Moment of awkward silence? Reach into your pocket, pull out one of these bits of knowledge and slide it across the bar. By Elysia Bagley.
1. China has been making alcoholic beverages for at least 9,000 years.
The earliest (chemical) evidence of alcohol production dates back to 7000BC in Jiahu, Henan province, where a molecular archaeologist discovered pottery jars containing traces of fermented liquids made from fruit, honey and rice.
2. Gin & Tonic glows in the dark.
Quinine absorbs ultraviolet light, and is thus fluorescent under UV bulbs (aka blacklight) – making tonic topped drinks like G&Ts glow with a bluish-purple hue.
3. The US government poisoned alcohol during prohibition.
True story – in an attempt to dissuade people from drinking illegally, the government changed the formula for industrially-produced alcohol (which bootleggers often stole to redistill) to make it poisonous, resulting in thousands of deaths.
4. There are unfathomably large clouds of alcohol in space.
25,000 light years from earth and 150 light years across, massive molecular cloud Sagittarius B2 contains an estimated 10 billion billion billion litres of ethyl and methyl alcohol. Not suitable for drinking, sadly.
5. Baijiu is the world’s most consumed spirit.
With over 10 billion litres consumed each year (a number that continues to grow), baijiu beats out other spirits by far. About 99% of what’s produced stays in China.
6. Andre the Giant would sometimes drink over 100 beers in one sitting.
The professional French wrestler was 224cm tall and weighed 236kg, and his drinking abilities were legend. The man could consume enormous amounts of alcohol – there are stories about him throwing back six bottles of wine before a fight, 108 beers in 45 minutes an airport and 119 beers over six hours at a bar.
7. Elk get drunk in Sweden.
Come autumn in Sweden (peak apple season), it is apparently not uncommon to spot elk under the influence, who get sloshed after eating too many fermented fallen apples. Same with deer in the US.
8. Benjamin Franklin made clarified milk punches.
There’s a letter from Franklin to a friend, dated 1763, where he provides a recipe for a clarified milk punch made from six quarts of brandy, 44 lemons rinds, four quarts of water, 2 quarts of lemon juice, four grated nutmegs, two pounds of double refined sugar and three quarts of boiled milk, with the mix then strained through a “jelly bag” until clear and stored in bottles.
9. The world’s strongest commercially distilled spirit is a vodka.
Infamous Polish vodka Spirytus Rektyfikowany clocks in at 95 and 96% alcohol (190 / 192 proof), followed by American-made Everclear, which is produced at up to 95% alcohol.
10. Cenosillicaphobia is the fear of an empty glass.
A terrifying prospect, indeed.