A human can only live for about three days without access to water. We need to drink or we’re doomed. And while our ancient ancestors probably managed just fine with water and the odd squirt of fruit juice, we evolved to enjoy a far more diverse palate. You might even say we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to beverages these days. For evidence, just take a look at all the drinks people will consume on purpose… amazingly, without even being forced to do so.
10. End of History
The average alcohol percentage in a beer that you’ll find in the United States is about 4.5%. There are some stronger beers out there, but that is pretty standard. The Scottish Brewery known as Brewdog came up with a beer called the End of History that boasts a 55% alcohol content. And interestingly enough, that’s not why it’s interesting. The beer is actually packaged inside squirrels.
Each bottle of limited run beer was inside of a taxidermied squirrel. The company initially released 12 in the UK, and then 10 more bottles were released for Americans.The price per bottle in the United States was $20,000. Technically that wasn’t the price of the beer itself; rather, if you invested $20,000 in their business you would get one of the 10 extremely rare bottles.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention and that idea was clearly hard at work when pruno was invented. Pruno, otherwise known as prison wine, is what you get when you’re desperate for a buzz but your ingredients and facilities are extremely limited.
Since all that is really needed to create alcohol is some kind of sugary base that can ferment, prisoners were able to develop ways to create alcohol behind bars in secret. The resulting concoction is known as pruno, and it’s one of the most vile drinks ever created.
Ingredients are very limited in prison, which means pruno is often made of things like fruit cocktail, sugar cubes, and ketchup. Everything is mixed together in a ziplock bag and hidden where the prison guards can’t find it. The fermentation process could take a few weeks and you’ll have to find some way to warm your mixture up, strain out all the chunks, and then enjoy the potentially lethal byproducts. The resulting mixture can contain all manner of dangerous bacteria including botulism, not to mention there’s no way to know just how alcoholic the brew might be so it could be dangerously potent as well.
8. Sourtoe Cocktail
If you’re going to list culinary taboos, you can jump right to the head of the line by mentioning cannibalism. There are few things people are willing to entertain less than the idea of consuming the body parts of another human being. And yet despite that, the sourtoe cocktail is still a thing.
Arguably the most infamous drink in all of Canada, you can find the sourtoe cocktail in Dawson City, Yukon. The name isn’t particularly metaphorical. There’s a real human toe in a shot of whiskey that you can drink.
According to legend, Louie and Otto Linken were running booze back in the 1920s when they got caught in a blizzard. Louie ended up getting his foot stuck in a stream or a puddle when he stepped through some ice and by the time he got home again his foot was frozen. Worst of all was the big toe, which had thoroughly succumbed to frostbite.
In an effort to prevent any more damage, Otto cut his brother’s toe off with an axe. And, as one does, he dropped the newly severed digit into a bottle of booze. Fast forward about 50 years and a man by the name of Captain Dick Stevenson found the bottle, complete with toe, in a cabin.
Stevenson decided to create a little contest where you could gain entry into the Sourtoe Cocktail Club if you had the drink with the toe in it. The only rule is that the toe had to touch your lips. And word is that about 100,000 people have actually done this over the years.
In the year 2013, one guy actually swallowed the toe. And he wasn’t even the first one. The Downtown Hotel, where the drink is served, has gone through 15 toes so far. Captain Stevenson even willed his own toes to the hotel so that when he dies the tradition will live on. Currently, the bar has 12 toes that they rotate through circulation so they can keep them clean, whatever that might mean.
7. Spirytus Stawski
Straight out of Poland comes Spirytus Stawski, a 190-proof spirit that is 96% alcohol. That makes it the single strongest drinkable alcohol in the world. To put that in perspective, vodka is generally around 40% alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is often 70% alcohol. Even the infamous Everclear is 95% alcohol. Spirytus Stawski one-upped them with that extra percentage to ensure maximum danger.
You can buy Spirytus Stawski any number of places online, but most of them will point out in the description that this should only be used as a base for other drinks and it is highly recommended that you never drink the stuff straight, for obvious reasons. A 750ml bottle will set you back under $20.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Peru you may run across a drink known as chicha. Chicha is made from corn, and so far everything sounds okay. You can make whiskey from corn. Bourbon has a long history thanks to corn. You can even brew vodka from corn rather than potatoes, if you’re so inclined. So far so good, right?
Where chicha gets a little weird is in the preparation. If you are drinking true, traditional chicha then the fermentation process requires that the corn be chewed and then spit out. The old-timey method for making it involved several women sitting around a bucket, chewing up the corn, and then spitting it into that bucket. The saliva, along with a few other ingredients, would activate the fermentation process and eventually it would become alcoholic. There’s no real way to make that sound any better that it is, and it’s definitely an acquired taste. Weirdly enough, it’s still made this way in some parts of Peru and if you buy it from a street vendor you may not know if you’re getting the traditional kind, or a less saliva-filled brew.
