Existing research suggests that college students engage in concerning rates of high-risk drinking, including binge drinking, often resulting in significant alcohol related problems. The relationship between high-risk drinking and motives for alcohol use has been extensively explored in the literature, with findings suggesting that certain drinking motives are associated with dangerous drinking patterns. However, there is a great need to identify possible individual risk factors that may be associated with the development of drinking motives and high-risk drinking behavior. Recently, research has begun focusing on the relationship between individual factors, such as emotional intelligence, and alcohol use. The aim of the present research study was to investigate the relationship between high-risk drinking (i.e. binge drinking and alcohol related problems), drinking motives, and perceived and performance-based emotional intelligence (EI) in a college sample. The sample included 375 college students from colleges and universities in the United States. Participants completed an online survey which included a demographic questionnaire, the Schutte Self-Report Emotional Intelligence Test (Schutte, Malouff, Hall, Haggerty, & Cooper, 1998), the Situational Test of Emotion Management-Brief (McCann & Roberts, 2008), the Drinking Motives Questionnaire-Revised (Cooper, 1994), the Rutgers Alcohol Problems Inventory-23 (White & Labouvie, 1989), the Perceived Stress Scale-10 (Cohen & Williamson, 1988), and open-response items related to binge drinking behavior. Statistical analyses included hierarchical and multiple regression as well as four parallel mediation analyses. Results indicated that perceived and performance-based EI are significantly associated with drinking motives and high-risk drinking, however, the strength and direction of these relationships depends upon the model of emotional intelligence examined. Specifically, lower performance-based EI was associated with higher scores on all drinking motives (i.e. enhancement, social, coping, conformity) and alcohol related problems, while higher scores on perceived EI was associated with greater enhancement and social motives and greater binge drinking frequency. Parallel mediation analyses indicated that coping and conformity motives help explain some of the relationships between EI and the high-risk drinking variables (i.e. binge drinking frequency and alcohol related problems). Implications of these results, as well as limitations of the study, are discussed.