Showing posts with label Alcohol. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alcohol. Show all posts

June 30, 2019

10 Americans Dead In The Dominican Republic and The Cause Is Clear Adulterated Booze

Image result for Dominican republic hotel mini bar
 Which is yours? How badly do you want to die while  over paying for adulterated booz?
      By Trone Dowd 

Of the 10 Americans who have mysteriously died during their trips to the Dominican Republic in the last year, nine showed symptoms commonly associated with methanol poisoning.
Now, both Dominican authorities and the FBI are looking into a counterfeit alcohol as the possible culprit, officials confirmed to VICE News. 
The nine victims died from either pulmonary edema, the medical term for fluid in the lungs, or of a heart attack. At least four of them had drunk an alcoholic beverage at resorts in Punta Cana, Santo Domingo and La Romana shortly before their deaths, according to loved ones. In addition to the recent deaths, a number of other tourists, including 47 of the 114 Jimmy Buffet fans visiting the Caribbean island for a group trip, said they became sick during their stay at a resort on the island.
“I think what the authorities are investigating is what we in science call a credible hypothesis at this point,” said LeeAnn Jaykus, a food microbiologist at North Carolina State University. “If it were the right chemicals, it could result in many of the symptoms we’ve seen in many of the victims who have died.”
During a normal distillation process, alcohol producers perform a series of steps to isolate ethanol, the form of alcohol that’s safe to drink, from more toxic compounds. But without regulation, those producers might cut corners to reduce costs, which can be deadly. 
One of the byproducts of fermentation, methanol, gets people just as drunk as normal alcohol — but lethally damages the liver, the optic nerve, and neurological and respiratory systems. Oftentimes, once the consumer starts to notice they don’t feel right, it’s too late to reverse the effects.
"It’s actually quite dangerous."
Improper distillation can also leave traces of other poisonous compounds like formaldehyde; chloroform; formic acid, which is used in the processing of leather and other textiles; and acetone, found commonly in nail polish remover, according to Nathan Lent, a biology expert at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. 
“When you distill alcohol in an unregulated way, it’s actually quite dangerous,” Lent said. 
A spokesperson with the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic told VICE News that “there will be no new information concerning the toxicology reports until the investigation is completed.” The FBI also declined to comment on any updates concerning the investigation.


Over in Mexico, more than 150 U.S. tourists reported passing out and vomiting shortly after consuming small amounts of alcohol at various resorts in Cancun, Los Cabos, Playa del Carmen and other cities between December 2017 and February 2018. 
Shortly afterward, local police seized a total of 19,700 gallons of bootleg liquor from black-market tequila operations throughout the country, although it’s unclear if the tourists’ illnesses were related. Of the gallons seized, 235 were found to contain lethal amounts of methanol.
A number of countries have also seen deaths from counterfeit alcohol in recent years, according to a 2018 report from the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking. Last year, 141 people in Indonesia died from drinking a tainted batch of local moonshine called “oplosan.” And in 2016, more than 70 people died in Russia after consuming a bath tincture commonly used by counterfeiters as a low-cost alcohol substitute. 
In the Dominican Republic, the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking reported that illicit alcohol makes up 29% of all alcohol in the nation. The report also found that distilled spirits make up 69% of the Dominican Republic’s black market for alcohol and estimated estimates bootleggers cost the country $262 million in revenue every year.
But the Dominican Republic’s Minister of Tourism Javier Garcia has insisted the island “a tranquil, peaceful destination and the safest in the region.” 
“In the last five years, the Dominican Republic has welcomed almost 30 million people, evidencing the large preference of visitors as well as the safety levels of the destination,” he said during a press conference earlier this month. “This also demonstrates these cases are isolated and regrettable. We ask the National Police to speed up as fast as possible the investigation into these cases.”


