Wine boxes, via Bandit Wines Facebook
Wine boxes, via Bandit Wines Facebook

10 Adult Spins on Kid Classics

Wine boxes, via Bandit Wines Facebook
Wine boxes, via Bandit Wines Facebook

When you grow up, you don't have to put away your childish things—you just need to soak them in alcohol. 

1. Juice Boxes

Bandit Wines packages its beverages in small cartons that are easily transported. Unscrew the top, stick in a straw, and you have your own portable wine supply. The best part is the wine is actually really good. “Because we’re able to save money on glass and cork, we have more cash to pour into the quality of our wine,” the website explains. The affordable wine comes in two sizes: 500ml and one liter, for thirstier wine aficionados. 

2. Ice Pops 

Pina Colada and Mojito pops, via LIC

Remember those pops that came in the paper tube? Now you can have those again, but a little boozier. LIC comes in two fun tropical flavors: pina colada and mojito. With an ABV of 12 percent and only 54 calories a pop, it’s clearly the perfect treat for summer.  

3. Root beer

Root Beer, via Small Town Brewery

Small Town Brewery produces a delicious alcoholic root beer. “Not Your Fathers Root Beer” tastes just like the old-fashioned cola with the faintest hint of booziness. The regular kind has an ABV of 5.9 percent, but if you want something stronger, their seasonal beers can be as strong as 19.5 percent. 

4. Air hockey

Canadian Imgur user nwawr took the classic game of air hockey and gave it a beer pong twist. By carving Solo cup sized holes in the table, players are able to drink for every goal they let past. The game has been dubbed alcohockey, and it is glorious.

5. Ice Cream 

When beer spilled near the ice cream maker at a birthday party, Emory grad Ari Fleischer was struck with inspiration. He founded The Ice Cream Bar, a company that concocts delightful ice creams and sorbets made with real alcohol. The flavors range from malted milk chocolate stout to peach lambic. And they can really get you drunk: the mojito sorbet has an ABV of 8.4 percent. 

6. Whipped Cream 

Coconut cream pie Whipahol, via Whipped Lightning

Whipped Lightning combines grain alcohol with dairy cream to make surprisingly strong "whipahol." The inventive flavors include caramel pecan, white chocolate raspberry, and coconut cream pie. The 33.5 proof treat has a bite, but tastes great on sugary shots and cocktails. Of course, you can always eat it right out of the can—we won’t judge. 

7. Cotton Candy 

iStock

Chef Michael Granata makes cotton candy with an alcoholic kick. The secret is soaking granulated sugar in spirits. After letting the booze-soaked sugar dry for two weeks, the chef puts it in a food processor, and then feeds it into a cotton candy machine. The simple process can be replicated with any alcohol of choice. So yes, Budweiser cotton candy can be a reality. The best part is that the machine doesn’t get that hot, so the candy is still alcoholic.  

8. Gummy bears 

iStock

Candy like gummy bears can be soaked in vodka with semi-decent results. After soaking for a day or so, the bears will become swollen with booze. Many news channels have condemned this trick as a method for high schoolers to get secretly tanked, but you would have to eat a lot of them to really feel the effects. 

9. Battleship

Instead of saying “You sunk my battleship,” you can shout “Shots!” This party variation of the classic Battleship game can be purchased, or you can build your own with pizza boxes. It’s up to you how big the shots are.

10. Slushies 

In 2012, Kirin developed a slushie machine that churned out frozen beer frost in their Tokyo beer garden. Now you can buy one for yourself on Amazon. If you don’t want the trouble of making it yourself, you can always catch a Dodgers game.

AND THAT BOOZY TASTE, WITHOUT THE BOOZE...

Marshmallows 

BourbonMashmallows, via Wondermade

Wondermade makes a whole slew of interestingly flavored marshmallows, but the most exciting is their line of alcoholic flavors. The current lineup features beer, gin, bourbon, and fireball. Each box comes with 16 delicious marshmallow treats—the perfect amount for eating. 

Lollipops 

Absinthe Lollypop, via Lollyphile

Lollyphile's pops are not the kind you had as a kid. In addition to flavors like sriracha and blue cheese, they also have a number of boozy flavors, including cabernet, IPA beer, and absinthe. The pops aren't actually alcoholic, but we can confirm that the wine flavors are delicious.

Gumballs

Absinthe gumballs, via ArchieMcPhee

These gumballs don’t actually contain any alcohol, but they are made to taste just like absinthe. The bright green candies contain anise, the main component of absinthe, so their taste is very convincing. 

