The most dangerous cocktail ingredients
Updated: Mar 29
Here at Cocktails For You we travel regularly all over the world, just to give some perspective combined we did over 160 flights between us in 2018, naturally we try a lot of cocktails & naturally a lot of creative bartenders all over the world end up using numerous exotic ingredients in their drinks. Not all ingredients are born equal & not all ingredients are safe to use especially if you do not have the right tools or knowledge regarding certain herbs & spices. Find below some ingredients that we HIGHLY recommend to approach with caution:
We’re brought this one before in a previous article regarding trends that need to DIE but it fits right in here very well. This pharmaceutic ingredient first caught on in the health and beauty industry & is widely available in pharmacies in the Far East, detox hipsters swear by it. Most of this is just in people’s heads unfortunately as activated charcoal doesn’t just suck out the ‘bad’ stuff but rather EVERYTHING. Are you on medication? Might not work anymore thanks to that ‘Black’ Margarita! Other side effects of consuming activated charcoal include abdominal pain, constipation, bowel obstruction, and black stool. So it wasn’t the fish at the restaurant that made you sick…
Tobacco/Cigars/Cigarettes Alcohol is a poison, tobacco is a poison & if you combine the two then 2 negatives make a positive right? WRONG! Tobacco syrups, infusions, and bitters pop-up in cocktail menus all over the world all the time & they’re usually made in-house. I’ve seen bartenders infuse rum with cigars, make syrup with a smoking gun burning pipe tobacco & even burn smoke straight into a glass before pouring the cocktail on top. The danger here is in the nicotine content & how much of it ends up in the actual finished cocktail. There is no real way to control this with smoking or to measure this per infusion in a regular cocktail bar. If 30–60 mg (0.5–1.0 mg/kg) can be a lethal dosage for adult humans with cigarettes usually ranging from 8-24 mg per cigarette. The key here is HOW the nicotine is consumed & via smoke very little actually is absorbed in the body whilst if ingested the danger increases tenfold. Pass me that Cohiba El Presidente!
Although not a new spice & its dangerous qualities have long been know by governments around the world with the spice being banned in the U.S.A. but in Europe it isn’t even listed as dangerous. . The reason is that its main chemical compound, coumarin, is toxic in high doses. Swallowing 250 servings at once, about 30 beans, can damage your liver and kidneys. Naturally you can argue that no one is going to swallow that many beans from just using it as a spice in cocktails but some reports from the U.S. Food & Drug Association claim that up to 1 in 10,000 could be allergic to Tonka beans with symptoms ranging from mind side-effects to potentially being fatal. Although any PR is good PR technically I don’t think anyone is going to come drink cocktails in a bar where a patron died. Why take the risk?
Ah the holy grail of a bartenders ability lies in the ability to make ‘real’ tonic water as they did back in the day & this is where the problems begin. The primary flavour tonic water is quinine which is extracted from cinchona bark. An overdose of quinine can lead to a condition known as cinchonism symptoms of which include rashes, ringing of the ears, and even blindness. Could be the next perfect serve Gin & Blindness or G&B for short.
Liquid Nitrogen or Dry Ice
We LOVE the theatre & the smoke but in reality this stuff is extremely harmful if handled the wrong way. For example in 2012, an 18-year-old British woman had to have her stomach removed after drinking a Jäger cocktail chilled with liquid nitrogen. Drinking the extremely cold element—liquid nitrogen clocks in at -195 degrees Celsius—caused cryogenic burns to her organ and perforated its lining. Rule of thumb is it STOPPED smoking, bubbling or has a mist? WAIT ANOTHER 5 mins then throw the cocktail away before you kill someone.