By Devin Pratt
Updated April 15, 2015
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This piece originally appeared on

It’s human nature to want to raise the bar. If your car has 300 horsepower, you want 400. If you have a 2,000-square-foot house, you want 3,000. So why should it be any different when it comes to booze? These six cocktails upped the alcoholic ante—then ended up getting slapped by the long arm of the law.

1. Nutcrackers

Banned in New York City

With origins in Harlem, this illegal liquor has been a New York City summer tradition since the 1990s. The premise of nutcrackers is a simple one. Combine several high-proof liquors, such as 160-proof Devil’s Springs vodka, 151-proof Bacardi 151 rum, Southern Comfort or just about anything else into plastic bottles. Add sweet fruit juice such as mango, cranberry or pineapple and put the concoction in the freezer until it becomes slushy. While it’s illegal to sell liquor without a license, nutcrackers aren’t particularly hard to find in New York City. You can usually get a 12-ounce bottle for $10.

2. Moby Dick Whale Cocktail

Banned in the United Kingdom

What could be in a Moby Dick cocktail that warrants a ban in the United Kingdom? Hint: it’s not a giant penis. This forbidden libation, once served in the Nightjar bar in East London, consists of whisky, scotch, ale and bitters infused with a slice of dried whale skin, which is illegal in most European countries. The bar’s owner claims an employee vacationing in Japan purchased the whale meat, not knowing that it was prohibited in the U.K.

3. Vaportini

Banned in Maryland

Turns out you don’t have to be Lindsay Lohan to inhale alcohol. All you need is a simple device that evaporates flavor-infused alcohol through a straw. The end result is faster intoxication since the vapors deliver the booze directly into your bloodstream instead of being processed through the stomach and liver. A novelty you can enjoy in all states but Maryland, which banned the liquid-less libation last year.

4. Palcahol

Banned in Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, Michigan, and Vermont

You know how boxed wine has been the punch line of every cheap booze joke since the dawn of humankind? Well, take a break, Carlo Rossi. There’s a new libation getting all the laughs. Meet Palcahol, a powdered alcohol that comes in a variety of flavors, including vodka, rum, Cosmopolitan, Kamikaze and Margarita. You simply mix the contents of the packet with water whenever you need a drink. Think of it as Tang for people who like to get drunk. While the federal government has OK’d Palcahol (for now), the powdery concoction is banned in several states.

5. Four Loko

Banned in the United States (original formula)

Remember this caffeine-fueled spirit targeted at college kids a few years ago? The idea was you could get buzzed and drunk at the same time. It turns out that’s not such a good thing. Four Loko made more hearts race than David Hasselhoff at Oktoberfest. Also known as “blackout in a can,” the boozed-infused energy drink was to blame for numerous alcohol-related hospitalizations, landing the company in hot water with officials. You can still find Four Loko on store shelves. However, the new incarnation is a shell of its former juiced-up self, as it no longer contains caffeine.

6. Phrosties

Banned in New York


If you think buying homemade, unregulated alcoholic slushies from the Internet is a bad idea, you’re probably right. Before New York banned Phrosties last year, you could order these colorful libations through an Instagram-based delivery service. At $10 a pop, the sugary spirits came in exotic-sounding flavors like Blue Hawaiian and Dragonberry Colada. Rumors circulated that the drinks were laced with codeine and other drugs. People even reported experiencing extreme intoxication and hallucinations. Turns out, Phrosties were made up of a moderate amount of alcohol and a whole lot of sugar.

Devin Pratt is a U.S.–based writer and editor who has traveled extensively, including hiking and whitewater rafting in Bosnia and Croatia. When not on assignment, he can be found exploring the great outdoors.