Handled well, a booze-themed tattoo speaks to the human condition. Sailors once lined the streets of America’s busiest ports to get “Stewed, Screwed, and Tattooed.” Popularized by Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins of Honolulu, the phrase encapsulates the three steps of a successful shore leave—have a few drinks, get laid, then cap it all off with an indelible mark. One of the craft’s great themes, Man’s Ruin, combines a trio of vices—drinking, gambling, and women—to form a single, powerful image. Traditions in tattooing have standardized appropriate boozy images, steadying the ship (so to speak) and promoting proper articulation of alcoholic adulation.
But when booze-themed veer off a steady course, the results are wobblier—in conception and execution—than a local barfly at 1am. You’ll find few celebrations of classic cocktails or historic brewing imagery here. Instead, there are shaky drawings of popular brands and brazen calls to “DRINK!” Rather than reflecting the culture and history of inebriation, these curiously ill-conceived pictures come off as things you would only choose to commit to skin when you are literally inebriated.
Take heed should you want to celebrate your love of rum or whiskey in ink. Follow tradition, or end up like these poor souls.
Click through the gallery above to see the most heinous examples of when booze-themed tattoos go wrong.