Urban Myths about Liquor

Alcohol, liquor, bottles

Being a bartender and bar school instructor I’ve heard many interesting stories about liquor.  Have you heard any of these?

“Dude, there’s deer’s blood and heroin in Jagermeister.”

“My dad’s brother’s friend almost died after drinking Goldschlager because the gold flakes cut up his intestines!” 

“If you eat the worm in tequila you will begin tripping because the worm is soaked in mescaline!”

Just as some people refuse to stop believing that the first moon landing was staged, you will always find gullible people wanting to believe these outrageous stories.  There are some strange things in liquor abroad but not in the FDA controlled U.S.

1.  Jagermeister:  This 70 proof 56 herb-liqueur from Germany is a popular college party favorite.  The word “Jagermeister” does in fact mean “hunt master” but could you imagine the FDA allowing blood of any kind in something we drink?  Mmmm, “Could I please have a shot of hepatitis?”  I guess it has something to do with the vampire obsessed culture of young America.  And heroin?  Well, once upon a time in the early 1930’s when it was first introduced it did contain Opium.  But sorry not anymore–just like Coca Cola had the fun stuff, it can only be purchased illegally on the streets these days.  Some say that Jager tastes just like Nyquil.  Well, think about it..what’s the number one ingredient in cough syrup?..alcohol.  And since it also contains herbs it does make a nice remedy for those sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, nighttime I need some rest remedies.

2.  Goldschlager:  This 87 proof Swiss cinnamon schnapps does contain real 24 gold karat flakes.  But if you haven’t noticed they’re in the liqueur business.  The gold flakes are so thin, soft and malleable they just dissolve into your system and do not cut up your intestines.  If someone did once die while drinking Goldschlager, it was because they just drank too much.  The gold is just a novelty.  I wonder however, if gold is an essential mineral?

3.  Worm in tequila:  Tequila is a Mexican spirit made from the blue agave plant.  Many people believe that the worm at the end of a bottle is somehow bloated with the drug mescaline.  Well, it’s actually not even a worm.  It’s the larva from a moth–gross huh?  This larva lives in the blue agave plant, and so it’s to commemorate where the tequila came from.  Some also say it’s proof that the tequila’s alcohol content is high since the “worm” stays preserved.  You don’t find this tequila in many restaurants and bars in the U.S. because it very unappealing.  Typically, makers of “Mezcal” (tequila made from a different agave species) is bottled with the worm.  So forget about hallucinogenic qualities in this worm at all.

Liquor around the world:

If you go to some far off countries there are even more strange things in liquor.  In Cambodia there is a tarantula brandy made with newly dead tarantulas–aaahhhhhh!  In rural Korea some farmers infuse their rice liquor with mouse carcasses (I don’t know why) and also with dead snakes–supposedly the liquor neutralizes the venom.  I say, if you’re drinking this stuff, you must already be tripping.

So how and why do these urban myths get started?  I suppose because everyone wants to have an interesting story to tell.  This desire to know secret bizarre things about alcohol only contributes to the growth and development of an urban myth.  And although the start of these stories may be partly factual, the truth only gets exaggerated by the whisper-down-the-lane affect.