Molotov Cocktail

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Do not attempt to drink this cocktail.
A drink to go with the food
—Finns, World War II

AKA petrol bomb or people's grenade, a simple Improvised Weapon for all your asymmetric warfare needs. Brilliant in its simplicity: a glass bottle full of gasoline (or very high-proof alcohol, and even turpentine in some cases), and a burning rag on the bottleneck, thrown at the enemy.

In Video Games the effect of the heat is usually ignored. May be shown to be a bottle of alcohol with a flaming handkerchief stuffed inside.

It's also common to be an Improvised Weapon by raiding a local bar or liquor cabinet. But it should be noted that only the highest proof drinks would be of any effectiveness. So actual cocktail drinks wouldn't work, only harder alcohol like vodka or rum (and these will only bring grief to the most lightly clothed of foes).

Popular in guerrilla warfare and riots. Common way to Kill It with Fire.

For a person who uses this and other handheld explosives or incendiaries as a Weapon of Choice, see Throw Down the Bomblet.

Not to be confused with Molotov Cocktease.

Examples of Molotov Cocktail include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In chapter "The Land of Do-As-You-Please" of V for Vendetta as the goverment loses its grip on power, we see people preparing petrol bombs while raging about the Finger executing looters.
  • We see some of these used during the riots towards the end of Transmetropolitan.
  • An angry mob uses them while attempting to storm Shadow Hill during the "Confession" arc in Astro City.

Film[edit | hide]

  • In Hostage, Mars uses numerous of these to take down the mansion with him.
  • In Escape from New York, a cabbie lights a Molotov Cocktail and throws it at approaching Crazies. It explodes in front of them, stopping them.
  • In the 1966 movie about World War II Is Paris Burning? Frederic Joliot-Curie makes some Molotov cocktails for the French Resistance. Like a good physicist, he uses gasoline, not alcohol.
  • In the Watchmen movie, a protester in the '77 riots throws a Molotov at Archie, and Comedian jumps down and starts shooting people.
  • In October Sky the protagonist uses a Molotov to torch his launch site after being arrested for starting a forest fire. Poignant since he only had the alcohol to make rocket fuel in the first place.
  • Selena from 28 Days Later fights off the infected with Molotovs.
  • Goliath uses a couple on Ecoban soldiers in Sky Blue.
  • In 1408 John Cusack throws a Molotov (alcohol version) across the hotel room he's in to finally "kill" the room after remembering seeing this graffiti on the wall: "Burn Me Alive".
  • One of these was made in Shaun of the Dead... and its wielder was incapacitated before he could even try to use it.
  • John J. Macreedy improvises one during the final fight in Bad Day At Black Rock, using his tie as the fuse.
  • In Dogma Serendipity starts to make a Molotov Cocktail when they are being attacked by the Golgothan. She ends up not needing to use it.
  • In Critters Charlie uses this to destroy the Crite's spaceship.
  • The title character in Mikey does this to kill his dad and burn down the house after turning on all the gas in the house.
  • A man uses one against a War Machine in a flashback sequence in 9. It fails and he dies in a just offscreen hail of machine gun bullets.
  • The eventual use of the 'fire' in Sucker Punch.
  • In the Korean film |The Host, one character has a whole bag of Molotov Cocktails, using one cocktail to light the next.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Death World 2, Jason uses these, except that this is far in the future and they are known as 'molotails'.
  • The technothriller novel Vortex by Larry Bond features South African partisans fighting against a Soviet-backed invasion with souped-up Molotov Cocktails using soap flakes to convert the gasoline into a sticky napalm-like substance.
  • Shows up in Night Watch by Terry Pratchett: after Vimes and some of his men search the Secret Police headquarters, they put a couple Molotov cocktails through the windows of the building.
  • Steal This Book and Freedom Fighters Guide, the former a guide for the counterculture, the latter a CIA-funded pamphlet both feature directions to how to create and use Molotov cocktails.
  • The TL-191 Alternate History series by Harry Turtledove has them called Featherston Fizzes, named after the Confederate Hitler analogue Jake Featherston, as they're first used by Confederate resistance fighters in parts of the CSA occupied by the USA after World War I.
  • Used here and there in The Tomorrow Series, essentially a story about a gang of geurilla fighters. Cocktails are mentioned as being used whenever the group needs some Stuff Blowing Up.
  • Mavis in The Eye of the Pyramid refers to George Dorn to as someone who jacks off to a diagram of a molotov cocktail.
  • Used in Changes, book 12 of The Dresden Files, by two of Harry's enemies. They don't succeed in killing him, but his apartment building is completely destroyed. (Including his lab with the wicked cool 'voodoo doll of the entire city', dammit!)
  • Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book features a section on the making of/use of Molotov cocktails.
  • Frank Yerby's novel The Voyage Unplanned mentions that in World War II, the protagonist used pre-made Molotov cocktails designed to look like innocent bottles of champagne. There was no wick; the fuel was ignited by a capsule of sulfuric acid inside the bottle reacting to a potassium chlorate mixture soaked into the "label" glued to the outside. Bottle breaks, capsule breaks, acid and potassium chlorate come into contact, BURN BABY BURN! Weapons of this design were historically used by the Polish Resistance, but the hero of The Voyage Unplanned was an OSS officer in France.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

[a Molotov Cocktail smashes on the table, setting the place afire]

  • These are part of the makeshift arsenal that Warmington's sea platoon has in the early episodes of Dads Army
  • Due South episode "Gift of the Wheelman."

