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Quick Nip

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Whatever gets you through the day.

A character ingests intoxicants usually, but not always, alcohol from a hip flask casually, without interrupting whatever else he's doing, without commenting on it, and sometimes without drawing comment from other characters.

This versatile bit of business turns up in both comedy and drama and, depending on context, can say any number of things about a character. It may be used to portray him as pathetically dependent; or, conversely, to establish him as a low-grade badass, Immune to Drugs; or, if it's not habitual, to emphasize that he's under unusual stress. Or the focus may be on the other characters' lack of reaction: they know this guy so well, they're used to it.

In Blacksmith Scene, the first film ever, the characters share a beer before getting back to work, making this Older Than Television.

Contrast Bottled Heroic Resolve. May be prone to declaring "No More for Me" on seeing something too weird to handle. See also Drinking on Duty.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the second season of Darker than Black, perhaps because she's become freelance, April has replaced her former can of beer with a more quickly accessible drink from a hip flask. Hei also is shown drinking from a hip flask, although in his case, it seems to indicate that he's become an alcoholic, another manifestation, along with Wild Hair and Perma-Stubble that he's gone through a lot since the Time Skip.
  • Attack on Titan: Dot Pixis' tendency to regularly reach for his pocket flask during important conversations is one of his Character Tics, and one of those little quirks that make him the Bunny-Ears Lawyer that he is.

    Comic Books 
  • Ralph Dibny slowly descends into alcoholism and madness in 52 as he tries to revive his murdered wife Sue. Throughout the series he takes quick nips from a hip flask. It's all an act to fool Felix Faust. The flask is actually filled with Gingold, the extract that grants Dibny his stretching powers.

  • "The Only Way to Go": Eleya and Tia share a drink of springwine from a hip flask over the grave of Tia's wife after the funeral.

