The consumption of alcohol has many effects on a person, one of which is the lowering of inhibitions. It can make a person feel more confident in their abilities, eliminate self-consciousness and doubt, and just plain make things seem less frightening. As a result, some people will consume alcohol in a deliberate attempt to bolster their courage before doing something they consider scary or intimidating.
The fearsome event can be anything from relatively minor (giving a speech) to potentially embarrassing (getting naked on stage) to life-altering (proposing marriage) to life-threatening (actual combat); the key to this trope is that someone (usually the drinker) feels the anticipated event warrants the alcoholic aid. Occasionally, the booze is provided by someone else who thinks it will be helpful.
Compare Drunken Master (when drinking actually makes them stronger) and Booze-Based Buff (booze in a video game strengthens your player character in some way). The explanation of Bottled Heroic Resolve may not be that it actually gives the drinker extra strength, but this trope instead, overlapping with Magic Feather in the process.
Contrast Drowning My Sorrows (in which a character drinks to forget something that makes them feel sad or depressed), I Need a Freaking Drink (in which a character consumes a stress-reducing drink after the event, not before) and In Vino Veritas (in which a character speaks their thoughts a little too openly when drunk). A dark side of this is the Alcohol-Induced Idiocy.
This is probably one of the Oldest Ones in the Book; it's often called "Dutch courage" after an old synonym for gin (which originally came from the Netherlands) or, in humorous pseudo-intellectual fashion, "pot-valiancy".
Truth in Television, of course. Just remember your drinking limits, okay?
Not to be confused with the Let's Play series of the same title.
- Captain Haddock doesn't need booze to fight capably, but can go Leeroy Jenkins when drunk.
- In "The Broken Ear", Tintin is framed as a revolutionary, sentenced to be Shot at Dawn and shares a bottle with the officer in charge to steady his nerves. Tintin gets so drunk he ends up shouting the praises of the revolution before the Firing Squad. He's rescued Just in Time by the revolutionaries who've just taken over; they are so impressed with Tintin's bravery he's promoted to aide-de-camp of the new generalissimo. Waking up the next day with no memory of what happened, Tintin is understandably confused.
- When Iron Man was going through the most severe stages of his alcoholism, he would sometimes drink before battle, stating that it helped his resolve. Obviously, this was seen as denial.
- In Before Watchmen: Minutemen, Byron Lewis requires increasingly large quantities of booze in order to keep adventuring, as his harness does painful things to his body, and the actual fighting wrecks his nerves. After getting investigated by the House Un-American Activities Commission and nearly getting killed by former teammate Hooded Justice, he finally reaches a breaking point, hangs up his tights, and goes off to rehab. Sadly, he never fully recovers.
- In the Katawa Shoujo fic Lilly Epilogue Family Matters, a subtler version of this is applied. Lilly has between two and three glasses of wine when her parents visit for dinner, and Hisao notices that she's more confident than usual in dealing with her father when he suggests that she return to Scotland. When her Berserk Button has been pressed by her father insulting her boyfriend Hisao and her best friend Hanako, she calls him out on it, and after he says he raised her better than to put words in his mouth, she angrily yells YOU HARDLY RAISED ME AT ALL, YOU BASTARD!!
- In A Spark of Ice and Fire, Tyrion is drunk out of his ass when he meets a large clank made out of Gregor Clegane's armor, and he acts very non-chalant as he tells it how to find Gregor Clegane.
- A Crown of Stars: During a ball, Shinji and Asuka had to dance. Since Shinji was terrified, Daniel offered him a drink, stating that he put a "Charm of Courage" on it. Shinji downed it, and he felt braver. Several minutes later he found out that Daniel had given him a glass of rum.
Misato: Ah, sir? Just what the Hell did you give him?
Daniel: Exactly what I said, Lieutenant Katsuragi; there was indeed a Charm of Courage on that glass.
Misato: Wow. Thats what a little courage can do?
