food restaurants. It goes along great with sushi and it’s a perfect beverage to drink while playing Sushi Go! There’s even a sake promo card you can purchase to add to your game! If you want to amp up the excitement, make sake bombs by pouring sake into a shot glass and dropping it into a glass of beer.

Spyfall = Vodka Martini (Shaken, Not Stirred)

We had to find somewhere to place this one! The vodka martini, the drink of choice for James Bond, is a no-brainer for this list. And while there are several great spy games out there, Spyfall gets chosen for its simplicity.

Location cards are randomly dealt out to the players, except one person will receive the spy card. Their identity is kept secret. Players take turns asking each other questions about the locations that only people with the location card would know. The spy has to try to infer the location based on the questioning, and if they guess the location correctly, they win! Players probably don’t want to have more than one of these or else they’ll have a REALLY difficult time asking and answering questions.

Viticulture = Wine

Okay, okay.

This one is SUPER obvious, but it’s so thematic that we couldn’t leave it off the list. Viticulture is probably the most difficult game on this list, but I still think that non-gamers could get the hang of it. In this worker placement game, each player runs their winery and use their workers to make red, white, and even sparkling wines. It’s thematic and satisfying to grow grapes, press them, mix them into wine, and then sell them.

We’ve seen countless pictures on social media of gamers playing Viticulture with their wine of choice. It’s almost a requirement. In fact, we think you should get bonus points for having a glass!


Do you have a favorite good Game / Spirit combo. Share your thoughts in the comment area below.

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