At least in the film version of Return of the King, Frodo and Sam run out of water while trekking across Mordor, apparently having been unable to refill their water pouches in the tower or at any other point past there.

We know that the orcs eat regular food, but are they ever shown drinking anything besides orc draught?

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    I wonder how much water the orc armies needed in Mordor. It's not like Mordor is running with verdant streams and rivers. – RichS Feb 27 '17 at 6:54
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    Gin is my preferred drink, but I will take water if there is nothing else available – NiceOrc Mar 2 '17 at 1:49


Sam asks the same question, of whether orcs eat and drink or just live on foul air and poison, and Frodo gives him the following answer:

"No, they eat and drink, Sam. The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don't think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if they are to live at all, they have to live like other living creatures. Foul waters and foul meats they'll take, if they can get no better, but not poison. They've fed me, and so I'm better off than you. There must be food and water somewhere in this place."

-- The Return of the King, Book VI, Chapter I: The Tower of Cirith Ungol

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    They also find the cistern (with a small amount of water in it) on their way to Mount Doom in Mordor. – DonyorM Feb 27 '17 at 2:05
  • @DonyorM I thought that was a natural spring? I don't remember any indication that orcs consumed that water; in fact, wasn't there something about it being unpolluted by orcs? – Rand al'Thor Feb 27 '17 at 10:48
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    @Randal'Thor Quite contrary, it was polluted by orcs. And it was indeed a cistern; they were built in long intervals along the road. The book even mentions it was there "for troops sent hastily across the dry land" or something like that (don't have the book on hand to quote exactly). – Angew is no longer proud of SO Feb 27 '17 at 13:07


In addition to the quote provided by @Randal'Thor, there is also this:

'Water, water!' muttered Sam. He had stinted himself, and in his parched mouth his tongue seemed thick and swollen; but for all his care they now had very little left, perhaps half his bottle, and maybe there were still days to go. All would long ago have been spent, if they had not dared to follow the orc-road. For at long intervals on that highway cisterns had been built for the use of troops sent in haste through the waterless regions. In one Sam had found some water left, stale, muddied by the orcs, but still sufficient for their desperate case. Yet that was now a day ago. There was no hope of any more.
-The Return of the King, Book VI, chapter 3: Mount Doom
(emphasis mine)

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