As far back as February, Patrick Quaid started noticing an uptick in tourists reporting that they too became ill at various resorts in the Dominican Republic to his open source website, Now, he’s catalogued more than 1,000 cases. 
“As a comparison, we received 10 reports in total in all of 2018 for the Dominican Republic,” Quaid said. 
The State Department, however, told NBC News that officials haven't seen an "uptick in the number of U.S. citizen deaths reported." Since the site started in 2009, Quaid has used to successfully pinpoint harmful bacterial outbreaks around the world, including the 2015 E. coli outbreak at Chipotle restaurants, before they became widely reported epidemics. Both NPR and the New York Times noted that public health officials in more than 46 states have adopted the site as a tool to detect signs of potential food and drink related issues.
“In a case like this, media attention often makes more people aware that there is a place to report, and what we are seeing are real cases, that previously went unreported,” Quaid said.
Quaid said that a significant number of users who reported being sick in 2019 suspected the spraying of insecticides as the root of their illness. But both Quaid and Jaykus didn’t think that reason was plausible.
“Insecticide can make you sick, but you’d really need like massive doses of it,” Jaykus said. “It was a little mystifying to me as to how anyone could be getting that high a dose just by spraying the stuff around.”
Earlier this week, CNN also reported that more than a dozen people they interviewed say they got sick during their trip to the Dominican Republic after they smelled a powerful, chemical odor in their resort hotel rooms. They all also suffered from a number of strange symptoms including stomach cramps, nauceousness, uncontrollable drooling, and burning of the nose and throat immediately after noticing the scent. 
The New York PostThe Cut, and local stations in Texas and South Carolina, have all published stories from tourists who say they became ill during their visits to the Dominican Republic.


As alcohol prices fluctuate around the world for any number of reasons, so does the interest in illegitimate spirits. In countries like the U.K., for example, fake booze started entering the market after the introduction of minimum pricing laws, which were meant to combat binge drinking culture, last year.
According to, many bootleggers typically package and sell their products in emptied bottles of cheap alcohol and pass them off as authentic and safely processed liquors to distributors. 
But consumers can take a number of steps to avoid or even detect counterfeit alcohol.
One way, according to Lent, is to avoid cheaper liquors, particularly clear ones like gin and vodka. He said those types are easier to replicate because nearly all liquors, when distilled, come out clear. Counterfeiters then don’t have to worry about mimicking signature colors or consistencies in spirits like whiskey.
“These liquors are also the ones that tend to be mixed,” Lent said. “Think about your vodka sodas or your vodka and gin and tonics. This typically helps mask any funny flavors and smells that some counterfeit liquors have.”
Counterfeit liquors usually smell sweeter than regular alcohol thanks to the presence of methanol, chloroform, and acetone. Lent said people shouldn't be afraid to ask their bartender if they can take a whiff from the bottle they’re drinking from.
Consumers — or concerned bars and resorts selling alcohol — can also set a small amount on fire first. Ethanol, the part of alcohol that’s safe to drink, will burn blue, while methanol can burn green or orange, according to Lent.
“Anything that doesn’t burn blue is cause for concern,” Lent said. 
“Or just stick with beer,” he added. “You don’t see a lot of this stuff popping up with beer at all. And just in case, stick with beer that you know and are familiar with.”
Cover image: 5485054 26.04.2018 Raid by the police, regional security department and trade department to disclose sales of counterfeit alcohol in a Moscow grocery store. Maksim Blinov / Sputnik via AP

December 21, 2016

Russians Dying from Drinking a Bath Lotion with High Alcohol Content

 A bottle of hawthorn bath essence, confiscated during an operation checking all private stores selling alcohol in Irkutsk, Russia (19 December 2016)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered stricter governmental measures to crack down on sales of surrogate alcohol, after dozens died from drinking a bath lotion.

This is a population in crisis. The alcohol consumption is gone back to the days of the USSR in which people were drinking anti freeze and going into Kidney shock.
They voted a President who became an Emperor and they have no power in politics to change anything, to get a job or a good apartment, never mind a house. Even a US defector by the name of Snowden is not happy there and hopping for a pardon which is not coming under Obama and doubtful to come under Trump.
The death toll in the Siberian city of Irkutsk has risen to 62, with more than 30 people seriously ill.
Mr Putin also wants new rules for compulsory labelling, plus tougher penalties for bootleggers. 
The deadly bath lotion contained methanol, which is highly poisonous.