Daniel: Of course. In about five minutes the Charm will wear off. Right about then the rest of that liquid courage will kick in.
Misato: You didnt
Daniel: Well, I had to put the Charm on something. The 100 proof Nenya Argentum Grande rum in the glass was the perfect carrier.
- In the Parody Fic Captain Proton and the Planet of Lesbians, while being held captive by the Twin Mistresses of Evil Buster Kincaid recites a Memetic Mutation of the Litany Against Fear from Dune.
"I must drink beer. Beer is the mind killer. Beer brings the hangover that causes total obliteration. I will scull my beer. I will let it pass through me, till only urine remains!"
- Much Ado about Shakespeare: Love's Labours Won, Horatio drinks ale before he goes to talk to Archie about them and their forbidden love. He intends for them to have a Relationship Upgrade from friends to lovers.
"Well, it was time to show Archie that he, too, could woo with words. Hardly believing what he had talked himself into, Horatio ordered another pint of ale (well, technically his first), and then opened the little book again. He would need some liquid courage to come up with a strategy."
- In Five Star Final, Taylor comes back to the office drunk, and when Arthur asks her why, she says she had to get drunk to tell Randall what she wanted to say. And she does, telling Randall that they are doing a terrible thing to Nancy Townsend. (They all work for a newspaper which is digging up a 20-year old murder scandal and raking Nancy Townsend over the coals in order to sell papers.)
- In Darling Lili, Bill and Lili discuss the perpetually drunk pilot T.C.:
Lili: Why does he drink?
Bill: Because he's afraid to fly.
Lili: Then why does he fly?
Bill: Because he likes to drink.
- In the film Detroit Rock City, the character Hawk enters an amateur competition at a male strip club in an attempt to win money to buy concert tickets. Because he has such horrible stage fright, he drinks several cocktails before going on stage... and subsequently pukes all over the place.
- At the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Samwise Gamgee chugs an entire mug of ale before proposing to Rosie Cotton.
- In The Dark Knight, Alfred Pennyworth offers "liquid courage" to help Harvey Dent face the crowd in his own fundraising party.
- After the bar brawl in Serenity, Jayne was freaked out by River even in her confinement. He wouldn't have confronted her if he was sober, especially considering that was close to the mistake that almost got him Thrown Out the Airlock during the TV series.
- Jackboots on Whitehall. When The Vicar gets drunk and starts insulting the advancing German army, Winston Churchill orders the barrel to be rolled out.
Vicar: Come and fight me, my God against yours!Soldier: Sorry sir, he must have found his way back to the bottle.Churchill: Good man.Vicar: Sausage eating wankers! (echo) WANKERS! WANKERS! WANKERS!Churchill: Let us take example from the Church. Double the ale ration, two pints per man!
- The Australian film Black and White is about the Max Stuart case in the late 1950's. Lawyer David O'Sullivan asks his female colleague Helen Devaney why she drinks so much. She points out that as one of the few female lawyers in the country, she's had to get up on the stand with an entire roomful of male colleagues all hoping she'll fail. "A few drinks and I had as much balls as any of them."
- Double Wedding: Throughout the whole film, Waldo has been a rather meek tempered man whos willing to do whatever makes everyone happy but himself. But once he finds out that Irene is marrying Charles, and he has a bit too much to drink, he finally stands up for himself.
- Invoked by dustman Alfred Doolittle in My Fair Lady while haggling his daughter Eliza for a handout in order to -guess what:
Alfred: Eliza, you wouldn't have the heart to send me home to your stepmother without a drop of liquid protection, now, would you?
- In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the "courage" that the Cowardly Lion is given is in a liquid form, which fans of the book take as a Stealth Pun on the phrase "liquid courage".
