History and its alcoholics
New Profiles
History and its alcoholics

Alcohol has existed as long as history has, as have drunks. Unsurprisingly some of those drunks made it to the pages of history. We covered authors before, here are some more of history’s drunks.

Buzz Aldrinbuzz aldrin

Apparently you could get away with a lot in the sixties’ at NASA. He walked on the moon with Neil Armstrong if you don’t know who he is. In 1976 he told an audience that he had been an alcoholic leading up to the famous 1969′ Apollo 11 flight. He quit drinking only two days before the historic flight to the moon.

The pilot’s drinking problem continued after the moon mission and got worse after he left NASA. His life, void of structure and direction, spiraled out of control leading to the break-up of his 21-year marriage. He entered rehab in 1978 and has been sober ever since.

Vincent Van Goghvincent van gogh

The Dutch post-impressionist only sold two paintings during his life. He was a tortured man, a genius and a notorious drinker. His favorite drink was absinthe, nicknamed the green fairy because of it’s hallucinatory effects.

The artist suffered from debilitating anxiety and mental illness. He believed that his drinking was making him go insane. In a letter to his brother he once wrote about alcohol: “…it was one of the great causes of my madness.”

Winston Churchillwinston churchill

You’d expect this iconic statesman to be a virtue of discipline and abstinence but nothing is farther from the truth. The man spent his entire life in service of the British Empire including serving as minister for all three branches of the military. He emboldened and united the British people, managed an alliance between the U.K., the U.S. and the Soviets and supervised day-to-day affairs of a society and military that spanned the entire world. That sort of job would cause many of us to sneak in a cheeky drink or two.

Churchill’s drinking schedule went like this: He started the day with a glass of whiskey soda going through a heap of documents concerning the day’s work. After getting out of bed he went to lunch accompanied by champagne and brandy. In the afternoon, a couple of tumblers of brandy helped him to digest any diplomatic and strategic issues. During dinner wine, scotch and gin were present. Finally he ended his day as he started by drinking a whiskey soda before bed.

Alexander The GreatAlexander the Great

Alexander The Great was a Macedonian military commander who’s conquests created one of the largest empires the world has ever known. He discovered lands and cultures that were unknown at the time and then conquered them. Not unlike Churchill he managed his grand empire and army while being intoxicated most of the time. Popular accounts have the conqueror drinking strong undiluted wine at anytime during the day, even during battles.

At a party in Samarkand, Alexander got so drunk that he murdered one of his best friends, a man who had saved his life on the battlefield. This incident was one of many that marked the beginning of the end for the man and his empire. The ruler was struck by grief, regret and depression which in turn stimulated his drinking even more. He died of unknown causes. Some say because of liver failure.

Boris YeltsinBoris Yeltsin

Boris Yeltsin was the only Russian leader since the dawn of the Soviet Union who gained popularity abroad. Not in the least because he was a warm and happy drunk who could charm everyone. Next to that he committed a slew of faux-pas to say the least.

A famous story was revealed by Bill Clinton in his memoirs, published in 2009. In the book he describes how Yeltsin got completely wasted while visiting the White House in 1995. He was found outside in his underpants trying to catch a cab because he was in the mood for pizza. The next day he got drunk again and got lost. When secret service agents found him stumbling around in the basement they thought he was a drunken intruder. Many other stories about Yeltsin can be found as well as a number of Youtube videos.

Maybe these people were highly functional alcoholics or lucked their way through life. Lets consider it over a good glass.


[Article by Alexander Eeckhout]