Discover the snake wine, an extravagant drink!
You probably know (thanks to our previous articles!) that the snake is an animal with rich symbolism, and that it can also be hazardous. But did you know that it can also be drunk? 🥃
There is indeed alcohol in Asia whose main ingredient is a poisonous snake, and it's also called Chinese wine. Intriguing, disgusting, and sometimes cruel. It is how we see Asian Gastronomy, which is well known to us for its sometimes unusual character!
Today we propose you to discover alcohol enormously appreciated in this region of the world: Snake Alcohol! The most commonly used reptiles are King Cobra, rattlesnakes, Hognose-snake, Sea snakes, Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Rat-snake, Tiger-snake.
1) Is mixing snake and alcohol a good idea?
A) What is the snake's alcohol?
This alcoholic beverage was known since the 8th century. It is composed of a liqueur and several poisonous snakes in the same container to ferment.
🍸. It can be called in many ways: Snake wine, Snake liqueur, Snake whiskey, But most often, bottles of snake alcohol contain rice alcohol, which varies between 30° and 50° (not bad).
Guess the essential characteristic of the quality of the wine...it's the quality of the venom 😅 of the snake. Indeed, the two snakes most used consequently are the vipers and the cobras. Other animals or plants can accompany the drink: goji berries, scorpions, seahorses, venomous scolopendras, ginseng roots, or geckos. In ancient Chinese medicine, these combinations are recognized as having medicinal properties. There's a snake at the bottom of the bottle? 🤯 The toxicity of these snakes can be unbelievable. They are used to using dangerous snakes. All you need is for the snake to inject you with its toxin (neurotoxin). Yes, people die like that except for medical attention, and antivenom is ready.
You may wonder what the specificity of this alcohol is, then you will be surprised, but these are its medicinal virtues 💊. The idea behind this snake drink is that the alcohol dilutes and breaks down the venom while preserving the therapeutic essence of its meat.
B) How do you make snake alcohol?
Snake Alcohol is prepared by putting a whole (and sometimes live) venomous snake 🐍 in a jar filled with Rice Alcohol, or another type of grain alcohol. It is then left to "Infuse" for several months. Occasionally, herbs and spices such as ginseng are added to the formula.
But there is a second type of drink, which does not require the snake marinade. Instead, a live snake is killed on the spot, and its blood and bile are then mixed with alcohol 🥂. This preparation is consumed immediately by the customer as a vaccine.
For the snake to infuse appropriately into the preparation, it must first be placed in a cold place to enter a state of pre-hibernation 🥶. Then the snake is eviscerated and drained of its blood before being sewn back up, to prevent it from giving off a foul odor. The brewers then put the snake's body in a vat of 60% ethanol for a month or more to ensure its preservation.
Some vendors bottle the alcohol (and the snake) in front of customers 😓. In Taipei, Japan, visitors to the Huaxi Street Tourist Night Market, colloquially known as "Snake Valley," can get a fresh bottle of Snake Alcohol made to order.
His creatures may appear aggressive in the bottle. But it's mostly survival instinct. The salesmen also play on this offensive image, by "arranging" the snakes in the most impressive way possible in the bottles.
If you find these snakes aggressive, wait until you see our Rings Collection!
C) Is snake alcohol so popular in Asia?
As you know, alcohol, in general, is not new; this one is no exception to the rule. In Asian countries, it has been known for a long time. It is given medicinal virtues. But it is essential to know that this drink is by no means luxury, it is similar to our European beer... so it is quite accessible 🍺.
Rice wine is slightly sweet. But also a taste of fish or chicken 🐓 has been released from the drink thanks to the presence snake. The customer believes that he is drinking medicinal alcohol just by adding a few herbs and spices.
This alcohol can be found on the steps and in restaurants in general. Southeast Asia is the most popular place for this drink; you can drink it in a casual setting or as an accompaniment to a meal 🍸. In these particular places, vendors take care to display on top of the gondolas bottles containing whole (it must be scary) king cobras 🐍, and other terrible creatures.
You probably see this alcohol as an opportunity to discover a new culture. However, Europeans remain sensitive to this drink for two things, its atypical side and mainly because of the way these animals are treated and killed 😡.
2. We have two types of snake alcohol
A) Snake wines
It has been consumed since the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BC) 👑. It contains alcoholic rice wine and poisonous snakes. It is traditionally regarded as a medicinal drink. The bravest are the ones who try it, but most of the inhabitants have never tasted it.