Excise tax increase

Analysts say up to 12 million Russians drink cheap alternatives to regular, drinkable alcohol.
These are often labelled as cosmetics or medicines, and are regularly sold via vending machines. 
The presidential orders, published on the Kremlin website, call for tougher rules on all products containing more than 25% alcohol, and on the retailing of medicinal and veterinary products containing alcohol. 

A policeman in Irkutsk checking a private store is not selling alcohol hawthorn bath essenceImage copyrightEPA
Image captionPolice in Irkutsk check private stores to ensure they are not selling poisonous lotions

Mr Putin also approved increasing excise taxes on surrogate alcohols, which would make them less profitable.
The government has until July to create and submit the new legislation. 
The Siberian Times said the mass poisoning in Irkutsk was "now the worst such case in modern Russian history".
Twelve people have been arrested in an investigation that has seen 1,500 premises searched and thousands of bottles of spirits confiscated.
Investigators say the hawthorn-scented liquid carried warnings that it was not for drinking, but the label also said the product contained ethanol, rather than deadly methanol, which can also cause blindness.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered his cabinet to "sort out" the problem of selling such alcoholic products not intended for drinking.
Mr Medvedev called their widespread sale through vending machines "an absolute disgrace". 

A boxed package of hawthorn bath essence confiscated during an operation checking all private stores selling alcohol in Irkutsk (19 December 2016)Image copyrightEPA
Image captionThis boxed package of hawthorn bath essence was confiscated during an operation checking all private stores selling alcohol in Irkutsk

Health Minister Oleg Yaroshenko said that almost half of those still being treated are not expected to live and were in a very serious condition.
"They came to [the] doctors too late.... Only a miracle can save them," he was quoted by the Siberian Times as saying.
The paper said that a doctor and a kindergarten teacher were among the victims and that many of those who died were discovered in their homes because they did not have sufficient time to call an ambulance. 
Most of the victims are reported to be aged between 35 and 50.
One 33-year-old survivor said that he only drank a small amount of the lotion but still woke up blind the following morning.


April 22, 2013

China is Killing It’s Own People } Fake Alcohol!

Two days before Christmas, Chinese authorities led a raid in the capital city. Their findings would be shocking, had it been anywhere but China: 37,000 bottles of counterfeit alcohol, destined for Bar Street in Sanlitun, a popular drinking hub for expats in Beijing.
A gang of counterfeiters had apparently been collecting empty bottles of genuine alcohol, refilling them with a cheap substitute from who knows where, and then reselling them to bars. The police arrested a handful of people, but expats suspected the bar owners had been complicit, too — how else could they afford to offer their famously strong “10 kuai drinks” (U.S. $1.61)?

China is notorious for forgeries and counterfeits. Earlier this year, the China Bee Products Association claimed that half of all honey sold in the mainland is fake. Kunming in Yunnan Province brims with artificial Apple shops, converted overnight to “Smart Stores” throughout the duration of government campaigns to stamp out intellectual-property violationsBefore the final Harry Potter book was released in 2007, J. K. Rowling knockoffs, including Harry Potter and the Crystal Vase and Harry Potter and Leopard Walk Up to Dragon, made their way to Chinese bookstores, as CBS reported.

Shops at the Beijing Silk Market hawk everything from fake Adidas to fake Gucci. And near Drum Tower, I once saw a gift shop selling a suitcase full of phony American hundred-dollar bills.

Alcohol is yet another item that’s frequently counterfeited. Joe Passanante, an American doctor based in Beijing, tells me that “from what I’ve seen clinically, [counterfeit alcohol] seems to be a widespread problem,” adding that “being a physician, I think it’s personally happened to me.”

Like melamine-tainted milk and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, China’s fake alcohol can carry significant health risks. Sometimes, it’s merely an inferior alcohol — think two-buck Chuck — being substituted and sold as a pricier one. But counterfeiters also use chemically distinct alcohol that’s dangerous if consumed. It’s generally made from one of three bases: ethylene glycol, which is essentially antifreeze, attacks the kidneys and heart and is potentially fatal; methanol, which attacks the retinal nerve and can result in blindness; and isopropyl alcohol, more commonly known as rubbing alcohol.

