In Southeast Asia you will find the Golden Triangle, where the countries Burma (Mynamar), Thailand and Laos meet with only a narrow river as the boundary. While I was visiting on the Thailand side, there was the opportunity to take a long boat across the Mekong River to step foot on Laos. There was not a chance I was passing up a 300 baht ($9.63 usd) opportunity to step foot on a different country while in Thailand. A twofer.
What happened on the other side was another strange and unexpected bucket list moment, a shot of snake whiskey.
The boat dropped us off at a dusty shore with a rinky-dink tourist market selling a variety of trinkets. We aimlessly walked through the first store that was lined with all the typical souvenirs; t-shirts, hats, Laos currency and shot glasses. No thanks.
But, towards the back of the store there was something that caught my eye, vats of almost clear liquid each filled with a different lifeless animal; mostly snakes.
The shopkeeper proceeded to lift each one out of the liquid just to cement the gross factor. It worked.
The glass vats were said to be filled with whiskey, the animal spirits supposedly infused the liquor and then those spirits were transferred to any brave sole who would take a drink. I was a brave sole. Even braver after the experience of eating insects and a preserved century egg at Chiang Mai’s Somphet Market days earlier. May as well keep this bizarre food trend going.
With a ladle, they scooped out a shot glass size from the snake jar and handed it to me. Bottoms up.
The snake whiskey, which smelled like rubbing alcohol, went down like a fine tequila. Maybe more like a shot of cheap vodka. And that’s exactly what it tasted like, with a hint of scaly, snake funkiness.