Borgs: Inside TikTok's Favorite College Party Drink

The college years are filled with new friends, learning opportunities, parties — and now, borgs? Yes, you read that right. We're talking about the popular drinking trend on your TikTok FYP that's all the rage across American college campuses. You've heard of jungle juice, beer funnels, and keg stands, but now there's a new fad involving a plastic gallon water jug and just a few ingredients.

"Borg" stands for "blackout rage gallon," and it's described as a hack to drink a lot without feeling awful the next day. No one likes a hangover, so Gen-Z started thinking ahead and came up with a way that puts safety as a top priority while drinking. The classic red Solo cup may be going out of style, and borgs are in. Though borgs have become a favorite among party-going college students, some still worry about the potential dangers this method of binge drinking can bring. Let's take a look inside the jug. 

What's in a borg?

A borg is essentially your own personal drink you can bring to a party, and it's supposedly meant to be hangover-proof. Many college students bring their borgs to events where they plan on drinking for long periods of time, like tailgates. The recipe is quite simple. In a plastic gallon water jug, you pour out about half the water (you can do yourself a favor and drink the rest of the water later). Then, you fill the jug with a liquor of your choice (typically vodka), add a fruity flavoring like Mio or Kool-Aid, a caffeinated beverage, and top it off with powdered hydration multipliers that contain electrolytes like Liquid I.V. 

The rules for borg-making are pretty loose. Some people choose to go for natural fruit juices instead of artificial flavoring, and some leave out the caffeine. The amount of alcohol you put in a borg is up to you, but there are some people using an entire fifth of vodka, 750 milliliters, or 16 shots. Others use about half the bottle. The mixture of water and electrolytes is meant to keep you hydrated during a long day of drinking. The most important step, however, is naming your borg something punny and writing it on your jug to claim it as yours. Some of the best examples include Leborg James, Borger King, and Spongeborg.

When did the borg trend start?

Though no one really knows who made the first borg, one of the earliest borg videos dates back to 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic. As large indoor gatherings became unsafe, outdoor parties grew more popular once students were permitted back on campuses. Borgs became a more sanitary option as people could drink out of their own jug instead of everyone sharing a jungle juice punch bowl. 

Now, the borg hashtag has over 70 million views on TikTok, and many users are sharing how they make their borgs and the creative borg names they come up with. There is even a group of people who started an LLC called Borg Szn (Borg Season) selling borg-themed apparel like hats, hoodies, sweatshirts, pants, and t-shirts. 

Millennials on TikTok are also impressed with what Gen-Z has come up with, reminiscing on their own past drinking experiences. User @positivelylarson shares in her video how the parties she went to had coolers or empty trash cans filled with liquor that everyone would drink from. "There were literally empty trashcans...and who knows if they actually cleaned out the trashcan before dumping all the liquor in there?" she recalls. 

Why drink a borg?

Many people consider the borg to be a smarter and safer way to drink, including preventionist Erin Monroe. In her TikTok video, she shares her stance on how the borg may be a good harm reduction tool. First, you control what goes in your drink and how much.  There tends to be a lot of peer pressure when it comes to alcohol, especially in college. If you aren't a huge fan of drinking and have more of a "damp" lifestyle, no one has to know what you're drinking. For all they know, your borg could just be filled with your favorite fruit juice. 

Second, the borg is a closed container that you have with you at all times during a party, which lessens the risk of someone slipping something into your drink. Third, it's not a communal drink that everyone is drinking from, like a frat house bathtub or empty trash can. This makes it a much more sanitary drinking option. Erin also demonstrates how to make a safer borg by using half a pint of vodka rather than a fifth. Half a pint would only be four to five drinks, which is a safe amount to drink slowly over the course of six to eight hours. Just because a borg is in a gallon jug doesn't mean you need to fill the whole thing. That being said, a borg is still a form of binge drinking and can come with consequences.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The potential dangers of borgs

While borgs have been receiving praise all over Tikok, it is important to note that there are risks that come along with any form of drinking. No matter how safe the trend appears online, borgs may contain upwards of 16 drinks in one gallon, which can be seriously dangerous to consume in one night, even when mixed with water and electrolytes. Something with the word "blackout" in the name should not be taken lightly and may still give you a hangover.

Dr. Pantea Farahmand, psychiatry specialist at NYU Langone Health tells Healthline, "Whenever you advertise a 'harm reduction strategy,' it has to be one that is tested. Something like this seems incredibly dangerous. When we're thinking of quantities of drinking that are considered safe, more than two shots is not considered safe." 

She also points out the dangers of mixing caffeine and alcohol, which can cause dehydration. Mixing caffeine with alcohol can also mask the signs of impairment, leading someone to not "feel" as drunk and then drink much more, per the CDC. A borg is not something to be chugged or finished in a short period of time. If you choose to make your own borg, make sure you pace yourself and surround yourself with people you trust. No matter how you party, plan to do it safely.