Passanante says that from what he’s seen, he suspects most of the counterfeit alcohol in Beijing is isopropyl alcohol — though “we never know. There’s no specific test for it. . . . If it doesn’t kill you the night you drink it, most people will be fine.” The clearest indications are a slightly fruity breath smell and a crippling hangover the next morning, Passanante says.

As little as 250 milliliters — just over a cup — of isopropyl alcohol causes heavy intoxication and can reportedly be fatal, though people have survived after drinking much more. Passing out, imbibers can enter a coma. Those who die after drinking isopropyl alcohol generally drown in their own vomit or saliva. And “there are a lot of what appear to be responsible people ending up in a coma,” Passanante says.

Jeff Gi, an expert mixologist and the owner of Beijing’s Mai Bar, tells me he’s been approached by vendors who offered him fake liquor at hugely discounted prices. Known for his dedication to cocktail perfection — Gi often takes five minutes to fine-tune even the simple Hendricks and tonic — Mai Bar uses only genuine alcohol.

“But a lot of people use fake alcohol because they want to save money, and it’s cheap,” Gi says. “They don’t care about the quality or their customer’s experience . . . and they don’t care if you come back or not.”

Like any black-market product, China’s counterfeit alcohol is hard to quantify. Some big liquor producers collect their own statistics on the prevalence of alcohol counterfeiting, but they keep them secret, fearing their brand might become associated with fakery and therefore altogether avoided in China’s huge and emerging consumer-goods market, says Marjana Martinic, the deputy president of the International Center for Alcohol Policies.
The few estimates that have emerged are disturbing. George Chen, a restaurateur who specializes in wine, toldTimeOut Shanghai that his best guess is that up to 80 percent of the city’s alcohol isn’t genuine — either not meant for consumption or an inferior substitute marketed as a higher-priced brand. The chief executive of Brown-Forman, maker of Jack Daniels, has claimed that one-third of the alcohol consumed globally is produced illicitly. And the World Health Organization has found that in Southeast Asia, homebrew or other illegally procured beverages account for 69 percent of overall alcohol consumption.

Even anecdotally, it’s evident that fake alcohol is a big problem in China. Barely a month after the December 23 crackdown, Beijing police busted a bigger ring, arresting 88 suspects and confiscating counterfeit alcohol worth $861,000. The state-run media reported in February that a single public-security officer was responsible for monitoring the alcohol quality in more than 20 Sanlitun bars, and when I was there in March 2013, 10-kuai drinks were still abundantly available.

 Nor is alcohol counterfeiting limited to Beijing. Last November, authorities in Zhejiang Province discovered 10,000 bottles of fake Château Lafite Rothschild, valued at around $16 million. China’s nouveau riche crave wine as a status symbol, and sometimes the flamboyant display of wealth is more pleasurable than taste; the BBC has reported that around 70 percent of the Château Lafite bottles sold in China aren’t the real thing.     

Two years ago, Chinese police reported that at least $33,800 in fake booze had been sold around Shanghai before 25 people were caught and arrested. In Huaihua, Hunan Province, police found counterfeit alcohol valued at $675,000 in 2011; and in Shoaxing City, Zhejiang Province, police broke up a $305 million operation that had sold counterfeit alcohol in 97 Chinese cities. The China Daily reported that the suspects “had allegedly poured cheap liquors into real containers . . . that they had bought from liquor vendors and rag pickers.” And those are just a few examples.

Counterfeit alcohol is not only dangerous — it’s also harmful to businesses, which are already contending with China’s complicated and often corrupt economic system.

“It’s a nightmare. It’s an absolute nightmare,” says Charlie, a veteran bartender in China who works at The Stumble Inn in Sanlitun, who declined to give his last name. “The fake booze hurts. If you poured it in your car, it would probably work. I’ve siphoned petrol out of a car before, and it was a more pleasant taste. But it’s a roaring trade. It’s a 10-kaui mojito, and people are cheap.”