- P. G. Wodehouse loves this trope. Several of his books feature timid young men having a slug of brandy or the like when nerving themselves up to propose to their dream girls. A particularly notable example is in Right Ho, Jeeves when both Jeeves and Bertie separately spike Gussie Fink-Nottle's orange juice before he has to make a prize-giving speech at a local school, in part to help him get over stage fright, and in the hopes he'll have the courage to propose to Madeleine. They each intend to give him a little extra "courage" without his knowledge, but Gussie has also found a bottle of liquor on his own, and their combined efforts lead to Gussie showing up for his speech completely plastered. The result is one of the funniest speeches in the history of literature. The getting-married part doesn't work out as well.
- O. Henry's story "The Lost Blend" ends with a meek young man downing the last few ounces of the title drink, and finally finding the courage to sweep his beloved barmaid off her feet.
- In The Last Continent, Lovable Coward Rincewind becomes a lot more cheerful and optimistic after a few pints of Ecksian beer. At one point, he even has to get slightly drunk so he can figure out how to get his fellow wizards out of a "knot" in time and space.
- In Carpe Jugulum, Nanny Ogg tells Agnes that vampire hunters get roaring drunk before setting out, both to encourage themselves and to prevent Mind Control (if their own minds are muddled, the vampire can't control the person entirely).
- The Smart Guy Matthew Berdishevsky in Pelagia and the Red Rooster is usually prim and proper to a fault, but when The Power of Love hits him, he starts drinking and suddenly goes all James Bond on the baddies.
- Flashman's eponymous "hero" is a self-admitted poltroon who would do everything he can to get out of fighting...so it's quite a shock, even to himself well after the fact, when he voluntarily leads the mission by Yakub Beg and his tribesmen to destroy the Russian supply fleet in Flashman at the Charge. Turns out to be the effect of the hashish with which the Silk One dosed him with beforehand, which at least temporarily turned him into a roaring berserker.
- In the Kharkanas Trilogy, Toras Redone has in the past admitted to Galar Baras that she first had to get seriously drunk to have the courage to invite him to her bed. She does it again during the first volume, Forge of Darkness.
- Citadel by Dale Dye (aka Run Between The Raindrops). In the final attack on the eponymous fortress in Hue, the protagonist notices the NVA defenders are strangely slow to react to his presence. Turns out they figured they were going to die and so doped themselves up beforehand. Unfortunately in this case artificial courage also means slow reaction time, making them Too Drugged To Live.
- In Emma, Mr Elton has been drinking wine (probably more than he should have) at the Westons' Christmas party before he proposes to Emma. Emma is not pleased.
She believed he had been drinking too much of Mr Weston's good wine, and felt sure that he would want to be talking nonsense.
- Heralds of Valdemar:
- In Closer to Home, King's Own Herald Nikolas dies and the role is passed to his daughter Amily—but then Nikolas is brought back via CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable. The King and his whole council are in such a tizzy over the unprecedented situation of having both a current and former King's Own at once that Mags has to go bursting into their meeting to loudly point out how excellent the situation turned out. Before he does, he downs a "tiny glass of distilled spirits" to bolster his courage enough to shout at the King.
- Later in the same book, the servants of one of the Feuding Families at the center of the plot make plans to go attack the other family's servants. Mags knows he's got a bit of time to break up the fight before it starts, because of the attackers' need for "beer-balls" before they start the brawl.
- Invoked in the old Jose Jimenez routine on The Steve Allen Show as performed by Bill Dana. The joke centered on the common use of 'blastoff' in spaceflight references.
Jose: I take a blast before I take off. Otherwise, I don't wanna go near that thing.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Gift," the gang pauses before the walk towards Glory's crazy tower of doom. Willow off-handedly comments that she could use a shot of courage right about now. Spike's hand appears from offscreen, offering her a flask. Willow thanks him, but says that she meant the real kind of courage. Spike does the equivalent of a shrug and takes a Quick Nip himself.
