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9 strange brews from around the world

By: Josh Lew on Nov. 4, 2014, 10:48 a.m.
Snake wine

Photo: Chantal de Bruijne/Shutterstock

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Snake wine

Some liquors are infused with special ingredients that aren't necessary for distillation but add flavor or even health benefits. Take Vietnam's snake wine: basically, rice-based liquor (usually called “rice wine,” although the strength makes it more akin to “rice vodka”) is poured into a bottle that contains a snake and, after a certain amount of time, the resulting cocktail can be consumed.

Though souvenir shops often sell whole snakes in a fancy bottle, the practice of combining unique ingredients with rice wine is based on traditional medicine. Still popular today, these drinks are called ruou thuoc, which literally means “medicine wine.” In some versions of ruou thuoc, certain herbs are added instead of or in addition to animals. Though whole animals such as snakes or baby mice are sometimes used, most often the wine contains only the organs, which are thought to be beneficial for health.