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Big Questions
Is There Any Point in Letting Red Wine Breathe?
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by Aliya Whiteley

At the end of a long day, few things beat simple pleasures like watching a good film, eating a bar of chocolate the size of your head, or drinking a big glass of red wine.

By this point in the evening, most people don’t want to be told that they need to uncork the bottle and let the wine sit for at least 30 minutes before it becomes pleasantly drinkable. Yet that's (by the letter of the unwritten law) what you're supposed to do.

But why? Well, let's start with the assorted historical reasons.

Red wine has been around since the Stone Age. In fact, in 2011 a cave was uncovered in Armenia where the remains of a wine press, drinking and fermentation vessels, and withered grape vines were uncovered; the remains were dated at 5500 years old. Early winemaking often had a ritualistic aspect: Wine jars were found in Ancient Egyptian tombs, and wine appears in both the Hebrew and Christian bibles.

The concept of letting wine "breathe" is, historically speaking, relatively new and probably has its roots in the way wine was once bottled and stored.

Traditionally, sulfur is added to wine in order to preserve it for longer, and if too much is added the wine might well have an ... interesting aroma when first opened—the kind of "interesting aroma" that bears more than a passing resemblance to rotten eggs. Contact with the air may have helped to remove the smell, so decanting wine may once have been a way of removing unwelcome odors, as well as getting rid of the sediment that built up in the bottom of bottles.

It’s also possible that the concept springs from the early 1860s, when Emperor Napoleon III asked Louis Pasteur to investigate why so much French wine was spoiling in transit. Pasteur published his results, which concluded that wine coming into contact with air led to the growth of bacteria, thus ruining the vino. However, small amounts of air improved the flavor of the wine by "aging" it. In bottles, with a cork stopper, the wine still came into contact with a small amount of oxygen, and by storing it for years the wine was thought to develop a deeper flavor.

However, how much of that actually matters today?

Many experts agree that there is no point in simply pulling out the cork and letting the wine sit in an open bottle for any period of time; the wine won’t come into enough contact with oxygen to make any difference to the taste.

However, decanting wine might still be a useful activity. The truth is this: It entirely depends on the wine.

Nowadays we don’t really age wine anymore; we make it with the aim of drinking it quickly, within a year or so. But some types of wine that are rich in tannins (compounds that come from the grape skins and seeds) can benefit from a period of time in a decanter, to soften the astringent taste. These include wines from Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, for instance.

If you really want to know if a particular wine would benefit from being given time to breathe, try your own experiment at home. Buy two bottles, decant one, and let it breathe for an hour. Do you notice a difference in the taste? Even if you don’t, it's an experiment that justifies opening two bottles of wine.

One word of warning: No matter where a wine comes from, it is possible to overexpose it to oxygen. So remember Pasteur’s experiments and don’t leave your wine out of the bottle for days. That, friends, would be one hell of a waste.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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A Beer From the Middle Ages Is Making a Serious Comeback

Hop-forward beer is all the rage today, but in the middle ages many imbibers preferred brews that skewed towards the sweeter side. Now, centuries after it fell out of fashion, Atlas Obscura reports that gruit ale is making a comeback.

Gruit beer is any beer that features botanicals in place of hops. The ingredients that give the drink its distinctive sweet, aromatic taste can be as familiar as ginger and lavender or as exotic as mugwort and seabuckthorn. The herbs play the role of hops by both adding complex flavors and creating an inhospitable environment for harmful microbes.

It may be hard for modern beer lovers to imagine beer without hops, but prior to the 16th century gruit was as common in parts of Europe as IPAs are in hip American cities today. Then, in 1516, that style of beer suddenly vanished from pint glasses: That was the year Germany passed a beer purity law that restricted beer formulas to hops, water, and barley. Many of the key botanicals in gruit beer were considered aphrodisiacs at the time, and the rising Puritan movement helped push the brew further into obscurity.

Hops have dominated the beer scene ever since, and only in the past few decades have microbrewers started giving old gruit recipes the attention they're due. In 2017, the Scratch Brewing Company in Illinois released their seasonal Scratch Tonic, made from a combination of dandelion, carrot tops, clover, and ginger. The Põhjala Brewery in Estonia brews their Laugas beer using Estonian herbs, caraway, and juniper berries. Get in touch with your local microbrewery to see if they have their own version of the old-school beer in their line-up.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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