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Old 11-29-2012, 03:18 AM   #61
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Not again...these things need to die, before someone on here does.

This is a NEW reference on the dangers of doing this...it's geared towards bartenders, and really folks like us, who want to play with tobacco in alcohol. Read it.

I'll even make it easy for you, since it's SO IMPORTANT that you understand this.

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We've recently become aware of a surge in the number of bartenders creating homemade tobacco spirit infusions and bitters - most of which simply involve leaving a cigar in a bottle of spirit. Often, these are presented in competitions, but we've also seen five-star hotel bars with such products on the back-bar and are generally conscious of it becoming more widespread. It worried us a bit, thinking about the potential risks of toxicity in such a concentrated form, and then we discovered that Darcy S. O'Neil, a molecular pathologist and occasional bartender, already shared our concerns.

For some reason bartenders are drawn to the idea of infusing spirits with tobacco. After I made a statement that "tobacco infusions are a bad idea", I've had a number of people ask me why. The simple answer is toxicity, but that answer doesn't provide the details intelligent bartenders are looking for, so I've expanded on the question. If you are thinking about doing a tobacco infusion, this is a must-read article. If you go to bars where a tobacco-infused cocktail might show up on the menu, this is a must-read article.

Having worked in labs for a good part of my life, I've been subjected to enough safety training and accident reviews to have a healthy respect for the dangers that lurk below seemingly innocuous things.

A couple of days a week I work in a histology lab where I spend my time preparing tissue samples for researchers. One of the pieces of equipment we use is a microtome, which cuts sections of tissue as fine as 3 microns. For perspective, a human hair is roughly 100 microns. The trick to cutting things so fine is to use a really sharp blade. Now, no matter how many times we tell people to use extreme caution when cutting, there are always a few nasty cuts. It takes almost no pressure for the blade to slice through flesh resulting in a blood, stitches and a lot of paper work.

To date I have not cut myself, but there have been a few close calls. Please don't tell me to knock on wood. The reason I've avoided carving up my digits is because I'm keenly aware of the dangers. I'm almost robotic in my use of the safety devices and my reactions when something goes wrong.

So what does this have to do with infusing spirits with tobacco? Well, it just demonstrates that no matter what position you are in, you must be aware of the dangers and take precautions. In the case of tobacco infusions, the nicotine in tobacco is extremely toxic. To compare, here are some numbers for other well know toxins:

Lethal Dose
Arsenic 200mg
Strychnine 75mg
Hydrogen Cyanide 60mg
Nicotine 60mg

You are reading that correctly: nicotine is just as toxic as hydrogen cyanide (HCN). Considering HCN was used for chemical warfare purposes and suicide pills, the fact that nicotine is equally as toxic should give a person pause before incorporating it into a drink. Also, even if you don't hit the toxic levels, there are still serious side-effects with lower doses.

Let's do some maths to understand where a tobacco-infused spirit can go wrong.

A single cigarette contains 10 to 20mg of nicotine, but a smoker only gets a fraction of that amount, typically 2 to 3mg of nicotine with the other portion being burned away or not inhaled, but still a buzz worthy dose. In a liquid extraction or infusion process the yield of nicotine will be much higher.

Let's say you take 5 grams of tobacco, with 15mg of nicotine per gram, and infuse that into 250ml of vodka. That means that each 30ml (one ounce) of infused vodka will have roughly 9mg of nicotine. Even though it's not at the toxic level, if someone were to do a shot, they'd get a seriously objectionable rush. A few rounds of cocktails made with this infusion would lead to bad results.

The second problem is that non-smokers have no tolerance for nicotine. I don't smoke, but I know many people that do and they always talk about the rush they had when they started smoking, many of them said they felt ill after their first cigarette. Let's say that's only 2mg of nicotine, if a non-smoker sucked back a cocktail with 3 or 4mg of nicotine it would probably be a very unpleasant experience.

Then of course there is the compounded hangover of nicotine and alcohol withdrawal. Probably not fun.

I trust bartenders to make Manhattans and Margaritas, and many times they can't even get those simple recipes right. Knowing that, would you trust them enough to dose your cocktail with hydrogen cyanide? How about the equally toxic nicotine? Unlike other things, I find that nicotine is a bit too toxic to work with safely and I'm apprehensive at the thought of drinking tobacco-infused cocktails. Even if they aren't lethal, there are still the unpleasant side-effects I can live without.

As for the concept of cold-smoking a spirit (i.e. infusing the smoke into the spirit) this is a safer approach, since the nicotine levels will be lower. I have tried a sample of this before and the end result can be quite harsh. The flavour was reminiscent of a cigarette butt in beer bottle. Yes, back before smoking was banned in bars, I was unfortunate enough to take a swig of a bottle of beer that someone used as an ashtray. You can't forget that flavour. It makes me wonder why people would even want to drink a Nicotini.

