The website for Indlovu Gin describes it, somewhat euphemistically, as "The only gin designed by the African elephant from foraged botanicals." Put in plainer language, it's gin made with elephant dung. As the AP reports:
The creators of Indlovu Gin, Les and Paula Ansley, stumbled across the idea a year ago after learning that elephants eat a variety of fruits and flowers and yet digest less than a third of it. “As a consequence, in the elephant dung, you get the most amazing variety of these botanicals,” Les Ansley said during a recent visit to their operations. “Why don’t we let the elephants do the hard work of collecting all these botanicals and we will make gin from it?” he recalled his wife suggesting.
The Open Concept bar, recently opened in St. Louis, Missouri, doesn’t sell drinks. Instead, it sells time. Buy an hour’s worth of time at the bar, and you can drink as much as you want in that hour. The price is $10/hour for basic drinks, $20/hour for premium ones.
Sounds like a bargain! But how does the bar plan to make money? Well, it turns out there actually are some limits to how much alcohol they'll serve you. From St. Louis magazine:
Anyone who’s ever attended a wedding might be wondering how you keep an open-bar concept from getting out of control. Butler says he’s put a few safety measures in place. When patrons book their time at Open Concept, they create a profile and are assigned a confirmation code, which is used to place drink orders at the bar. Bartenders will only serve one drink per person at a time, and a proprietary point-of-sale system will track consumption. Butler says the system will scan driver’s licenses and use a patron’s height and weight to assign a number of drinks per hour to keep the bar in compliance with legal limits.
In other words, you can't actually have all you can drink in an hour. But what's the limit? It seems like they're being coy about that. I'm guessing it's about two drinks per hour. So, in essence, you're pre-paying for two drinks.
The cheese-making process produces a lot of whey as a by-product — whey being a watery, yellowish-green liquid. For most of history, cheese makers simply threw out the whey, usually in the nearest river. But eventually the cheese industry began to wonder if there was anything they could do with it to make some extra money.
One possibility was to dehydrate it into a protein powder that could be fed to livestock, or bodybuilders. But in the mid-1970s, researchers at Oregon State University hit upon a potentially more lucrative use: making wine out of whey. They detailed their study in a pamphlet titled “Utilization of Cheese Whey for Wine Production.”
The reason this was possible is because the lactose in whey will ferment, if one uses the right microorganisms. The end result was a whey wine that, according to the researchers, "was acceptable to a great majority of tasters, who preferred it slightly sweet.” Which doesn't sound exactly like a glowing recommendation. Nevertheless, the researchers were enthusiastic about the potential of whey wine:
The U.S. cheese industry is in most urgent need of a development of whey by-product that would not encompass relatively expensive processes for water removal. The fermentation of sugar-fortified whey by selected wine yeast and the production of an acceptable whey wine may represent a “near ideal” solution for the whey disposal and utilization dilemma of the U.S. cheese industry. The production of an acceptable wine by whey fermentation may be the means of transposing a “cost of doing business” into a “profit opportunity.”
It doesn't seem that their dream of raking in the big bucks with whey wine ever panned out. The idea of whey-based alcohol products is still kicking around, however. Various gins and vodkas made from whey can be found, such as Bertha's Revenge Irish Milk Gin or Sheep Whey Gin. But I can't find any wines being made from whey.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.