Vaportinis: We've Got the Vapors
Ordering a drink isn't what it used to be. If I want to enjoy an adult beverage, I now have the option of sucking a shot through a beef marrow bone, lapping up a swirl of alcohol-infused whipped cream or chugging beer made from actual beard yeast (seriously). Man, remember when you could just ask for a Jack and Coke and be good to go?
The latest boozy trend: inhaling your liquor. Yep, a new device called the Vaportini has made it possible, evaporating spirits so you can breathe in the flavors with a straw. Since the alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, there are no calories or impurities, and the effects are felt immediately.
Chicago cocktail-lounge owner Julie Palmer came up with the concept after watching a friend in Finland pour vodka over hot coals inside a sauna. It was intoxicating—literally. She wanted to re-create that experience for friends and customers, so she asked her father, an engineer, for help. Several experiments later, the Vaportini—now available for $30 at www.vaportini.com—was born.
The setup is pretty simple. Pour a shot of your favorite spirit (anything 70 proof or higher will do) into a glass globe that rests over a candle. As it heats up, insert a glass straw into the vessel, then breathe in the flavored fumes. The aromas are meant to be inhaled slowly and savored, not huffed as if you're a spray-paint junkie in a high-school parking lot. (In other words, pace yourself, lushes. Alcohol vapor is strong and can be dangerous if misused.) Many have reported feeling a mellow buzz that wears off quickly.
I decided to try the Vaportini one night in my kitchen. As I set it up, I kept thinking, "Is this thing really legal?" (it is, for now) and, "Remember to hide it from my mother." I lit the candle, poured a shot of Maker's Mark into the globe using a plastic funnel and waited four minutes for the vapor action to kick in. Then, I peer-pressured my husband into taking the first hit.
"Yeah, this will get you drunk," he said after sucking in a puff.
I went next, breathing in gently. The vapors were warm, like what you experience with a hookah. I was able to taste all the flavors of the whiskey without getting any of the sharpness of alcohol. It was kind of nice.
And then we poured it all out. Hey, these are precious brain cells, people!
A few minutes later, my husband turned to me and asked, "You wanna beer?"
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