Fraser: [jumps down from above, surprising Porter, who whips out a Molotov Cocktail and a lighter]

  • Third Watch episode "Spanking the Monkey." A pyromaniac throws a Molotov Cocktail into a nightclub.
  • Burn Notice had Fiona use these to ward off thugs. She needed some type of weapon and improvised with a liquor cabinet.
  • In the original miniseries V, little old Ruby throws a Molotov into a Visitor craft, saying, "This one's for Abraham," her friend whom the Visitors killed.
  • In the season 1 finale of Lost, Michael's raft is blown up by a Molotov. We don't know the name of the Other who threw it, so she is known on Lostpedia as "Molotov Woman."
  • MythBusters used one of these on a ship to conclude the busted "Archimedes Death Ray" and proved that the cocktail can still be a dud if it isn't given proper conditions to spread out. It required a second cocktail and a strong wind to be effective.
  • Randy's house in The Wire got torched by two thugs armed with Molotovs after he had told the police details about a gang killing.
  • In The Young Ones, Vyvyan uses one of these to shut Rik and Neil up.

Vyvyan: It's funny, but being ill makes me lose my usual tolerant and easygoing approach to communal living (lobs it across the landing, into the other's bedroom).

  • Used in Seven Periods With Mr Gormsby, not literally but in a memorable scene when Steve asks Mr Gormsby, "Did you teach 5F to make Molotov cocktails?" Gormsby replies, "Of course! How else can they fully understand the Russian Revolution?"
  • In Deadliest Warrior, this was one of the weapons selected to represent The Mafia in the Mafia vs Yakuza episode. The tests showed it capable of engulfing a car in flames within seconds, though it proved to be ineffective in the actual five on five battle, garnering only two kills out of a thousand computer simulations.
  • In the Doctor Who serial "The Seeds of Doom", Scorby creates some Molotov cocktails to use against the Kyrnoid, a Man-Eating Plant.
  • In the episode "Burning House of Love" of True Blood, three rednecks use molotovs to torch the house where three vampires are resting for the day.
  • The episode "Swan Song" of Supernatural had Castiel use a Holy Fire Molotov to torch Michael. Lucifer however was not pleased with this.
  • Review with Myles Barlow: In the episode where Myles roadtests acceptance by joining a biker gang, he uses a Molotov cocktail to burn down the headquarters of a rival gang.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena invents the Molotov cocktail in the episode "Warrior...Princess".
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather," after talking with a rival gang (asian in origin) on a tip from a U.S. Mint employee. Monk sits down in exhaustion when he tried to get the gang leader to settle for 100 pushups but failed. Then a molotov cocktail is thrown inside the gym and the gang is forced to evacuate alongside Monk and Sharona. Monk is later blamed by this by the FBI agent in charge of the investigation.
  • Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files once used a Molotov cocktail to torch the Criminal of the Week's getaway car.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Dead Prez "Police State"

I throw a Molotov cocktail at the precinct, you know how we think

  • The Coup "Pork and Beef"

If you got beef with the C-O-P's, throw a Molotov at the P-I-G's

The Molotov Cocktail is the local drink, and all she wants to do is dance, dance
Mix 'em up right in the kitchen sink, and all she wants to do is dance...

  • Chumbawamba's "Rebel Code" as per the liner notes, is about "Two revolutionary inventions from Finland ... the molotov cocktail and the Linux computer operating system" and "It must be the cold weather. or the Vodka."

Changing everything that they were taught: alcohol and fire and ones and naughts. Something in the water and the bones -- rebel code.

I got a Molotov cocktail with a match to go
I smoke my cigarette with style

  • The Offspring's song "Hand Grenades" is about these, going so far as to have the lyrics describe how to make one.

Let's make hand grenades, hours of fun in a little jar!
Let's make hand grenades, try one out on your neighbor's car!

