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Get Weird With These 13 Unusual Liquors

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iStock / Firebox, Anty Gin, Alaska Distillery

Looking for a change of pace when knocking back drinks? Here are some interesting options to mix up your liquor cabinet.

1. PHOENIX TEARS SPICED RUM

Like a noble phoenix rises from the ashes to live again, you too can rise from a hangover and imbibe. This 80-proof rum from Firebox is the perfect addition to any fiery cocktail. This Caribbean rum has a sweet and spicy flavor with a shimmery appearance. Unfortunately, just like Hogwarts, only citizens of the UK can partake.

2. UNICORN TEARS GIN LIQUEUR

This 80-proof gin liqueur claims to be made with real unicorn tears that were harvested right from the animals' eyes (but not really; sorry fairytale villains). Each bottle is almost 17 ounces and contains a shimmery concoction that tastes like oranges, juniper berries, coriander, and liquorice. Sadly, if you want to taste unicorn tears, you'll have to take a trip to the UK.

3. COOKIES AND CREAM WHISKEY

You can get whiskey that tastes like honey or cinnamon, but did you know you can get even wackier flavors? Booze lovers who also have a sweet tooth will be pleased to discover they can get their hands on some cookies and cream-flavored whiskey. Ole Smoky mixed 35-proof whiskey with cookies and cream liqueur to create a concoction that's delicious whether you're drinking it on the rocks or enjoying it on top of ice cream.

4. SESAME AND POPCORN DAIQUIRI

Popcorn-flavored jelly beans are a source of contention for a lot of people, so this sesame and popcorn daiquiri—which you can pour directly into your glass, no mixing needed—is sure to be a controversial cocktail at any party. The nearly 17-ounce bottle is sealed with blue wax that smells like the salty booze inside. As long as you live in the UK, you can pick up a bottle to start arguments at your next shindig.

5. CINNAMON CHURRO VODKA

Enjoy this street cart dessert in liquid form with the help of Smirnoff. The triple-distilled vodka has 30 percent ABV and works well in creamy, sweet cocktails.

6. PURE MILK VODKA

Yes, you're reading that right: pure milk vodka. Black Cow, a company in West Dorset, England, takes milk from grass-fed cows and turns it into booze. The company ferments the whey created by making cheese into a milk beer, which is then distilled, blended, and filtered. The resulting vodka—which is only available to UK residents—is sweet with hints of vanilla and cinnamon.

7. QUINOA VODKA

This booze is the first and only vodka made with quinoa, according to FAIR, the company that makes it. It's the result of a partnership between French distillers and Andean farmers; the quinoa is grown in volcanic soils on the Altiplano plateau in the Andean mountains. The Beverage Tasting Institute rated the vodka superlative, saying it has "Very neutral aromas and flavors [that] suggest cream, cake, and minerals with a very soft, dryish light-to-medium body and a exquisitely smooth custard, dried fruit, and limestone accented finish. A superbly silky, elegant, and delicious vodka that is fantastic on its own and will be perfect in cocktails." As an added bonus, the booze is fair trade certified.

8. ELECTRICITY VODKA

Oddka is a vodka brand dedicated to weird flavors like fresh cut grass and apple pie—and they've also created "Electricity Vodka," an attempt to capture what a lightning bolt tastes like. The site promises a "shockingly good tongue-tickling shot"; one reviewer at Influenster described the booze as "a little sweet, a little fizzy," while a writer at Gizmodo UK said it tasted "like licking steel wool."

9. SMOKED SALMON VODKA

Is there anything more Alaskan than salmon-flavored vodka? This booze is made with actual smoked salmon and distilled with glacier water. It can be enjoyed on the rocks or mixed into a Bloody Mary.

10. SRIRACHA VODKA

Resist the urge to pour hot sauce right into your glass and buy this spicy vodka from UV. The hot, 60-proof alcohol is inspired by the cult favorite condiment Sriracha and even has a similar bottle design. Like the salmon vodka, this liquor is meant to go in a Bloody Mary; it can also be mixed with raspberry schnapps and cranberry juice.

11. PICKLE VODKA

Chilled Dills pickle-flavored vodka is very high tech: The vodka is distilled six times before flavor infusion even begins—and the infusion process incorporates ultrasonic waves that, according to the website, "create chemical compounds that we can then filter out. The result is a cleaner, more pure spirit than can be created with traditional distilling practices." The booze is great for Bloody Marys, mojitos, and other brunchy cocktails.

12. BREAKFAST CORDIAL

This sweet collection is composed of three cordials: blueberry pancake, maple bacon, and glazed donut. The maple bacon flavor apparently matches the taste of the meat pretty well, but the blueberry pancake (imitation) liqueur is, according to Serious Eats, "sweet to the point where I'm pretty sure I felt my pancreas shutting down."