In Hong Kong, snake wine can be found in traditional restaurants, called "se wong," such as She Wong Lam in Sheung Wan or Sher Wong Fun in Central. Of course, these are establishments with many years of experience in the field. So don't worry, the snakes are well controlled. These traditional restaurants also serve snake bile injections as well as other snake dishes.
b) The Habushu
Originally from Okinawa, Habushu is a drink widely consumed in Asia (Japan, China, Philippines, and South Korea 🌏). It is composed of sake, infused with a venomous snake, most often a viper (similar to western rattlesnakes). Generally, this drink is made from honey 🍯 , spices, and herbs. Hence the characteristic yellow color. Finally, the snake is dipped into the container to infuse.
Habushu's vendors offer this drink in two ways. He can raise you the snake. But some will leave the creature in the juice to keep the extravagance of this alcohol. Some of these creatures are not dead when they are locked in the bottles. They drown afterward.
Sometimes, some Habushu brewers remove the snake before selling it. But others leave this little beast in the bottle for the customer to see 👀. Some of these creatures are not dead when they are locked in the containers, and they drown afterward.
3. The effects of snake alcohol
A) The virtues of snake alcohol
In traditional Chinese medicine, the snake has many virtues. Its bile and bones heal many (incredible!) diseases such as sciatica, migraines, and rheumatism. Snake meat is also believed to improve blood circulation and skin 👍.
The most common component of snake meat is its venom. During antiquity, venom was considered the antidote for many diseases such as joint pain, hair loss, and leprosy 💊. Quite important information! This creature could improve your sexual performance even if it hasn't been scientifically proven yet.
All this story is incredible. It even made some people drink body fluids or snake blood mixed with alcohol to avoid being poisoned 🤢. But is it right about cures? Yes, doctors have discovered analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, which could be positive for some diseases.
Knowing that the main ingredient is venom, then venomous snakes are the most popular in this field. Unlike the Asians, the West sees the snake as a dangerous creature, yet it is an integral part of our mythology. You can see how the snake is revered in China and that since the dawn of time, for this reason, the jewels that we propose to you are a perfect way to give back the symbolism of this creature. 🤩
Discover our collection of snake t-shirts to show your passion for snakes.
B) Snake alcohol: Dangerous?
Although snake alcohol is made from venomous snakes, it can be consumed safely because the ethanol in rice wine alcohol makes the snake venom harmless ✔️. If you want to drink this alcohol, you have to be very careful! Avoid home-made production. They often don't respect the rules of legislation, and they collect from Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia. The conditions of bottling the snake can also be very unhygienic.
For the less courageous countries, the beast cannot stay in the container. It's due to the producers who use protected snakes. Similarly, the mailing of Habushu with the snake in the bottle seems to be illegal in many countries 👮. It's why some manufacturers are removing the snake from the preparation.
When you go to a bar, always ask for expertise to be sure of the quality. If the snake has not been correctly cleaned and eviscerated, it may contain parasites that can be deadly ☠️. Often, jokers will drown snakes in wine, but these creatures will not let this happen as they are often alive (sleeping for months) in the drinks waiting for the right time to bite the enemy.
It's sporadic, but it happened to a woman in 2013.
C) A bite from alcohol!
Sometimes snakes have specific stratagems to stay alive in the bottle and hibernate. This technique consists of lowering its metabolism and heart rate to enter an inactive state for several months 😮; all this is possible if the bottle remains closed.
In 2013, a lady resident of the Chinese province of Heilongjiang named Liu had joint pain and was looking for a remedy. A friend advised her to take snake wine to relieve her illness. She accepted the advice, but by the time she wanted to make her liquor, a snake had jumped out of the bottle of wine, which had been fermenting for three months 🐍. This incident happened when the woman had finished her bottle of wine and wanted to refill the container with the drink, but it was when the lid was opened that the snake used its flexibility to bite her.
The poor woman was hospitalized 🏥 for a while, but she survived. But of course, it's not the first time a snake has escaped in a bottle of spirits.
- 2009: A snake that had macerated for two months bit a Chinese villager.
- 2001: A snake killed a villager in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 😰 .
We can conclude that this drink is an incredible discovery for western tourists. But also the possibility to keep the snake in a solution of formaldehyde or ethanol and thus have an aesthetic element of decoration 😐.
Finally, it is essential to specify that thousands of snakes are slaughtered every year for the pleasure of the consumers. Some brewers can reach 5000 snakes per year. But it is necessary to know that this drink makes a lot of polemic in our western countries because many snakes used are stemming from protected species 🤮.
If you got to the end of the text, it means you're a real snake fan. This alcohol we just presented to you maybe, in some cases, lethal. Of course, we are talking about the snake if it injects its venom (Envenomation). So if you're a fan of thrills, then this is a trick for you, but be careful anyway.