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • They get their own special rules in GURPS. They're very powerful for improvised weapons but also extremely unreliable.
  • Advanced Dungeons and Dragons has Greek Fire / Alchemist's Fire (depending on the edition, which ignites upon being exposed to air. Though in a pinch, lantern oil does the job.
  • In Paranoia, Bouncy Bubble Beverage cans explode if you shake them hard enough, which comes in handy if you don't have clearance to use real grenades.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Project Zomboid: One of the weapons you can craft in the game.
  • In Myth - The Fallen Lords, dwarves throw these. They make excellent weapons against the slow-moving Thrall (undead warriors), as well as can set off other explosives. However, they are unreliable, especially in rain or snow, do friendly fire, have a tendency to bounce off things and sometimes roll back towards the thrower, and are generally affected by the detailed physics, so may be unexpectedly tossed in a new direction - sometimes very strongly - by other explosions nearby, before blowing up. They aren't exactly molotovs, being explosive but not setting things on fire and often referenced as being filled with powder.
  • Resident Evil Zero features them, as fire is the best way to deal with the Leech Zombies. Later on, Napalm Grenades serve the same function in a more efficient manner.
  • In Left 4 Dead molotovs are best used as barriers against large numbers of charging zombies. The fire instantly kills regular infected, though their flaming, screaming bodies often run a bit further before collapsing. A Tank set on fire by one will die of fire damage in around a minute and a half - in Expert difficulty, due to the incredible resilience of Tanks, the best strategy is generally to ignite him and run like hell. Hunters used to do considerably more damage when ignited by one, until it was changed in a patch. There's also an achievement called Burn the Witch, which is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • The protagonist in Gun can use "whiskey bombs," which are basically whiskey bottles with flaming bits of rag in the tops. Given that you also drink whiskey to regain health, it's a bit worrisome.
  • Grand Theft Auto likes Molotovs too.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features a mission where you have to torch a house with Molotovs (and then battle your own flames, to save a girl you trapped inside without knowing she was in there). Later on in the game, pedestrians riot and throw molotovs around, including at you.
    • Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars allows you to make your own.
    • As is typical of the game, Grand Theft Auto IV takes a more realistic (but less fun) approach to them than previous installments. The actual fire caused by the weapon is generally contained to a pretty small area, and you have to get more or less a direct hit in order to effectively light a person or vehicle.
  • The Saints Row games all feature them as a throwable weapon. The throwing range, area of affect, and damage are usually upgradable. As with the GTA example above, once the player unlocks the ability to be fireproof, they can be used very effectively with little risk.
  • The Goonies II video game had these as one of your character's weapons.
  • In Call of Duty: World at War, the Russians' secondary grenade weapons are these. They're pretty pretty damn effective too.
    • Are also available in multiplayer. But their slow travel speed after throwing, exploding on impact (thus, you usually need to you to expose yourself to make sure you can hit something with them, while frag grenades can be instead cooked and throw around corners with less risk), generally only killing with a near-direct hit - makes them unpopular there.
    • Black Ops also used this in the Vorkuta mission in the campaign.
      • Though the Wii version removed them and replaced them with regular grenades, as well as turning the shrapnel catapult into a flaming crossbow.
  • Command & Conquer Generals, the GLA has the unit "Angry Mob," which is initially equipped with pistols and rocks, but can be ubgraded to wield AK's and Molotovs. Effective against buildings.
    • In Red Alert 3, Russian Conscripts can switch between AK's and Molotovs to alternate between anti-infantry and anti-garrison warfare.
  • Max Payne uses Molotovs on many an occasion.
  • Red Faction allows the player to unscrew the fuel tank for the flamethrower and use it as a makeshift Molotov.
  • A staple in Worms, useful for creating flaming pits of death.
  • Used in Dead Rising. One boss even uses them as his main attack. Once you "kill" him, you can save his life and he will return the favor by making them for you.
  • In The Nameless Mod characters with a high demolitions skill (pretty much useless in the base game) can make Molotov cocktails out of alcohol (also useless[1]) and various chemicals
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, the Juggler job can throw Molotov cocktails as an attack, dealing fire damage and driving the target berserk.
    • Also done in its GBA incarnation.
  • The 2008 Alone in the Dark emphasizes improvised fire-based weapons, like aerosol can flamethrowers and Molotovs.
  • The Molotovs in Freedom Fighters are often better than the grenades: they're a guaranteed kill and the enemy doesn't have a chance to run away.
  • A little known game called Iron Grip: Warlord used them as weapons. The heat flare was spectacular. And the damage dealt was usually a one-shot kill.
  • The Godfather: The Game has them. Notable in that if you decide not to use them, you put bottle back inside your Hammerspace shirt. While the rag is still on fire.
  • In Arcanum Moltov's are the first item that can be made by the explosives discipline and are, unless you cross train with electricity, the only damaging explosive until the end of the tree.
  • In Metal Slug, Molotovs can be picked up in certain stages under the alternate name "Fire Bomb". They often appear at oppurtune moments where you're about to run into several crowded groups of infantry.
  • Possibly the most effective ones seen in a video game is Far Cry 2. It takes place in the grasslands of Africa, and if the wind is going when you throw one... you're enemies will be greeted by a literal firewall. Good as a distraction, while you sneak somewhere.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake can acquire these (although they are referenced by their more technical name, "petrol bomb"), mostly during Act 1. While you can also obtain and use standard incendiary grenades, which have more power, Molotovs trade the power for increased range, although damaging explosives in general seem useless in the game in harder difficulties.
  • C-dogs, the sequel to the freeware DOS game Cyberdogs by Ronny Wester, has Molotovs as a selectable weapon. They cannot bounce, but the flames that spread will do incredible damage to anything that they touch.
  • In Psychonauts, it turns out that Boyd Cooper, a.k.a. the Milkman, one of the inmates in the insane asylum area, was brought in after using a Molotov to burn down the department store he worked as a security guard at for firing him. After a dive into his mind to get him to remember a... job he had to do to make him open the asylum gate, well, he goes in carrying a basket of bottles, and...