13. ANTY GIN

Red wood ants produce a compound called formic acid, a reactive compound in alcohol. By making gin with these ants (each bottle contains the essence of around 62 ants), the Nordic Food Lab and the Cambridge Distillery were able to make a booze that has a distinct lemon lime flavor with a hint of lemongrass. Other notes include wood avens, nettles, alexander seeds, and juniper. The current batch is sold out, but keep your eye on their website to snag a bottle next time.

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Big Questions
If Beer and Bread Use Almost the Exact Same Ingredients, Why Isn't Bread Alcoholic?
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If beer and bread use almost the exact same ingredients (minus hops) why isn't bread alcoholic?

Josh Velson:

All yeast breads contain some amount of alcohol. Have you ever smelled a rising loaf of bread or, better yet, smelled the air underneath dough that has been covered while rising? It smells really boozy. And that sweet smell that fresh-baked bread has under the yeast and nutty Maillard reaction notes? Alcohol.

However, during the baking process, most of the alcohol in the dough evaporates into the atmosphere. This is basically the same thing that happens to much of the water in the dough as well. And it’s long been known that bread contains residual alcohol—up to 1.9 percent of it. In the 1920s, the American Chemical Society even had a set of experimenters report on it.

Anecdotally, I’ve also accidentally made really boozy bread by letting a white bread dough rise for too long. The end result was that not enough of the alcohol boiled off, and the darned thing tasted like alcohol. You can also taste alcohol in the doughy bits of underbaked white bread, which I categorically do not recommend you try making.

Putting on my industrial biochemistry hat here, many [people] claim that alcohol is only the product of a “starvation process” on yeast once they run out of oxygen. That’s wrong.

The most common brewers and bread yeasts, of the Saccharomyces genus (and some of the Brettanomyces genus, also used to produce beer), will produce alcohol in both a beer wort
and in bread dough immediately, regardless of aeration. This is actually a surprising result, as it runs counter to what is most efficient for the cell (and, incidentally, the simplistic version of yeast biology that is often taught to home brewers). The expectation would be that the cell would perform aerobic respiration (full conversion of sugar and oxygen to carbon dioxide and water) until oxygen runs out, and only then revert to alcoholic fermentation, which runs without oxygen but produces less energy.

Instead, if a Saccharomyces yeast finds itself in a high-sugar environment, regardless of the presence of air it will start producing ethanol, shunting sugar into the anaerobic respiration pathway while still running the aerobic process in parallel. This phenomenon is known as the Crabtree effect, and is speculated to be an adaptation to suppress competing organisms
in the high-sugar environment because ethanol has antiseptic properties that yeasts are tolerant to but competitors are not. It’s a quirk of Saccharomyces biology that you basically only learn about if you spent a long time doing way too much yeast cell culture … like me.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Health
Attention Moscow Mule Fans: Those Copper Mugs May Pose a Serious Health Threat
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Even if you can’t list the ingredients in a Moscow Mule, you may be able to recognize one from across a bar: The simple combination of vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer is traditionally served in a copper mug. But that trendy vessel could pose a serious health threat, according to public health officials. As CBS News reports, the potential for food poisoning from those iconic cups is severe enough that the state of Iowa is taking a stand against them.

Copper is commonly used to make kitchenware like pots and pans, but when it comes into contact with certain foods, it can be unsafe. Foods and liquids that have a pH lower than 6.0, and are therefore acidic, can erode the copper and copper alloys and cause them to mix with whatever’s being consumed. The pH of lime juice falls between 2.0 and 2.35 [PDF], so the chances of copper contamination from a Moscow Mule sloshing inside a copper mug all night are high.

Symptoms of copper poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and yellow skin or jaundice. Even if you feel fine after a night of Moscow Mule imbibing, long-term effects like liver damage can occur over time. In response to these hazards, Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division released a statement [PDF] advising against the use of Moscow Mule mugs. “The recent popularity of Moscow Mules, an alcoholic cocktail typically served in a copper mug, has led to inquiries regarding the safe use of copper mugs and this beverage,” it reads. “The use of copper and copper alloys as a food contact surface is limited in Iowa.”

If you’re hesitant to put your Moscow Mule obsession to bed, there are ways to enjoy the drink safely without sacrificing the classic look. When stocking your bar at home, make sure to include copper mugs lined with food-safe metal like nickel or stainless steel. And when you’re ordering the drink elsewhere, you can check with the bartender to see if they have similar containers. If not, asking for the drink in a boring old glass is your safest bet.

[h/t CBS News]

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