Charlie tells me that fake alcohol presents “a massive problem, especially when you’re trying to run a good, clean establishment.” There’s the competition factor — a rum and Coke at Stumble Inn costs about 45 yuan, compared to 10 yuan for a drink of questionable origin across the street. Moreover, customers bar-hop in Sanlitun, starting the night out at Stumble Inn and ending up at a less reputable establishment. The next morning, they show up with a brutal hangover, and they want to blame Charlie for selling them fake booze.

Stumble Inn has coped by establishing a reputation for an honest drink. Each bottle of liquor is examined. The latest labeling information from the company is scrutinized, and the liquor is taste- and smell-tested before it’s served. Whenever possible, the bar uses vendors recommended by the liquor companies. When it can’t, it instead consults with other expat bars to find a supplier with a good reputation. Stumble Inn also withholds 40 to 60 percent of suppliers’ payments for at least 30 days, and if even one fake is discovered, “we stop dealing with them immediately, and they will not be paid,” Charlie says. He estimates the bar spends more than $800 a month on quality control for food and drinks.

Vouching for the integrity of alcohol can be difficult for suppliers, too, though. Chinese manufacturers expert in forging have been known to produce not only counterfeit bottles and counterfeit liquor — some also counterfeit the customs stamps and certifications that are supposed to mark the real deal.

Consequently, China’s bartenders have come up with their own tests. One tells me that Jack Daniels “is the benchmark. If they’re using it, I can smell it and I can taste it. It’s the most unique-smelling alcohol there is.” An additional perk? If it’s real, Jack Daniels will leave a white band around the perimeter of a glass when it’s mixed with Coca-Cola. The fake version doesn’t. Bombay and tonic is also a good test, bartenders tell me, because it has a slightly bluish tint when exposed to light. And seasoned drinkers can often taste the difference, too.

Of course, the fact that bartenders and bar owners feel the need to do their own diligence is telling. China’s black market in counterfeit goods challenges not only the health of its people but also its legitimate economy. It’s essentially a short-sighted approach   economics. And like fake alcohol, it can be expected to end in one hell of a hangover.
— Jillian Kay Melchior is a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

April 17, 2013

Beer Taste Triggers Good Feelings in { The Brain }

The taste of beer, without its alcoholic effects, may be enough to trigger the release
 of the .ure chemical dopamine

The taste of beer, without its alcoholic effects, may be enough to trigger the release of the pleasure chemical dopamine in the brain, a study finds.
To see how the taste of beer affects the brain, researchers gave a group of men tiny tastes of beer, and as the men sipped the beer, the researchers scanned the men’s brains. After a taste of beer, the men's brains showed a notable release of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with the pleasurable experience of consuming alcohol and other drugs. The effect was even greater among men who had a family history of alcoholism.
The findings are not surprising, scientists say, but having a way to assess predisposition to alcohol abuse could be useful.

"We believe this is the first experiment in humans to show that the taste of an alcoholic drink alone, without any intoxicating effect from the alcohol, can elicit this dopamine activity in the brain's reward centers," the study's senior author, neuroscientist David Kareken of the Indiana University School of Medicine, said in a statement. The findings were detailed online today (April 15) in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
Dopamine, a brain chemical widely associated with pleasure, has long been linked to the consumption of alcohol and other drugs. Sensory cues — such as tastes, smells or the sight of a bar — can elicit cravings to drink and cause relapses in recovering alcoholics. Dopamine may be critically involved in such cravings, scientists believe. (11 Interesting Facts About Hangovers)
In the study, researchers gave 49 male volunteers a tiny taste (half an ounce, or 15 milliliters) of their favorite beer over the course of 15 minutes — enough to taste the beer but not enough to cause a change in blood-alcohol level or intoxication. At other times, the volunteers were given a sports drink or water, for comparison.