Raz: Hey, is that milk regular kind, or the exploding dream kind?
Boyd: It's fortified with what the world wants! What the world deserves!

  • BioShock (series) has an enemy, the Nitro Splicers, who throw either Molotov cocktails or firecrackers depending on where you encounter them.
    • You can also make your own by using the Incinerate plasmid on a bottle of alcohol and then Telekinesis to throw it at an enemy.
  • Molotov cocktails appear in the Fallout series as a type of grenade, subject to all the uselessness of that class of weapon.
  • Creating one of these using a paper bag and a bottle of hair tonic is part of the solution to the last puzzle in Leisure Suit Larry goes Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places). Just remember to be very careful with your syntax.
  • In Lifeline, you need one to get past the first boss. But first, you have to find the ingredients for it... and, more importantly, suggest it to Rio during a cutscene conversation. Good luck pronouncing it in a way that the verbal recognition software understands!
  • Red Dead Redemption calls them Fire Bottles.
  • The Fan Prequel Space Quest: 0 had this as a solution to one of the puzzles. Towel, lighter, and half a bottle of Coldsaurian Brandy, an extremely strong, extremely disgusting liquor.
  • In the first mission of StarCraft 2 if you destroy all of the Dominion holo-boards the civilians will revolt with these as their weapon of choice. Their Molotov cocktails are extremely effective against buildings.
  • Zeke, a kind of a Mook in Batman Doom who looks like a fat trucker with a big beard, uses these. The Molotovs they throw are actually pretty harmless due to their short range - as long as you keep your distance and don't walk into a fresh Molotov still burning on the ground (they disappear after about a second), you're home free.
  • One of the weapons available in Odium. They work similarly to grenades though they do less damage, but more than make up for it by setting your opponent on fire for three turns.
  • One of the soldier's default abilities in Brink, it's mainly used for knocking over groups of enemies.
  • Usable in a weapon in Jagged Alliance 2; high-proof alcohol is sold in any number of bars, and rags are Commonplace Rare but comparatively easy to acquire (knife + t-shirt). They make for very effective area-denial weapons, particularly as the explosion is roughly comparable to that of a mini-grenade, and the flaming puddle burns for four or five turns straight.
  • The Holy Water in the Castlevania games operate in a very similar manner to Molotov cocktails, where, upon the holy water container breaking from the impact, it causes a fire.


Western Animation[edit | hide]


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The first recorded use of these was in the Spanish Civil War.
  • These were named in the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union. You see, the Soviets had been bombing Finnish cities, but Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov insisted that the USSR was just airdropping "food aid" to the starving Finns. The Finns, in a fit of Gallows Humor, started calling the bombs "Molotov bread-baskets", and then started calling the glass firebombs they lobbed at the Soviet ground forces "Molotov cocktails"--"a drink to go with the meal!" Significantly, the Finnish Molotov cocktails were originally filled with high-proof denatured alcohol manufactured by the state liquor monopoly Alko (which still exists), and were equipped with a slow match bound to the outside rather than a burning rag for more reliable ignition.
    • These weapons were then used by the Russians against the Germans starting sometime around Stalingrad.
  • Note that these weapons are generally useless on most modern tanks. On a diessel tank, the fuel can't possibly burn hot enough to ignite the engine. On a gas turbine, the engine is actually hotter in normal operation than the fuel can possibly burn. It is actually fatal for intantry to ride on top of the engine of a modern tank.
  • Used extensively by the rebels during the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 and the Prague Spring of 1968.
  • Not used all that often by the Palestinians during the Intifada, partly due to shortages of gasoline due to the Israeli blockade, partly due to the fact that people throwing Molotovs are far more likely to get shot than people throwing rocks.
  1. Despite the abundance it is only used twice in the beginning of the game to grease the same character into providing some background information.