If you operate a bar, or work in at one, I'd say you definitely need to consider liability issues if you are serving tobacco infused cocktails. There have been a number of questions about making a distillate with tobacco and whether the nicotine would distill over. As far as I can tell if you made an infusion of tobacco and distilled it, the nictine would not be in the final product. The boiling point of nicotine is 247C so it's unlikely to pass over during distillation.

This article is reproduced with kind permission of Darcy S. O'Neil who first published it earlier this year on his www.artofdrink.com blog
Hot steep/cold steep it doesn't matter. Read what I posted above. We've dealt with this before on here, that's why I keep the info handy, for when someone gets this idea in their head..

I grew up in a time when just about everyone with a garden had a jar of cigarettes in water. Back in the 70's it was thought to be a good idea for gardeners who had to deal with aphids to take a bunch of cigarettes and steep them in water in a mason jar, and whenever you had aphids to spray some of that on the plant. All the grown ups had these jars of brown liquid usually up on the top shelf of the garage out of reach. I was a kid was told to keep away, but you know how some kids are, you tell them and they then can't stay away. And even if you can't read, you can climb, and that jar is mighty tempting.

A kid in my town died from drinking some.


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Old 11-29-2012, 07:56 PM   #62
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Dont do it Goatfish! Extremely dangerous.... and just plain terrible.


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Old 12-01-2012, 08:50 PM   #63
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Nicotine is toxic...so no don't do it. If you want pipe tobacco flavors use a smoked malt and a touch of stevia for residual sweetness. But certainly do not brew with pipe tobacco it will make you sick.
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:22 PM   #64
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Just get some chew. Kodiak, Cope, something like that. Throw a big fat/phat dip in. Now swallow all the juice. Gut it. Tell me then if it would make a good beer.
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Old 05-26-2014, 12:08 AM   #65
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Default Pipe Tobacco

I agree using tobacco in beer is problematic and/or dangerous. I'm wondering if (like me) the OP thought, "Pipe tobacco sure smells great, I wonder if there's a way to create that aroma/taste in a beer." He seemed to think the way to do that was using the tobacco itself, I am wondering has anyone tried to recreate the aroma or flavor (a rauchbier comes to mind) of pipe tobacco, but without using anything poisonous. I guess a rauchbier with vanilla and maybe whisky (or rum maybe) soaked oak? There are so many pipe tobacco flavors out there cherry, apple, etc, but when I think of it I think of that basic rich smelling, not fruity but sweet scent. Other than vanilla not sure how you'd recreate that, I think it would need to be lightly smoked so as not to overpower the other notes, but I'd sure like to give it a try at some point!
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:51 PM   #66
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You know what I had the other day that was very reminiscent of pipe tobacco?

Mission fig-flavored ice cream. Maybe it's the tobaccos I've smoked, but that was all I could think of was that it tasted like my pipe tobacco smells.

I'm wondering if targeting some of those dark-fruit flavors (Special B malt, maybe some other dark crystals), in conjunction with a small amount of smoked malt, might get you in the right neighborhood.
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Old 05-27-2014, 04:43 PM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_bird View Post
You know what I had the other day that was very reminiscent of pipe tobacco?

Mission fig-flavored ice cream. Maybe it's the tobaccos I've smoked, but that was all I could think of was that it tasted like my pipe tobacco smells.

I'm wondering if targeting some of those dark-fruit flavors (Special B malt, maybe some other dark crystals), in conjunction with a small amount of smoked malt, might get you in the right neighborhood.
Interesting! So do you think get the fruit flavours out of the malt, or add actual figs to the mash, or both? That could be worth a look into. I am still very much in my infancy as a HB so just trying to nail the basics before I get too creative, but I'll keep the mission fig + creaminess idea on the background. Thanks for the idea!
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Old 05-27-2014, 05:01 PM   #68
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Play around with some dark crystal malts (120L-ish), including Special B malt. You don't need much; they're potent. Those malts will bring out some of those types of flavors. Dark Belgian candi syrup, too, might get you in that direction. You might look at some Belgian dubbel recipes for inspiration; I get some of those flavors in some of those beers. Might ramp up the Special B a little more than usual, pair it with a nice smoked malt (*not* peat; either a rauchmalt or maybe a cherrywood-smoked malt). Add those to a base beer recipe with a strong malt profile. Minimal hop flavor/aroma, clean yeast. A bigger beer, something that will finish a little on the sweet side. That's be how I'd approach it.
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Old 01-14-2015, 06:14 AM   #69
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This paper is interesting.

http://www.academia.edu/10053518/Com...ue_to_nicotine

Jean Nicot - Brouwerij De Graal makes a beer with tobacco.

Camine con cuidado... you don't want to


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