    Film Live-Action 
  • In Charade, when Bartholomew is introduced, he is rubbing dry-cleaning solution into his tie as he talks to Reggie. When he finishes, he gives the rag a quick sniff, stuffs it in his pocket, and keeps talking as though nothing had happened. In retrospect, she should've known he was no good.
  • Clive Owen's character from the movie Children of Men has a small bottle of whiskey that he keeps on his person. He stands on the street and dumps a slug of it into his coffee before going to work, and no one seems to notice.
  • Daylight's End: Ethan is seen taking sips from a flask a few times.
  • Sky Captain (played by Jude Law) from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004). In a subversion, he's actually drinking Milk of Magnesia for his stomach ulcer.
  • Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.
  • Jayne takes a drink like this at least once in Serenity.
    • This is after he uses whatever booze was in the flask to disinfect a gnarly harpoon wound in his leg.
  • In Unforgiven, William Munny takes a drink of whiskey just before going in to fight the assembled lawmen in the saloon. This was probably to demonstrate a return to the lawbreaking ways he followed before marrying his late wife, who had convinced him to give up alcohol.
  • The second thing Eddie Valiant does after his first appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is take a swig of Wild Turkey. He acts as though it's a case of I Need a Freaking Drink (he does it after disgustedly muttering "Toons" under his breath), but the film is quick to establish that he is in fact The Alcoholic.
  • In Reign of Fire, Van Zan has one of these that he carries around and drinks from for most of the movie. It's subverted near the end when he gives the protagonist a drink.
    "Hey, this is just water!"
  • Ghostbusters (1984). After they're thrown out of their university laboratory, Peter Venkman tries to sell Ray Stanz on the idea of going into business for themselves. While talking, both of them take a drink out of a bottle of whiskey.
  • The dance instructor in Shall We Dance? takes sips from a flask during classes as a sign she considers the numbskulls she is teaching to dance something she needs a shot of whiskey to get through. Eventually the class grows better at dancing and become friends and she has a moment where she goes to take a sip, shrugs, and puts it away untouched.
  • The Comedian drinks from a flask at least once during the Watchmen movie adaptation. It is commented on in this case; another character suggests that maybe there should be a rule about drinking at meetings. The Comedian just laughs.
  • In Empire Records, Corey occasionally pops a pill when under stress, which turn out to be speed, hence her ability to stay up studying and making cupcakes and so on. However, later in the film Gina confronts her over it.
  • One of the passengers -a cook- in Titanic (1997) as the ship goes down does this as he and the protagonists hang on for dear life on the upturned bow of the ship. Considering his position, it'd probably be his last chance to do so. As it happens, this cook was a real man, Charles Joughin, who did survive the sinking, despite being in the freezing water for two hours or so. Some have suggested that the alcohol he drank kept him alive, but this claim is in doubt (given that one effect of alcohol consumption is an increased risk of hypothermia).
  • In Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke, during their trial for possession, Man is severely messed up, due to trying to eat the evidence. Despite the judge's protests, Pedro goes up to get him a glass of water from her pitcher. Man takes a swig, then spits it out, and says, "It's fucking vodka!"
  • Toyed with in Back to the Future. Before asking Lorraine to the dance, George McFly orders, "Lou... give me a milk. Chocolate." He takes one swig, then goes to try his luck.
  • The main character in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans does this all the time. In one scene, he pauses from interviewing a suspect to light up a joint...with almost his entire squad sitting on the other side of a closed door.
  • Mr Gibbs swigs from a leather flask in the opening scene of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as the ship he is on nervously negotiates an eerie fog.
  • Happens at the Montauk restaurant in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Joel watches Clem spiking her coffee with spirit from a flask she brought with.
  • Champagne from Kingsman: The Golden Circle is constantly sampling alcohol and tobacco. Unlike other examples of this trope, however, he doesn't actually swallow anything (mostly just sniffs and the occasional swish) and keeps a spittoon next to his chair.
  • Jack Caldwell, the sports director of Camp North Pines in Summer Camp Nightmare, is an alcoholic who is seen taking quick nips even during times when he should be watching over the children for their safety.
  • Shandra: The Jungle Girl: After the expedition finds the body of his brother Antonio, Diego is constantly seen taking swigs from a hip flask.
  • The Butchers: When Auntie May and Daisy are left alone in the diner, Auntie May pulls a flask out of her Victoria's Secret Compartment and takes a swig from it. She then offers it to daisy, who, after a few moments of hesitation, decides that the circumstances warrant it and also takes a swig.
  • In When Evil Calls, the Janitor pours a shot of whiskey into his tea mug and drinks it without interrupting his narrative.
  • in .45, Big Al is an alcoholic who carries a hip flask that he is constantly pulling from.
  • In Antebellum, Captain Jasper carries a hip flask and is often showing taking a quick pull from it before doing something unpleasant, such as riding down a runaway slave and shooting her.
  • Early in Sands of the Kalahari, washed-up engineer Mike Bain is often seen taking a quick shot from a hip flask. Being stranded in the desert forces him to go cold turkey.
  • In Dead Ringers, all three of the central characters pop pills at various points in the narrative. Of particular note is a scene of one of the brothers, as he waits for an elevator, coolly and systematically dipping into an almost comically long series of prescription bottles he keeps in his pockets.

  • Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody in the Harry Potter series is well known for drinking only from a flask (of juice, mind) he carries at his hip. This is a result of Moody's paranoia and fear of attack resulting from a long, enemy-gaining career as an Auror. (In Goblet of Fire Barty Crouch Jr. used this quirk of Moody's to full advantage, filling the flask with the potion that allowed him to assume Moody's appearance and drinking it once an hour to maintain the effects.) They neglect to mention the motivation behind always drinking from a flask in the movie version, making him look like an insane alcoholic instead.
  • In Mike Carey's The Devil You Know, this is how the murderer is found.
  • Discworld's Nanny Ogg keeps her hipflask hidden away in TrouserKnicker Space.
  • In Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold, Nicomo Cosca, an alcoholic, tries for a long time to do this and later does once he becomes Captain General of the Thousand Swords again.
  • Bruno from Strangers on a Train carries a hip flask. One of the first things he does when he meets Guy is to offer him a drink.

