Cooter Brown, sometimes given as Cootie Brown, is a name used in metaphors and similes for drunkenness, mostly in the Southern United States. Cooter Brown supposedly lived on the line which divided the North and South during the American Civil War, making him eligible for military draft by either side. He had family on both sides of the line, so he did not want to fight in the war. He decided to get drunk and stay drunk for the duration of the war so that he would be seen as useless for military purposes and would not be drafted. Ever since, colloquial and proverbial ratings of drunkenness have been benchmarked against the legendary drinker: "as drunk as Cooter Brown" or "drunker than Cooter Brown."
A different source offers the following:
"This is an African American expression very familiar to the informant, who is from New Jersey. She says it is current and, so far as she knows, it 'came up with the African Americans from the Carolinas.' She thinks it probably derives from some proverbial drunkard."
1 Another version,
2 An educational version,
3 Other uses,
Another version of the Cooter Brown story: Cooter Brown was a biracial man (Half Cherokee, Half Black) who lived in south Louisiana on a small plot of land given to him by an old Cajun fur trapper. Cooter lived alone in the old Cajun's shack. When the Civil War broke out, Cooter didn't want to choose sides, because he didn't know who might win. He didn't like people much and was fearful of either side. Because of this, Cooter, who was a heavy drinker anyway, began drinking all the time. Cooter always dressed like an Indian so as to confirm the fact that he was an Indian and not a Negro. And as such, he was a free man. Whenever soldiers (Yanks or Rebels) showed-up in the area they would always find him drunk. Often he'd offer the soldiers a drink. Word began to spread about the crazy, drunken Indian named Cooter Brown. By the time the war ended, Cooter couldn't stop drinking if he had wanted to. One night his shack caught fire and burned completely to the ground. When locals investigated the burned site the next day there was nothing that remained of Cooter's body. They surmised that old Cooter had so much alcohol in him that he had just burned up. Since then Cooter Brown has been synonymous with inebriety.
In some variations of the tale, the name is spelled Kuta Brown, and he had recently emigrated from Texas.
An educational version:
During Prohibition, Miami, FL's "Barracuda" Brown became nationally infamous for regularly imbibing 10 shots of rum at a local bar and comically staggering home to his poor wife. If "Cuda" weighed 200 lb., and each shot of rum contained 1 ounce of alcohol, and his liver could neutralize only 1 ounce of alcohol per hour, and he downed the 10 shots in only 2 hours, and the effect of alcohol is proportionate to a person's body weight, then how many shots would a man whose weight equals the hour hand on your clock times 10 (e.g., 3pm = 15 x 10 = 150 lb) have to drink before becoming "drunker than Cuda Brown"?
An 80 Proof blended whiskey bottled by the Gatlinburg Barrelhouse in Gatlinburg, Tennessee bears the name "Genuine Cooter Brown Blended Whiskey."
Also referenced by Southern rapper Bubba Sparxxx in his song "Hootnanny" -- "I'm as drunk as Cooter Brown"
Another sports bar in Pensacola, Florida, bears the same name.
A restaurant in Johnson City, Tennessee also bears the name "Cootie Brown's".
Jazz singer Cassandra Wilson names on her album 'Belly of the Sun' a song title to Cooter Brown.
Houston rapper Devin The Dude has a song named 'Cooter Brown' off his album To Tha X-Treme
North American old-timey band Who Hit John has a track titled "Cooter Brown" on their album Heirloom.
A "Biker Friendly Bar" in Burleson, Texas. It also bears the name "Cooter Brown's." Known hangout of the "Just cuz I can" crew.
On the McLaughlin Group blog, "the cooter syndrome" was defined (5/18/2010 11:51:00 AM) as: "combining two topics together and then blaming the poster for bringing them up." This practice was developed by a Couter using the alias Couterintuitive who made racist posts and defended them by blaming others in this way.
A tavern, grill and oyster bar at the riverbend in the Uptown district of New Orleans bears the name "Cooter Brown's"
A bar in Altamonte Springs, FL.
Slang term for hot chick or beautiful woman. Example: Dang look at that Cooter Brown over there.
Known site of impromptu boxing matches in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Referenced in the country song "Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll" by Keith Anderson. "...Laugh while ev'rybody's gettin drunk as Cooter Brown"
The North Carolina Celtic punk band My Three Kilts wrote a song called Cooter Brown. They frequently perform it at their shows.
A bar in Frankfort Kentucky is called Cooter Brown's Bar