We love us some spooky season over here at Thirsty and are fully down for all the boos (insert ghost emoji), we do want to make sure that everyone is safe. Creepy cocktails can certainly deliver kitschy fun but creating a cool looking instagrammable cocktail has given rise to some drinks creators to not only push boundaries of creativity, but also push boundaries of safety. Mixing elements like activated charcoal, dry ice, liquid nitrogen and cannabis for the sake of people hitting the like button can be downright dangerous. And while some bartenders might have an understanding of how to handle some of these ingredients, many more are not properly trained or equipped to use them and certainly irresponsible to tempt people at home to play around with them. We encourage everyone to refer to Cocktail Safe and check the safety of ingredients when using anything you might not be familiar with, especially if you are only looking to incorporate an element for aesthetics.
We asked Camper English, Creator of Cocktail Safe, to give us some insight on the topic, “There are a few ways that bartenders and enthusiasts can make mistakes with cocktail safety. Either ingredients are legally limited (wormwood, quinine) and can be dangerous at high levels, or they’re associated with supplements/holistic medicine (activated charcoal, THC) and can have unintended impacts, especially in combination with alcohol. Sometimes they’re not meant for food at all – flowers from the florist rather than the food aisle, and other things that look great on Instagram but aren’t safe to eat. (The other problem with Instagram is that even if you know better than to actually drink the drink, the people clicking through might not.) And finally there are some processes and materials (fire, liquid nitrogen) that are safe when used professionally but can cause serious injury in a party environment.”
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Activated charcoal has been used to create black drinks that capture dark imaginations, but it should not be used in cocktails. Health & wellness aficionados have used activated charcoal as part of their detoxifying routines and while the FDA hasn’t prohibited its use, states like New York have banned it in food or drink. The medical community has used activated charcoal to treat poisoning and it is proven to counteract and prevent the absorption of prescription medication and supplements by the body. So birth control, mood stabilizers and other important medication can be completely ineffective by ingestion of activated charcoal.
Dry Ice and liquid nitrogen sure do look spooky cool with the smokey effects they cause. However, both of these must really be handled with extreme caution and care when using in cocktails. Bartenders and cocktail creators often use these for show-stopping effects but they really need to practice extreme caution when using and warn guests accordingly. Although generally safe to use in cocktails, it is certainly not safe to ingest or touch and requires special precautions in handling.
Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide and while touching it can cause burns, ingesting even a small amount can be extremely dangerous and freeze tissue in your stomach, esophagus or stomach. In 2012, woman had to have her stomach removed from ingesting a cocktail with liquid nitrogen.
While we are on the conversation, we also want to quickly address other elements for aesthetics, marketing buzz or social media like flowers, herbs or other chemicals. Specifically, we want to add words of caution when adding cannabis extracts to cocktails. While we understand that it is legal in some states to add CBD or even THC to cocktails, we go by the rule of them that therapeutics or medicinal elements should not be mixed with alcohol … ever. Even if mixing with non-alcoholic drinks, there is a reason that these are regulated in states where legal to ensure dosage and labeling are handled by experts. Drink makers should not be adding anything to a guests drink if they have no idea about how dosage might affect them. It is irresponsible and can be very dangerous … just don’t do it.
Please have a happy & safe spooky season, wear a mask and remember that culture is not a costume … peace & love!
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