    Live-Action TV 
  • IN SPACE! in Andor where Mosk is shown taking a swig from his space flask as he waits on a rooftop in ambush in "Reckoning".
  • Mrs. Slocombe of Are You Being Served? often sips from a hip flask behind the counter.
  • A frequent habit of Colonel Tigh in Battlestar Galactica (2003). Even while on duty.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Rajesh takes a nip from a flask. When the others notice, he explains that it's cough syrup (he was nursing a cold at the time), which he finds just as effective as liquor.
  • On A Bit of Fry and Laurie, 80s businessmen parodies John and Peter are perpetually discussing some kind of unspecified crisis in their boardroom, shouting, swearing, cursing their Arch-Enemy Marjorie... and drinking. They refill their glasses over and over in a five-minute sketch; they slam them dramatically onto hard surfaces; they make huge gestures that result in liquid flung across the room (which probably explains some of the refilling); once, John says a line that ends with wordless liquid burbling because he decided to take a sip while he was still talking. Lucky it was actually tea in those glasses, or Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie would be long dead from sheer alcohol overdose.
  • Spike occasionally does this on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • The Colbert Report: Stephen Colbert does so in this segment (towards the end).
  • Mason, a Reaper from Dead Like Me, carried a hipflask with alcohol, except during that time when he actually was off the drugs and booze. (He got back on the booze at the start of the second season after he had to reap a family father during the man's daughter's birthday party, but tried to keep it a secret from the others.)
  • Doctor Who: In "Planet of the Ood", Klineman Halpen keeps taking quick nips, which is commented on by others. He explains that it's "hair tonic". He believes it's hair tonic, but instead it turns him into an Ood, one of the very aliens he had enslaved.
  • Father Brown: In "The Scales of Justice", Bunty's barrister quicks taking nip from a hip flask while conducting her defense, until Mrs McCarthy confiscates it from.
  • GLOW (2017): Sam Sylvia often needs his little encouragement before starting the work day from a mini-bottle of Vodka or a quick bump of cocaine. After a disasterous day, Debbie also decides to take snort a bit before a match with Ruth, which ends with an On-Set Injury when she pulls Ruth's leg too hard into a lock.
  • In an episode of Good Eats that was about meat pie (and parodied Sweeney Todd of all things!), "Mrs. Lovett" asks for "a quick nip" from a flask produced by Alton. He hands it to her, and she takes a swig...only to spit it out. It turns out the substance in the flask is Worcestershire sauce.
  • When Cindy comes back from Washington in the tenth episode of Good Girls Revolt, she smiles in the taxi and takes a nip from a little bottle of liquor she has in her handbag, indicating her Descent into Addiction.
  • Gossip Girl: Chuck Bass frequently does this, on occasion with flasks.
  • House has been known to pop Vicodin while diagnosing patients. Justified by it being prescription medication for chronic pain that he needs to take at somewhat regular intervals.
  • Throughout several seasons of Leverage, Nathan Ford is battling alcoholism, or an active alcoholic. As such, whenever he casually pulls out a glass of liquor, none of the team comments, except for those occaisons where he goes too far in his plotting, or when they know that he is trying to stop drinking.
  • In Life on Mars Gene Hunt keeps alcohol in his office and regularly drinks from a hip flask. Lampshaded when he gets shot and pulls a dented flask from his coat to demonstrate why he's unhurt; a relieved Sam asks rhetorically, "What are the chances?" and Gene replies, "Pretty good, actually," as he pulls out several more flasks.
  • Whenever Hawkeye Pierce of M*A*S*H isn't up to his elbows in somebody's gut (or using both hands to carry out this episode's Zany Scheme), there's a fifty percent chance that he's carrying around a Martini Glass.
  • In the Christmas Special of The Goes Wrong Show, Robert (as Santa) has a glass of sherry, before deciding he needs "just another nip." Several nips later, Intoxication Ensues. Even he admits "that's a few too many nips."
  • In Los Simuladores' Mexican remake (a show about people who make a living pulling Batman Gambits to help people), Maximo Santana once cleverly posed as an antiacid guzzler in order to leave the place by faking a terrible reflux once he runs out of "antiacid".
  • Oliver does this in the first episode of Slings & Arrows.
  • Dean Winchester from Supernatural in "Houses of the Holy" and through most of season 7.
    Sam: Really? From a freaking flask? What are you, Bad Santa? On the job?
    Dean: We're always on the job.
  • A subversion in an episode of Veronica Mars features a poker game where one of the players periodically takes a swig from a bottle of Jack Daniels he keeps with him. Later in the same episode, Veronica (a very small blonde teenager, and the ex-girlfriend of the player in question) grabs the bottle and takes a long draw, much to the shock of everybody present. She then remarks on his abysmally low alcohol tolerance, and explains that the bottle contains tea.
  • The Wire: Jimmy McNulty has a fraught relationship with alcohol from the start, but in season five when he decides to start faking crime scenes to make it look like the deaths are the work of a Serial Killer, his descent is signalled by him going to his squad car to take a sip of whiskey first.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • ODB is known to struggle as hard for another sip from her flask as she is for another pin fall attempt against her opponents, especially in TNA.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Feng Shui, the iconic Renegade Cop character was a hard drinker who was kicked off the force. He was found drinking himself to death in a gutter, but was recruited into the heroic Dragons and given purpose to rebuild his life. He was notable for his hip flask that he would still take a swig from even in a gunfight with zombies from the future. After his death, a friend found his hip flask and tried to take a drink from it, only to find it was filled with water, and had been for a long time.

