For November 16 we’ll be mixing the Bartender on Acid cocktail in recognition of the day in 1938 that Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD. Sure, the same day is also the anniversary of Havana, Cuba, and the day that Al Capone was released from Alcatraz. But it’s not every day that a potent psychedelic drug is discovered and we’ve already talked about Havana through various drinks like the El Presidente and Remember the Maine cocktails, and Al Capone through the Southside and Rock and Rye drinks.
Now we’re not recommending LSD as medicine like we do for things like Chartreuse. Nonetheless, the drug has a notable place in history. We are happy to report that the Bartender on Acid recipe is simple and has not been found to cause hallucinations.
The History of LSD
Albert Hofmann was a Swiss chemist in the Sandoz laboratories. He first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamine (LSD) from lysgergic acid, which is derived from ergotamine, an alkaloid found in ergot, a fungal disease of cereal grains that causes ergotism when ingested. Perhaps the outcomes were fated. After all, ergotism causes convulsions and other nasty stuff.
Hofmann didn’t know what he had at the time and put the substance aside for five years. Then one day in 1943 he accidentally absorbed a small amount, most likely through his fingers. His described “a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination.”
That was enough to get him to try it intentionally a few days later. That time he found the effects to be much stronger than he expected. This, as you might expect, generated a lot of interest.
Psychiatrists were excited. Sandoz introduced LSD as a psychiatric drug in 1947 and gave it out free in an attempt to find a marketable use. The CIA, in some of their more unsavory days, gave the drug to unwitting test subjects. That was most notable as part of Project MK-Ultra.
The fun side, of course, was when LSD and other psychedelics became synonymous with the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Several figures, notably Timothy Leary and Aldous Huxley began to advocate for its use. And it wasn’t just hippies taking it; Cary Grant used it under the watchful eye of his psychiatrist and believed it helped him come to peace with his childhood trauma. LSD was most popular from the 1960s to the 1980s. Some research continues, but no actual good use has yet been found. It’s illegal most everywhere.
The Bartender on Acid Cocktail
With LSD being illegal you’re obviously better off in a bar. But that’s no surprise and the Bartender on Acid is about as close as you should likely be. The drink itself is the brainchild of one Frederic Yarm, who is a Boston bartender, book author and force behind the website cocktail virgin slut.
The Bartender on Acid drink is based on the Surfer on Acid as developed by Eric Tecosky in Los Angeles while he was working on the Sunset Strip. The Surfer on Acid is an equal parts mix of Jägermeister, coconut rum and pineapple juice. Mr. Yarm substituted Fernet Branca for the Jägermeister and in place of coconut rum called for Smith & Cross. That’s about the most funky of all Jamaican rums, but you can substitute another if it’s what you have around.
Bartender on Acid
- Old Fashioned Glass
- 1 oz Jamaican rum Use Smith & Cross if you have it.
- 1 oz Fernet Branca
- 1 oz pineapple Juice
- Add all ingredients to your trusty shaker.
- Add ice and shake to chill.
- Strain into pre-chilled Old Fashioned glass. No ice.
- Pour in the direction of your liver.