Friday, July 23, 2010 , Posted by Admin at 9:40 PM
From Baby Mouse Wine... to Large Spiders & Snakes in Alcohol - All Ready to Drink! We had such a great response to our 2009 article on unusual beer flavours from different corners of the globe, so here’s a sample of some of the more unusual and occasionally bizarre alcoholic beverages from around the world. Just about every culture in the world has a traditional alcoholic drink made from the plants and other ingredients that could be found locally and some of these beverages are very old indeed. Mead, often referred to as honey wine, can range from mild ale to strong wine in terms of its alcohol content. The origins of mead are lost in the mists of time, but it appears in the history of cultures throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Some regard mead as the ancestor of all fermented drinks. Moutai, commonly referred to as China’s national liquor, was first made in China over 800 years ago: Chicha, a drink derived from maize in several South American countries is one of the oldest beverages on the planet. Chicha has probably been around for thousands of years, and was consumed by the Inca, but today traditionally prepared chicha is only produced in a handful of small towns and few villages in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica. Although maize is most commonly associated with chicha, throughout the Andes the word can also refer to numerous fermented drinks, made from other types of grains or fruit. Another old drink is pulque, a traditional Mexican alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of the maguey plant. The drink was has a long history and this monkey pulque jar dates from the Aztec period: A popular drink in Central Asia, kumis was first mentioned by Herodotus in the fifth century BC. A fermented drink made from mare’s milk, Kumis is a mild beverage, only containing up 2.5% alcohol: If alcohol mixed with horse milk isn’t exactly to your taste, how about breakfast in a bottle of booze? Bakon Vodka, produced by Black Rock Spirits of Seattle is indeed flavoured with bacon (below left). Or how about vodka with chillis (below right)? Here is an interesting "Aunt Sonya" (Kosher?) Vodka from Russia, and a pickle-ready feast with a "Birch Porch" vodka: As well as bacon as an ingredient in liquor, meat has featured for many years in bottles of Mezcal from Mexico. The worm is actually the larva of one of the moths that live on the agave plant. No one is sure where the tradition of adding the worm to the bottle came from, but it is possible that it serves to prove that the alcohol content is high enough to preserve the worm in a pickled condition. Lizard wine from China might not sound too appealing, but apparently tastes a little like brandy, improves eyesight and as a bonus can protect against evil spirits (below left). Another wine with supposed medicinal qualities, helping with everything from coughs and colds to liver disorders, is baby mouse wine from Korea (above right). Yes, it really does contain newborn baby mice, which are drowned in rice wine, before the bizarre mixture is stored somewhere dry and dark for up to a year before it is considered drinkable. Just like baby mouse wine, snake liquors from South East Asia are also considered cures for a variety of ailments, including impotence, back and muscle pain and hair loss (below left). These drinks usually contain highly poisonous snakes, such as cobras (below right): If snakes aren’t really for you, how about scorpions and spiders? This distilled rice grain vodka from Thailand, complete with a farm raised scorpion, is banana flavoured and sweetened with sugar cane (below left). This Thai rice whiskey contains a large non-venomous spider (above right) and is apparently an acquired taste. Or how about this Mekong River Eel Wine from Laos? - If you prefer your liquor devoid of creatures of any kind, Bau Da Vietnamese rice whiskey is made from plain boiled rice and comes in this rather attractive container (above right). The World’s Strongest Drinks In terms of sheer alcohol content, Everclear is considered the world’s strongest drink. A grain alcohol, Everclear can contain 95 % or 75.5 % alcohol or 190 and 151 proof respectively. Vodka tends to be 40 % alcohol or 80 proofs. Drinkers rarely consume Everclear on its own and it is usually only used as an ingredient in cocktails: Bacardi 151 (above right) has an alcohol content of 75.5% or 151-proof and is also used in cocktails. The spirit is flammable and used in flaming drinks such as B-52’s. Bacardi also really do use a flame arrester on the bottle. Raicilla is often called Mexican Moonshine and is usually more than 100 proof. It is generally known as a homegrown version of tequila or other similar Mexican drinks, but has begun to be produced commercially in recent years. Absinthe is another highly alcoholic beverage, with an alcohol content of between 45% and 74%. An anise-flavoured spirit derived from herbs, Absinthe is usually green, but can also be colourless. Because of its strength it is usually diluted with water. Absinthe originated in Switzerland and became very popular in late nineteenth and early twentieth Paris among artists and writers, who were all thought to be fans of ‘the green fairy’, as the drink was often known. Absinthe spoons originated at that time, used to dissolve a sugar cube in a glass of absinthe to sweeten it and take away some of the bitterness. Such spoons, some of which had logos or brand names on them, are now collector’s items: By 1915, absinthe had been banned in many countries as an addictive drug, mostly due to presence of small amounts of thujone, blamed for the harmful effects of drinking absinthe. However, there appears to be scant evidence that absinthe is any more dangerous than other spirits. In the 1990’s, several European countries began making absinthe again. Here are a few examples of absinthe from the Czech Republic, which often have a high alcohol content and there’s even a cannabis flavoured brand. If you’re interested in sampling any of these mind boggling strong drinks, or indeed any of the above weird concoctions, maybe your drink could be served in a bottle like this one, which is possibly especially designed for taking shots: Here is a flask disguised as binoculars... to see double, or doubly clear? So there you are, a look at the weird, the wonderful, the unusual and the plain bizarre liquors of the world. Cheers! Drink responsibly. You know.