Vaping alcohol sounds like a fictional way to binge-drink dreamed up by paranoid parents. Remember vodka tampons? So we had our doubts with the Vaportini, a gadget that allows you to literally inhale booze. But after putting it through comprehensive tests, we are surprised to conclude that vaping alcohol is awesome.
First, the science: In theory, vaporized alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. It sidesteps the digestive tract, which means you don’t ingest calories, carbs or fillers. The alcohol content of one inhalation is about the same as one sip of a mixed drink or beer. (You can read actual data on how vaporized alcohol affects the body here.) According to the Vaportini company, users can immediately feel the effects of the vaporized alcohol, as opposed to waiting half an hour to feel the effects of swallowed spirits. This can give drinkers more control over their imbibing.
The Vaportini kit (left) includes everything you need to vaporize alcohol at home: a pint glass, tea candle, glass orb, metal ring, plastic funnel and glass straw. You need to use a spirit that is at least 80 proof to get the best results. We used the limited-edition, extra añejo Suerte tequila, which is aged for five years in a single barrel.
Using the Vaportini apparatus is pretty simple. Place the candle in the bottom of the pint glass and light it. Then top the glass with the metal ring. Set aside. Place the funnel into the opening of the glass orb and pour a shot of alcohol into the orb. (This step gets messy no matter how slowly you pour.) Put the orb on top of the metal ring with the orb’s opening facing up. Allow the spirit to heat for five minutes. A clear vapor begins to form inside the orb. Insert the straw into the opening of the orb, but do not place it into the liquid. Then inhale deeply, holding the vapor in your lungs for a bit before exhaling.
The effects are surprisingly delicate, like sticking your nose deep into a good glass of whiskey and sniffing. The ethanol taste is strong, but you get all of the subtleties of the spirit’s flavor without the burn. Our Suerte tasted like oak, cedar, vanilla, honey and cherries. This is also why you need to use a quality spirit; there is not much nuance in a shot of Fireball.
The Vaportini would be a novel way to share really good or even infused spirit at a party. We didn’t get drunk from inhaling, but if you vape long enough, you’ll get a buzz. The whole process actually seems like the antithesis of binge-drinking: You milk the same glass (orb) for half an hour. If a drunk person tried to set this delicate contraption up, he would definitely shatter the whole thing. (You can buy replacement parts on the Vaportini website.)
When you are done, the watery remnants of the alcohol will be left at the bottom of the orb; all of the ethanol will have been expelled. Drinking this liquid is like drinking bong water (trust us), so just pour it down the drain.
Buy the basic Vaportini kit for $35 or the complete set, which includes a pint glass, for $45.
Alyson Sheppard is a hangover specialist at Playboy.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amshep