  • In William Gilette's Sherlock Holmes play, Holmes, while talking to Watson (in fact, finishing up a Sherlock Scan), produces a syringe, fills it with his beloved seven percent solution of cocaine and injects it into his left arm. As in "The Sign of the Four", Watson eventually grows embarrassed enough about Holmes's habit to ask about it, and Holmes suggests to Watson that he try it himself.
  • Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace is constantly reaching for his hip flask.
  • At the top of Act Two of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mrs. Teavee — who has previously admitted that dealing with her Enfant Terrible son Mike requires her to "pour a shot of 'Mommy Water'" for herself each day — pulls a hip flask from her purse as he runs amok amongst the other members of the Golden Ticket tour group to attempt this. But Willy Wonka notices and tells her that there's to be no alcohol on the tour; she tells him that the flask contains "homemade lemonade". After sampling it, he gives the flask back to her and says "You must give me the recipe!"

    Video Games 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • Detective Jake Marshall regularly takes swigs from his hip-flask to punctuate his speech.
    • Godot and his coffee don't really seem to apply to this trope, at least until you learn exactly why he drinks so much.
  • Final Fantasy X: Auron, although being dead, it probably doesn't have an effect on him.
  • Eternal Darkness: Edward Roivas starts with a flask of "liquid courage" in his inventory; quick nips raise his sanity.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Officer Boles is seen taking a nip from a flask as Joker is taken to his cell. This turns out to be important later.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the scout and his crit-o/Bonk cola seems to be like this. While it is important, he only takes a quick second to drink it. The demoman will also do this with his bottle, and some other things like a frying pan, so you wonder if he really just gets drunk by breathing.
    • Or he might just already be so staggeringly drunk that he thinks he's drinking from a bottle, not a frying pan.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has the Classic Pack/ Courier's Stash DLC item, the Vault 13 canteen. While in the player's inventory, the Courier will take periodic swigs from it. Possibly subverted, because it contains plain-old water, which, in Hardcore mode, helps slow down the effects of dehydration. While helpful it's not enough to survive alone as it works on a 5 minute timer to give 15 hit points and reduce dehydration by 25 points.
  • Oghren, the party berserker from Dragon Age: Origins, has, as his special equip item, "One for the ditch" - a canteen filled with a liquid that, per the description, smells foul - as does Oghren, on occasion.
  • Warcraft III has this as the Idle Animation for the Human Footman unit. And anyone who shares it's animation set, most notably, Captain Falric. Most notably, in-engine cutscenes do not disable idle animations, so sooner or later he's going to end up deciding to take a quick swig in the middle of an otherwise dramatic moment.
  • Max Payne and those pills he uses as Bottled Heroic Resolve, which by the third and so far final installment in the trilogy have become a career-ruining substance abuse problem along with the alcohol he uses to self-medicate for PTSD.

  • No matter what he's doing, as long as he's in a semi-private place (like his office), Sanderson of Something*Positive is always, always seen with whiskey in his hand. Davan can sometimes be seen with a hip flask, which he once left unattended for several months, leading to his roommate, father, and foster sister accidentally mixing him a Gargle Blaster.
  • Subverted in Three Panel Soul. Ian gets a hip flask just to fill it with Tic-Tacs.
  • Faye in Questionable Content does this when she's heading into full-blown alcoholism. It's when her boss and friend Dora catches her doing it at work that she fires Faye on the spot, sending Faye into a spiral of binge-drinking that lands her in hospital. Faye never drinks again (except for falling off the wagon for one evening), and her life soon starts to turn around for the better.

    Web Video 
  • In RedLetterMedia's "Best of the Worst: Future War, The Jar, and White Fire" has Mike Stoklasa take not-so-quick nips from a giant novelty flask. In one of the outtakes he drinks far too much, collapses, and trips out on booze.

    Western Animation