There are many differences between doing a keg stand and sipping a fancy cocktail – but waking up the next morning with a killer headache is a crucial similarity. Especially given the creation of “overproof” cocktails, a trend that’s spreading through cities all over the U.S. Though many of these drinks are created for the sake of enjoyment, or even art, it remains true that our culture tends to glorify the ideal of youthful, forgetful drunkenness – think Jersey Shore or the Hangover movies. Making strong cocktails is a sure way to achieve that state; and why would we want to avoid it, seeing as many of the depictions on TV and in movies ensure an epic night, even if you can’t remember it?
The following pretty but perilous concoctions exceed the industry standard of 80 proof; they contain far more alcohol than the standard 1.5oz pour. One of the reasons for this trend is that bartenders have a wider variety of overproof spirits – such as Bacardi 151 – to create new and enticing alcoholic treats. Now, for those who may need clarification, “proof” indicates the government documentation of a distilled beverage’s alcohol content. A drink that markets itself as eighty proof, for example, means that it is 40 percent alcohol; one that is one hundred proof is 50 percent alcohol, and so on. Some overproof or “cask strength” alcohol can contain up to 75 percent.
It is undeniable that alcohol plays an important role as a social custom in many adult and young adult lives. While there is usually little wrong with having a drink or two, there’s always the age-old risk of imbibing overmuch. We hear stories of such overindulgence frequently, often from the depths of rogue underage fraternities on large college campuses. Yet, the risk and allure – often equal in magnitude – of alcohol does not diminish as soon as your fake ID becomes obsolete. The following cocktails, more so than many, tread the line between a fashionable toast and plain old binge drinking. Try them at your own risk!
5. Cuba Libre
The Cuba Libre is believed to have been invented in the early 1900s in Cuba. As made by The Strand Smokehouse – where it has gained attention – it is a reimagining of the classic rum and coke. (It’s made up of a mix of rum, soda, and lime). It contains 2.5oz of rum topped with a special lime cola made especially for the restaurant by Brooklyn Soda Works. The cocktail is also served with a wedge of pineapple soaked in moonshine. When Reed Tucker of the New York Post tried this drink and took a breathalyzer test, he blew a 0.10, surpassing the 0.08 legal limit for driving. This high BAC is not even all that surprising considering this killer cocktail is equal to about 2.3 average drinks!
4. The Hurl Hurl
Some say this drink goes down smoothly because of all the flavored liquors, but its name certainly suggests otherwise. The cocktail contains 1 part of Amaretto, cranberry juice, crème de banane, Malibu rum, melon liqueur, peach schnapps, raspberry liqueur, Southern Comfort, and triple sec. The drink is made simply by adding a splash of these many ingredients into a shaker cup. Shake with ice until the drink is very cold; one can serve it in a cocktail glass as a drink, or expedite the process by taking it as a shot.
3. The Zombie
If you ask around about the most potent drinks available, almost everyone mentions the Zombie. Also known as the ‘skull-puncher,’ this drink includes 1/2oz Bacardi 151 rum, 1oz pineapple juice, 1oz orange juice, 1/2oz apricot brandy, 1 tsp sugar, 2oz light rum, 1oz dark rum, 1oz lime juice. To make this drink, all the ingredients are blended, while the rum ‘floats’ on top. Usually you’ll find this drink garnished with mint and a cherry. Despite its pretty appearance (and scarily high sugar content), this is one of the strongest drinks out there. It was first concocted in the late 1930s by Donn Beach of Hollywood’s Don the Beachcomber restaurant. Legend has it that Beach created the drink to help a hung-over customer get through a business meeting (though this doesn’t seem like that best hangover cure!) It was later popularized in the 1939 World’s Fair. Today, the recipe is likely to have altered significantly, since Beach kept his exact recipe for the drink secret.
2. The Aunt Roberta
The Aunt Roberta Cocktail contains, roughly, 1oz absinthe, 1.5oz vodka, 1/2oz 151 rum, 1oz brandy, 3/4oz gin, 1/2oz blackberry liqueur. That’s right, it contains nothing but alcoholic beverages. It is unclear how anyone manages to down this concoction and live to tell the tale. Rumor has it that this powerful potion was invented in the 1800s by a prostitute who ran a bootleg drink business; she allegedly made her own gin and moonshine whilst living an itinerant life. Whether or not the story is true, the mixture made its way to a New York bar, where it has undergone more changes over time. What remains the same, however, is that this is a very strong drink. Indeed, many claim it’s the strongest cocktail you can get.
1. The Vaportini
This new trend, which involves inhaling alcohol instead of drinking it, may be the most dangerous ‘cocktail’ of all. Inventor Julie Palmer created the glass apparatus – from which spirits are inhaled after being heated to 140°F – claiming that taking alcohol directly into the bloodstream has the advantage of “almost no calories, no carbs, no impurities and immediate effects.” Palmer opened a cocktail lounge in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, where the vapor trend is now gaining popularity. Essentially, the device evaporates flavor-infused spirits, so you can take in the aromas and alcohol without actually drinking.
However, health experts have seriously warned against this practice, not only because this method of inhalation risks alcohol poisoning or even fire-related injury, but also because smoking anything is toxic to the lungs. The concept was originally introduced in the US in 2012, and now appears to be gathering ‘steam’ (!) in the UK as summer approaches. The central danger is that this method of intake “bypasses your body’s natural defense mechanisms against consuming too much alcohol.”