Whilst walking through the markets in Thailand, I´ve made the strangest discovery. A snake, with or without a scorpion, floating inside a bottle. At first I thought it was a souvenir. But after enquiries I´ve learned that this is in fact an alcoholic beverage. A delicatessen. A must drink. Call me boring, unadventurous, you name it, but I was NOT going to drink that! The mere sight of the bottle and what was staring back at me, turned my stomach upside down.
I have never seen anything like it before. Surely tequila, whiskey or beer is tastier and better looking! Why would people drink it? Does it have a kick? My questions seemed to remain unanswered until a couple of nights later when I was having a meal with a couple of friends at a corner café. We were discussing Thailand, the culture, the food and soon the conversation started to drift to weird and wonderful things that we have seen. It was not very long before a couple of guys asked the owner if he has snake wine to taste.
With the glass jar on the table and the snake staring at us, I had 2 choices. Grab my things and go or stay and watch. I stayed.
The snake never comes out of the bottle. They scoop the watery mix with a small cup and then pour the content into a glass. Three brave men around our table decided to try it. A silence descended upon the table. We were holding our breaths as they brought the glasses to their lips. 1…2…3…down! I did not have my camera with me and I am so sad I didn´t bring it along. The expressions around the table were priceless but especially the faces of the guys who just drowned their sorrows. I could not help to feel sorry for them even though they said it was not too bad. One guy though was not convinced and he soon left for the bathroom. He told us “It was the grossest thing I ever drank in my life!” Funny enough I believed him.
So what is the fuss about the snake wine?
Snake wine is an alcoholic beverage that includes a whole poisonous snake in the bottle or jar. Like I mentioned before the snake could also have a scorpion as room-mate. It can be found around South-East Asia. The wine is prepared by slicing a snake along the belly and then draining the blood into a mix of rice wine or grain alcohol. The lid is then closed and stored for up to six months.
What do you think? Is it cruel to kill snakes and scorpions for an alcoholic drink? Will you drink it or have you tried it?
Date: April 2006
Information: Apparently it is illegal for people to display the snake wine. This I have read in a Thailand forum. The snake wine is still available around the Golden Triangle, Chiang Mai and other places. For more details follow the link to the forum that I have mentioned.