World’s weirdest alcoholic drinksBy Lauren Eads
From baby mice rice wine infusions to sparkling birch sap wine, we round up some of the world’s weirdest alcoholic concoctions.
Most of us would take a crisp Riesling or juicy Shiraz over the afore mentioned beverages any day.
But perhaps the greatest quality of alcohol, not always for the better, is that it can be made, in its simplest forms, out of pretty much anything, given a little time, sugar and yeast.
Prisoners have been known to whip up illicit batches of hooch in their cell using smuggled fruit and sugar, while the Inuits, so desperate for a drop of juice, created a “wine” made from dead seagull.
But while some of the drinks on this list are unashamedly revolting, others are merely a little off-piste in their direction, making up an eclectic list of weird and wonderful beverages.
Scroll through to see some of the most unusual concoctions the drinks world has to offer…
Birch sap wine
A staple in any keen forest foragers repertoire, birch sap wine is not as odd as it might first sound. The sap itself, extracted from Birch trees during a very short, two-week harvesting period in mid-March, is slightly sweet containing sugars, proteins, amino acids, and enzymes. It can be used to make a variety of foods including syrup, much in the same way as maple syrup, and for the more adventurous, wine. It’s made by heating the sap with sugar, yeast and lemons and letting it ferment over a five day period.
And its not just wild foraging types who are making Birch sap wine. Winemakers at Sav in Jämtland, Sweden, produce a sparkling Birch sap wine which is said to taste of “citrus, some sour dough bread and nuts” with a “long, slightly nutty balanced aftertaste of forest, fungus, herbs and apples” – a recipe that dates back to 1785.
Rose petal wine
Commissioned by the Royal National Rose Society, Britain’s Lurgashall Winery, which incidentally also makes a Birch sap wine, produces a rather lovely pink-hued wine infused with handpicked rose petals. Described as an “intensely aromatic rosé”, this medium-dry wine is said to be reminiscent of Turkish Delight. The winery recommends drinking it on its own or mixing with Cava, or perhaps even Champagne.
Among the many odd flavoured beers out there is Mamma Mia’s Pizza Beer, developed in 2006 by Tom and Athena Seefurth out of their home brewery in Illinois. As explained on the couple’s website, the brewing process literally involves mashing up an entire pizza, putting it into the mash and steeping it “like a tea bag”.
“A whole wheat crust made with water, flour and yeast is topped with tomato, oregano, basil and garlic. The essence of the pizza spices is washed off with hot water and filtered into a brewpot, where it is boiled for a long, long time,” the couple said.
“During the process, we add hops and spices in a cheesecloth type bag & filter the cooled liquid into a fermentation vessel (big glass six gallon water jug). After a week or two, the beer is good to go. Keg it or bottle it.”
Snake and scorpion wine
This particularly horrifying concoction is made by infusing whole snakes, and sometimes the odd scorpion, in rice wine or grain alcohol and leaving it to ferment. It was first recorded to have been consumed in China during the Western Zhou dynasty and like many of the more unusual beverages to come out of Asia, its consumption is said to bring about healing properties capable of reinvigorating a person, according to traditional Chinese medicine.
The snakes used are invariably venomous preserved for their “essence”, with any venom thankfully dissolved in the liquor and made harmless. The Huaxi street night market of Taipei, Taiwan, is known for its snake foods and wine products.
Earlier this year a woman in northern China had to receive hospital treatment after a particularly hardy snake preserved in rice wine jumped out of the bottle and bit her hand.
Reindeer antler whiskey
This traditional rice grain Thai whiskey is made by infusing actual reindeer antlers, ginseng roots and other special medicinal herbs in a large clay pot for several months, after which it is filtered and bottled. Reindeer antlers are believed to increase virility and improve wellbeing, while in some south east Asian circles, it is believed consuming them will bring you higher social status.
The spirit is said to have a “rich earthy finish with a woody aroma”, and a slight “sweet taste with a hint of liquorice”.
Three penis liquor
Perhaps taking the prize for the most bizarre drink on this list is “Tezhi Sanbian Jiu,” which roughly translates to “Three-Penis Liquor”.
It is made by brewing seal penis, deer penis and Cantonese dog penis to produce a Chinese rice wine which is also a traditional medicine believed to impart male potency and virility to the drinker.
Bottles of Tezhi Sanbian Jiu can apparently be found in supermarkets across Shanghai.
Bakon bacon flavoured vodka
Happily less unpleasant than our previous entry, but odd nonetheless, is Bakon’s premium bacon-flavoured vodka, launched in 2009 by Seattle-based Black Rock Spirits.
The spirit’s most commonly recommended serve is the Bakon Martini and the pickled Bakon Martini – a combination of pickle juice and Bakon vodka. This bacon-flavoured vodka sits well within a larger trend for savoury cocktails, which has seen bartenders get inventive with their garnishes incorporating increasingly envelope-pushing savoury flavours into their serves.
Since its launch the vodka has received praise from the drinks industry winning a silver medal in the 2010 Beverage World BevStar Awards, and a silver medal in the 2010 SIP Awards International Spirits Competition.
Baby mice wine
Baby mice wine is a traditional Chinese and Korean beverage made from fermented baby mice. Believed to be an effective health tonic in some quarters, particularly in rural Korea, it is made by dropping live mice, aged just two or three days old, into a bottle of rice wine where they are left to stew for around a year before consuming.
The resulting beverage is said to taste not unlike gasoline.
This delightful delicacy is said to be first invented by the Inuits and is not something the average off-licence is likely to stock. Its recipe is alarmingly straight forward; put a dead seagull into a bottle, fill it with water and leave it in the sun until it has fermented. One who purports to have tried the concoction is Suzanne Donahue who described it thusly: “If you opened up a Toyota’s Carburetor and drank the leftover fluid from inside, that would be pretty close. It goes down hard and settles in even worse. But I must say it sure gets people inebriated in a hurry. And the next day’s hangover is nothing short of spectacular. You’ll feel like you’ve been repeatedly beaten over the head by a giant…well, seagull.”
The Sourtoe cocktail, with real pickled human toe
A bar in Canada is responsible for perhaps one of the most gut-wrenchingly disgusting cocktails known to man – the Sourtoe cocktail, complete with human toe.
The Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon, has included a toe in its “Sourtoe Cocktail” as part of a tradition that dates back to the 1970s. Those who are brave enough can have the toe dropped into their drink in order to become a member of the “Sourtoe cocktail Club”. More than 50,000 people have already joined the club.
However one daring individual recently went a step further when he, in spite of a CA$500 fine for doing so, swallowed the toe down with his drink – a Yukon Jack whisky.
The bar is now on the lookout for another toe with their previous grisly garnish having been donated by a man who accidentally cut his off with a lawn mower.
Ttongsul, also known as faeces wine
Since publishing this round up it has been brought to our attention that there exists a drink made from human faeces…. We felt a list such as this couldn’t ignore such a beverage.
Ttongsul, or faeces wine, originates from Korea and is said to be made by submerging a bamboo stick in a chamber-pot which contains faeces and alcohol and leaving it there for several months to ferment, after which the mixture is removed from the bamboo stick. Another, less time-consuming method, is to simply mix alcohol with faeces for several days.
The rice wine drink all but died out in the 1960s, but was once considered an effective treatment for cuts, bruises and a host of other ailments including curing epilepsy.