Downing a drink is accepted as a regular activity in modern society these days, as professionals, tourists and party goes enjoy a glass or two of alcoholic beverages. The reasons of drinking are many – to unwind, to relax or to forget the chaos and there is always that one drink that stands out in the list of others for each one of us. Whiskey, often touted as the gentleman’s drink, never goes out of fashion and it is said there is always room for some more.
In the countries of South East Asia, freshly brewed beer or wine is more popular. Found for as cheap as 80 cents per beer can, tourists and locals are often found enjoying these in most places.
But, if you fancy bizarre culinary adventures in a new country and want to tick off weird foods and drink off your list there is a special whiskey in Vietnam – The Snake Whiskey. Of the many things one could do with venomous snake, Vietnam infuses it with alcohol for a tasty snake poison alcohol mix. Snakes are widely believed to possess medicinal qualities and you can find this drink advertised for health all over the Southeast Asia.
If snakes are not your thing, you can choose a bottle of scorpions, geckos or even lizards in whiskey or rice wine. People of Vietnam and other South East Asian countries believe that the more lizards or geckos in one drink, the more energy you can absorb. It has also been widely believed that this drink prevents evil spirits from doing you harm. Alcohol doing all that, c’mon what else do you want?
On my recent trip to Ho Chi Minh city, I inquired about the preparation, storage procedure and ill effects from the venom. In a normal bottle of whiskey or wine, an entire venomous snake – sometimes still alive is inserted. The bottom of the bottle is later fixed so as not to spill the contents. The whiskey or wine is left there to steep for several months while the ethanol absorbs the “essence” from the snake and breaks down and denatures the venom.
It is later sold in malls, touristy roadside stalls and shopping centres. They are marketed as show-stopping centre pieces with full-hooded cobras with a scorpion tail in its mouth or other reptiles. A 200ml bottle of snake whiskey would cost approximately US$ 10-12. Be aware as you will probably not be allowed to carry these bottles home as souvenirs thanks to customs at airport.
Even if not sustainable, snake whiskey is certainly a bizarre bucket-list delicacy. Do you think the benefits are worth it? Will you try it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Disclaimer: This article was originally written for and published by La Vida Travel Cafe, Ahmedabad.
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