- On the Grand Finale of Angel "Not Fade Away", Angel orders his friends to take the day off since it will likely be their last day alive. Spike decides to go to a bar and finds out they are having a poetry slam. He helps himself to a few drinks to work up the courage to share his poetry with the crowd. He's overjoyed when his poetry gets a standing ovation in contrast to the jeers he received when he was still a struggling mortal wannabe poet.
- Agatha Christie:
- In the 2004 adaptation of The Murder at the Vicarage, the character Sylvia Lester speaks of needing "Dutch courage" before telling Lettice Protheroe that she's the girl's mother. Mrs. Lester is depicted as a frequent drinker; she offers "a stiffener" from her own flask at a tea party, and she's often seen at a local hotel bar.
- In the 2006 adaptation of The Moving Finger, hard-drinking war veteran Jerry Burton (who also narrates the episode) speaks of needing "Dutch courage" at one point. His use of alcohol to cope with life after his wartime experiences jumpstarts the plot, since he crashes his motorcycle and goes to a small village to recuperate.
- Kaamelott. Bohort, a complete Dirty Coward, once got drunk and turned into an aggressive warmonger.
- The Big Bang Theory: Raj, who is unable to speak in the presence of a girl, becomes a regular Casanova after a few drinks. In this case it is more of a psychological thing, as it works when he has a non-alcoholic drink and doesn't realize it — when told, he clams up automatically.
- Jim Lahey in the later seasons of Trailer Park Boys is addicted to alcohol and frequently invokes this.
- In the M*A*S*H episode, "Alcoholics Unanimous", after Frank banned alcohol from the camp, he asked Father Mulcahy to give a temperance lecture and made attendance mandatory. Mulcahy was so nervous beforehand, Klinger poured him a drink (the good father had a bottle in his tent, a gift from a soldier for "a successful confession"). He probably wound up having several, as he was clearly drunk during the lecture.
- The Highlander episode, "Courage", dealt with wan Immortal named Brian Cullen. He was regarded by many (including Duncan) to be the best swordsman around, to the point where he was constantly being challenged by Immortals AND mortals. By the mid-late 1800's, he cracked and turned to drugs and alcohol to get through life.
- On The 100, a Grounder takes a swig of moonshine before trying to cross a field being hit by sniper fire. That gives Octavia the idea to throw the moonshine into a fire, creating a smokescreen to hide them from the sniper while they dash across . . . but not before Octavia takes a swig herself.
- Murdoch Mysteries: Near the end of "The Murdoch Sting", Inspector Brackenreid advises Crabtree to make an effort to win back Dr. Grace's affections. Murdoch is in the room, and after Crabtree leaves, he declares he too will take the inspector's advice and (in his own case) propose to Dr. Ogden. Murdoch then goes to Brackenreid's decanter, pours two glasses (one for himself and one for his boss), and quickly downs his own drink. It turns out he probably needed that drink, since Julia refuses him before can finish due to threats against their lives.
- Deep Space Nine. In "Behind the Lines", the amoral Ferengi bartender Quark makes a surprise appearance at a meeting that Odo, Kira and Jake Sisko are holding to plot La Résistance to their Cardassian/Dominion occupiers. Quark has found out some crucial information while drinking with a Cardassian officer, and is still feeling the effects.
Quark: I just had a bottle of kanar, with Damar. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! That rhymes!Jake Sisko: You're drunk.Quark: Of course I'm drunk. I certainly wouldn't risk coming in here and associating myself with your little Resistance cell if I wasn't drunk.
- Supernatural. In "The Girl with the Dungeons & Dragons Tattoo", the eponymous girl has been recruited to break into the Big Bad's office, but starts to Freak Out and says she can't go through with it. Suddenly Sam and Dean realise that Ghost!Bobby has snuck his hip flask into Charlie's bag (his spirit is bound to the flask, so he can accompany her in). When they point this out, Charlie assumes they're referring to this trope and takes a big swig.
