Drink a Shot of Snake Whiskey in Laos

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.

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.    

Annette White drinking Snake Whiskey in Laos

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.

I walked out of the shop, feeling like a stronger women. That was possibly just a side effect from the snake whiskey buzz.

We perused some of the other shops, only purchasing some grilled potato and butternut. Mostly, to get the snake taste out of my mouth.

Have you ever had snake whiskey?


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22 thoughts on “Drink a Shot of Snake Whiskey in Laos”

  1. Reading your blog always feels like an adventure! Please never stop trying crazy, weird things and writing about it, I need to live vicariously through you.

    Reply
  2. I haven’t tried snake whiskey, but I did drink a glass of deer antler wine in Shanghai. I felt like a total badass afterwards :-)

    Reply
  3. There was something similar in France years ago called Viperade. What is was was as follows.
    A Viper was caught in the vineyards and put in a bottle.
    The viper ‘went to sleep’ when the bottle was sealed.
    The bottle (with snake) was opened and filled with Marc de Bourgogne, a brandy made from grapes.
    The snake woke up and angry and emitted venom into the brandy.
    The Bottle was sealed, snake & all.
    The theory was if the vineyard workers took a shot of this before going to the fields to work it would protect them from the adverse effects of a viper snake bite.

    This ‘brandy’ was banned in France but is still available on the black market and Phoney viperade (with plastic snakes inside)

    Reply
  4. When we were in Luang Prabang there was a women at the market selling bottles of whiskey with all kinds of things in it. We tried a shot of snake whiskey, and one with a scorpion in it too. Both just tasted like strong liquor to me, but it was still a cool thing to try!

    Reply
  5. I’m a fan of whiskey but I’m not sure about this one. There’s a famous place in Taipei called Snake Alley where they sell snake blood shots. Not sure about the authenticity though. We took a stroll through the area but didn’t have the nerves to try it :-P Thanks for sharing! Maybe I’ll be brave enough to give it a try next time.

    Reply
  6. Ohhh you are so brave. I went to this place as well but just couldn’t do it!
    I watched other people doing it. Same thing for the insects….I’m not a hero when it comes to this type of adventurous food. How embarrasing actually! hahah

    Reply

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Annette White the Owner of Bucket List Journey
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