To study the effect of beer's taste on dopamine receptors, the researchers scanned the volunteers' brains using Positron Emission Tomography, which uses the radiation emitted by a radioactive chemical to produce a 3D image of the brain.
The scans revealed higher increases in dopamine after the men tasted beer compared with tasting the sports drink or water — suggesting that the taste of alcohol is enough to prompt a pleasurable response in the brain. The men also reported higher beer cravings after tasting beer than water or the sports drink.
Furthermore, the men who had a family history of alcoholism showed an even greater spike in dopamine levels after they tasted the beer, so the dopamine response may be a heritable risk factor for alcoholism.
"This paper demonstrates that taste alone impacts on the brain functions associated with desire," Peter Anderson, a professor of substance use, policy and practice at Newcastle University, U.K., said in a statement. But Anderson noted that “With regard to the family history effect, this is quite difficult to assess and know what it means so we can’t be too sure of an effect or how strong it might be."
The effects of the alcohol itself on the brain, and not just the taste, could not be ruled out, Anderson added.
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February 6, 2013

Diet Coke Will Get You Drunker than You Thought, That Can to be Dangerous

diet coke mixer
 Diet soda and alcohol may make you more drunk than using non-diet mixer according to a new study.
Researchers at North Kentucky University found that diet soda (or "pop" in certain parts of the country) increases breath alcohol content more than other sugary mixers.
They found breath alcohol levels higher in those who drank the same amount of alcohol mixed with diet soda compared with those who drank regular soda.
The study used eight males and eight females with an average age of 23, said HealthDay.
In what might be the most fun study to be apart of, the participants had three drinking sessions first with diet soda, then with regular soda and finally with a placebo.
Each time they drank the equivalent of four drinks with their breath alcohol content measured eight times during the three hours.
HealthDay pointed out that peak breath alcohol level in volunteers while drinking regular soda was 0.077, which is just under the legal limit.
That number was 0.091 for diet soda drinkers - well over the limit for operating a car.
"What you choose to mix your alcohol with could possibly be the difference between breaking or not breaking the law," said lead author Cecile Marczinski, reported CNN.
"The subjects were unaware of this difference, as measured by various subjective ratings including feelings of intoxication, impairment, and willingness to drive."
The study will be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

December 12, 2012

Healthy Holiday Drinks You can Order at the Bar

 by  Photo: Flickr user Pinguino  

 healthy holiday drinks
We’ve all read those women’s magazine articles about how to order healthy drinks at the bar, which basically say: get a vodka tonic! We really can’t disagree (a vodka tonic is a relatively healthy drink, compared to other options) but it’s also pretty much a snooze when it comes to booze. To find somehealthy holiday drink ideas that aren’t totally boring, we went straight to the source and asked a few bartenders what they’d recommend. Here are their suggestions:
Say Yes To Fresh
Jacques Bezuidenhout, who is the Bartender Ambassador for Tequila 
Partida, gave me a couple basic rules of thumb for ordering drinks this holiday season:
Stay away from cheap liquors made with sugars and coloring. Stay away from store bought sweet & sours and mixers. As long as you use fresh ingredients, juice and use less sugars, your drinks will be low calorie. I like using agave nectar and honey.
Chef Marcus Guiliano, a chef who runs Aroma Thyme Bistro in the Hudson Valley, says that using fresh ingredients can also up your immunity, something that’s important during cold and flu season:
Any cocktail made with fresh squeezed juices will have a benefit versus cocktails made with pasteurized and sugared juices. For example fresh squeezed lime juice versus Rose’s Lime Juice.
It’s also a good rule of thumb to stay away from sugary drinks or brown liquors if you want to avoid a hangover (I wrote before about my terrible hangovers, but they’ve lessened quite a bit since I’ve limited myself to clear liquors). Vodka and gin generally have less calories than whiskey, bourbon, rum and other darker drinks, too.
Keep It Simple
Jesse Card, the master mixologist with Cruzan Rum, agrees that fresh ingredients are the key to healthy drinks: “If you take your favorite spirit and add it in with fresh squeezed juices and mixers, you can’t go wrong.”
And if you’re craving a drink that involves some holiday spice, he recommends keeping it simple:
“…as for the holidays/winter, another option can be as simple as asking for a hot toddy-style drink. Made with simple amounts of hot water, spices and a little something sweet into the mix, a toddy will warm you up and the water will actually help bring out more subtle flavors in your spirits. A win-win!