- Monk: The murderer in "Mr Monk and the Foreign Man" is shown using booze to steady his nerves before he attempts to kill Monk and Samuel.
- In "The Even Chance" of Horatio Hornblower, midshipman Clayton drinks from his flask, then goes belowdecks and knocks Horatio out. He takes his place in the duel with Simpson. He felt that as an older and senior midshipman, he should deal with Simpson himself.
- In Korpiklaani's Ode to Intoxication "Vodka", confidence is the main reason cited for why the drink is so awesome.
Vodka! You're feeling stronger!
Vodka! No more feeling bad!
Vodka! Your eyes are shining!
Vodka! You are the real man!
- There's a famous Irish drinking song that, in all its variations, plays with this trope:
The liquor was spilled on the bar-room floor and the bar was closed for the night,
When a little mouse crept from his hole in the wall, and sat in the pale moonlight
He lapped up the liquor on the bar-room floor, then on his haunches he sat;
And all night long you could hear him roar: "Bring on the goddamn cat!"
- While the protagonist of the Eagles song "Tequila Sunrise" is mostly Drowning His Sorrows, there's a suggestion that he's also trying, and failing, to work up the gumption to talk to his love interest.
Take another shot of courage
Wonder why the right words never come
You just get numb.
- In the board game Red November, gnome sailors on a prototype submarine have to survive 60 minutes until they get rescued while the ship is struck by all kinds of disasters and a colossal Kraken is lurking outside. When a gnome wishes to enter a burning room, he has to either use a fire extinguisher or drink a bottle of vodka to brave the flames.
- Arkham Horror has Whiskey card that can be discarded to reduce sanity loss from encountering otherworldly horrors. It is described ambiguously enough that it could be either liquid courage or No More for Me.
- In The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) the actor playing Romeo is about to drink the poison, kiss the actor (note: actor) playing Juliet, and die. He swigs, looks at the man lying down in front of him, pauses with disgust and indecision, then takes another swig of "poison" as if he needs it to deaden his senses for the kiss ahead.
- In the game Eternal Darkness, Edward Roivas keeps casks of the stuff in his basement, because it helps keep him calm when dealing with the cyclopean nightmare-city under his house. During gameplay he keeps a flask on him, and drinks from it when he needs to deal with the weird happenings, but doesn't have time to rationalize or analyze it like he normally would— which he knows would just drive him insane anyway. The player can acquire some of it, which is called "Liquid Courage" and restores Sanity.
- Used as a sort of Interface Screw in World of Warcraft: when drunk, mobs look lower level than they actually are.
- This trope gets a nod in the second installment of Elvira, where the only component needed for the "Courage" spell, which prevents you from fainting at the sight of certain monsters, is a flask of an alcoholic beverage.
- In Magic and Mayhem, the player has to recruit Arthur's knights to fight against the Big Bad. In the case of Kay, this involves finding a flask of wine to give him courage.
- Rev. Jim Maynard in Chapter 2 of Nocturne keeps some scotch hidden behind his pulpit, which he sheepishly admits to The Stranger. The manual explicitly chalks up his bravery in protecting his church from a small-scale Zombie Apocalypse to both his faith in God and the liquid courage of scotch whiskey.
- Penny and Aggie: Stan discovers his father, visibly intoxicated, is out of work. The father claims he's been looking, but "needed a little liquid courage" so he could meet interviewers' eyes.
- Sandra on the Rocks: The title character (who originated in Ménage à 3) mostly drinks because she enjoys it, gets drunk, and then does outrageous and arguably stupidly brave things. Occasionally, though, she deliberately gets drunk for the sake of courage, before attempting things like dating highly attractive people or sexy dancing.
- Scary Go Round: Milford gets Carrot, a normally shy and timid teenage boy who's afraid of fights, liquored up and encourages him to ask Sarah out on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, Sarah prefers Ryan, who prefers her right back. Carrot interrupts a cuddly moment between them by punching Ryan in the face.