5. Baby Mice Wine
In most parts of the world if you were to find a mouse in your drink you would probably have a well-justified freak out and send the drink right back. Well, that wouldn’t be the case if you ordered what’s been called a traditional Chinese health tonic that is colloquially known as baby mice wine.
Apparently these little mice are taken just after birth when their eyes aren’t even open yet and then jammed into a bottle of rice wine. They ferment along with the wine for a solid year, after which time it is said that the brew is able to treat medical conditions like liver disease and asthma. It also apparently tastes something like gasoline, which doesn’t seem unreasonable since it’s just rice wine with the rotting corpses of vermin inside of it. And yes, if you’re wondering, you are expected to actually eat the little mice afterward as well.
Theoretically, drinking milk is kind of weird if you stop to give it much thought, at least if you’re drinking the milk of a cow or some other kind of livestock. (Really, though… who was the first person to look at a cow’s udder and think, “I’m gonna go suck on that”?)
But, since we have been doing it for centuries and it’s pretty commonplace, we’re used to it. The dairy industry is massive and even if you’re not drinking milk, there’s a good chance you’re enjoying things like butter, yogurt, or ice cream. All of that stuff tends to have one thing in common, in that it’s made from purified, non-alcoholic milk.
If you were to travel around the globe to Kazakhstan you would find a beverage known as kumis, which is made from the milk of horses. Now to a western palate the idea of horse milk probably sounds a little bit weird, but it really shouldn’t if we are okay with drinking milk from cows. However, kumis takes it one step further by fermenting the milk to make it alcoholic. According to reviews it tastes like champagne and sour cream mixed together. That’s one heck of a cocktail.
Kumis has been made for thousands of years in Central Asia and apparently it’s something that both Genghis Khan and babies enjoyed drinking. You know you’re a hardcore baby when you’re drinking alcoholic horse milk on the Central Asian steppes.
The mare’s milk has a high sugar content naturally, so if you churn it the way you would churn butter it will thicken up and acidify to produce an alcoholic kind of carbonation. And as weird as this might sound, it’s actually preferable to drinking non-alcoholic mare’s milk. The milk, in its natural state, has so much lactose that it’s essentially a high-performing laxative.
3. Poop Wine
There’s no good backstory to this entry. There’s no clever reason why this thing exists. There’s just the knowledge that for some reason, at some point in time, someone fermented actual human poop into a drink and then intentionally drank it. That’s the story of poop wine.
Made from Korean rice wine mixed with the feces of a human child, the drink called Ttongsul has 9% alcohol and is 100% terrible. The concoction is apparently for medicinal use and was said to be able to heal traumatic injuries like bruises, cuts, and even broken bones.
Very few people have heard of the drink even in Korea, but there are one or two who still know the recipe and are willing to make it if you are so inclined to hunt it down. It should go without saying that there is no way this drink is good, or even tolerable.
2. Smoker’s Cough Cocktail
A lot of bars are willing to go out of their way to create signature cocktails that nobody else has on the menu. Sometimes these will be simple mixtures that maybe just have a unique name even though they are available in other locations by different names. But sometimes they are just over the top recipes that mix together ingredients that have no business being in the same place at the same time. That’s likely the story behind one of the most repellent looking and tasting cocktails ever made, the Smoker’s Cough.
The name itself is off-putting, and when you take a look at it you understand why it’s called what it’s called. There are only two ingredients in this cocktail making it deceptively simple but the two ingredients that you need are mayonnaise and Jagermeister. Even without tasting that you can try to imagine those two flavors and textures together in your mouth. If the idea was to mimic the sensation of acrid phlegm, then the person who created the cocktail is actually fairly clever and did a good job.
1. Semen Cocktails
This unsettling entry brings with it an entire recipe book. The number of people on Amazon.com who reviewed the book and described it as a gag gift may or may not be aware of the added pun in their language choice. Regardless, there is apparently some kind of market out there for drinks that are made with semen. Some of the less than impressed reviews pointed out that most of the recipes in the book are just average everyday cocktails with the secret ingredient added in for no particular reason.
While this truly sounds like a gimmick if nothing else, it’s worth knowing that New Zealand is home to the Green Man Pub in the city of Wellington. Their claim to fame is a beer that was created from stag semen. Why did this concoction even exist? Probably just to get some press for creating something utterly baffling.