Sadly, it’s best to avoid the candy cane martinis and eggnog bombs if you don’t want to drink all your calories this holiday season. An eight-ounce eggnog with rum has an average of 370 calories, which can be a problem if you’d like to have more than one (also if you’d like to eat hors d’oeuvres, Christmas cookies and other seasonal treats).
Infused liquors (hello, peppermint and pumpkin!) would be a great choice for the holidays—that way, you can have your candy cane flavor but leave the hangover. Peppermint schnapps, that holdover from your high school days of raiding the liquor cabinet, is actually  a delicious addition to holiday boozing. It’s about 83 calories a serving and tastes great in hot chocolate.
 White wine is always a solid option (if, yes, a little bit boring). Champagne is more festive but it’s also relatively low-calorie (plus I always go directly into party mode when I drink it. Maybe not always a good thing, but always a fun thing!). Lighter beers and hard ciders are also not-so-bad options to order when you’re out celebrating. 

October 1, 2012

Brooklyn Home to So Much is Got Whiskey too


 A strong smell of alcohol permeates this aging building in Brooklyn, a New York City borough famous more for hot dogs and handcrafted bagels than for Kentucky-style whiskey.
Kings County Distillery
Kings County Distillery. Photo by Colins Poelman
It is in this up-and-coming section of New York, across the East River from Manhattan, where Kings County Distillery produces the amber-colored elixir said to put hair on the chest and a burn in the throat.
Although scarcely two years old, Kings County Distillery has the distinction of being the city’s oldest operating whiskey distillery.
It is the first such facility to open since the strict Prohibition laws which outlawed the sale and consumption of alcohol were repealed across most of the United States in 1933.
The distillery’s award-winning, hand-crafted bourbon is produced in a 113-year-old renovated brick building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The modest whiskey factory is the brainchild of old college buddies Colin Spoelman and David Haskell, who took on the project as something of a lark.
They now see it a part-time passion — and possibly future full-time vocation — as their New York brand of bourbon gains popularity in bars, liquor stores and restaurants around the region.
Spoelman and Haskell, who are in their 30s, were classmates at Yale University in Connecticut and shared an apartment in New York City after college.
They were surprised that there was no established tradition of distilling one’s own bourbon in a city where young professionals are known to enjoy bar-hopping.
“We thought, ‘New York loves the drink but no one makes one. That’s weird!” Haskell said.
Spoelman, meanwhile, said he was no stranger to home-distilled whiskey.
“I grew up in Kentucky, a state known for its bourbon, but where Prohibition was never repealed,” said Spoelman, referring to the strict US temperance laws that were struck down elsewhere in the United States in 1933.
The bootleg alcohol trade in Kentucky spawned a tradition of home-made spirits — popularly known as “moonshine” because it often was produced secretly in the woods, after nightfall.
Haskell and Spoelman, after deciding to produce their own whiskey, spent six months doing research and testing the results.
The entrepreneurial duo eventually developed a satisfactory product, concocted from a recipe with a distinctive pedigree.
“It’s a recipe similar to the one used in George Washington’s distillery at Mount Vernon,” Haskell boasted.
They undertook their project just as New York was trying to relax its old laws on spirits and encourage the creation of distilleries. The two friends seized the opportunity and obtained a license to operate their business in April 2010.
Haskell and Spoelman started out by installing a few small stills in their New York studio apartment.
A year later, the Brooklyn Navy Yard offered them a lease in the aging brick building that once housed an accounting office for shipyard workers, and later became a garment factory run by Hasidic Jews.
Today, four large silver stills hum away inside the facility, releasing a steady drip — about six gallons (23 liters) each day — of whiskey.
Spoelman and Haskell said they have begun to experiment with their recipe, and have even begun to produce chocolate-flavored whiskey.
The distillery, which operates seven days a week, from 9:00 am until midnight and employs a part-time staff of about a dozen workers, also doubles as a museum dedicated to the art of distilling.


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