- In Tripping Over You, this overlaps with Drowning My Sorrows: Milo knocks back a drink when he thinks his love interest Liam has started dating someone else; when he realizes he's misunderstood, he decides to seize the moment and confess his feelings. Not without consequence, since he infuriates Liam by kissing him in a public lavatory, but it does catalyze their Relationship Upgrade.
- The Simpsons:
- In one episode, an elderly cowboy actor drinks from a flask of whiskey when he realizes that he's going to be performing in front of a live audience for the first time in decades.
- A Treehouse of Horror Couch Gag which has all the couches and chairs of Springfield killing people, Moe chugs down a whole bottle of liquor before taking on his entire bar.
- Averted in another episode, "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses", where Barney thinks he needs beer in order to fly a helicopter to save the children, but Homer convinces him "You have to be sober for this".
- In "Jaws Wired Shut" Marge, out of boredom, enters a demolition derby, she quickly realizes she is in over her head and the family tries to figure out how to rescue her. Bart grabs a beer and feeds it to Homer who then rescues Marge while someone else's theme music is playing.
- Subverted in Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron. As Dr. Bruttenholm is cornered by the vampire Erzsebet Ondrushko, he pulls out a hip flask and motions like he's going to take a drink. Ondrushko mocks him for needing alcohol to steady his nerves in his last moments. Bruttenholm responds by flinging the contents of the flask at her: it's full of holy water.
- Groundbreaking 1894 French cartoon Pauvre Pierrot involves Pierre the lover shyly giving Colombine a bouquet. He then returns, swigging from a bottle, and serenades her from outside. She ignores him.
- In The Country Cousin, Abner the mouse downs a whole glass of champagne, which is a lot for a mouse. He then kicks the housecat in the butt. This turns out to be a very bad decision.
- World War II:
- The Soviet Army's "The Peoples' Commissar's 100 grams" were a shot of vodka given to every soldier before attack.
- The Japanese kamikaze pilots used to drink sake before being sent off to their deaths.
- Russian television presenter Anton Krasovsky spoke of doing this before outing himself as gay on television:
'"I can't say I'd been preparing for this. But just before the show, i.e. two hours before the fact, I had already known I would do this," he told Snob.ru. "I also had had some 300 grams of whiskey, a bit of Dutch courage," he added.
- Krasovsky was fired from the government-backed cable network that he had helped launch within hours of the broadcast.
- Titanic shipwreck:
- According to Walter Lord's A Night to Remember a senior chief steward aboard the Titanic helped launch a few lifeboats then decided he could use a glass or three and slipped down to his cabin where he downed most of a bottle finally going back up very well insulated. When the deck tilted too much to walk on he slipped outside the rail and walked on the side of the ship until he reached the stern where he stood while it went down like an elevator under him then paddled calmly off into the icy night to be picked up eventually by a boat.
- A cook managed to keep himself alive long enough to be rescued by chugging a flask of brandy as the ship went under. The cook is seen doing this on the sinking stern in Titanic (1997), although his survival is not depicted in the film.
- It is not uncommon for actors of all genders to have a fairly strong drink before performing a scene that involves getting naked on camera. When Allison Janney won an Emmy for a guest role in Masters of Sex, she thanked a crew member who had given her a shot of bourbon before a sex scene.
- The Chupilca del diablo was a mix of gunpowder and Chilean aguardiente that Chilean soldiers used to drink before battle in the Chile vs. Peru's War of the Pacific, since it was said that any soldier who drank this mix would go into an Unstoppable Rage against the enemy. This drink was so infamous that it even made its way in a Chilean card game featuring the War of the Pacific.
- Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria's body was found with a glass of cognac. He had murdered his mistress Mary Vetsera, sat with her corpse for hours, then shot himself in the head.
- Historically in England, those who were condemned to hang at Tyburn gallows were allowed to visit a tavern while being transported en route.