Friday, May 17, 2013

Liquid nitrogen cocktails require permit 'condition'

Bubble Charlotte will apparently be allowed to serve its liquid nitrogen cocktails when it opens to the public tonight. Mecklenburg County ABC law enforcement said the new EpiCentre place did receive its mixed-beverage permit, and the county health department has approved its liquid nitrogen cocktail procedure with the following "permit condition" (italic emphasis is mine):

"FOOD ESTABLISHMENT is approved for the addition of liquid Nitrogen as a BEVERAGE topper so long as the liquid is not introduced into the BEVERAGE for consumption. In accordance with FOOD ESTABLISHMENT procedure, a qualified facility representative shall educate the CONSUMER about the product prior to consumption. A FOOD EMPLOYEE shall ensure all precautions are achieved to ensure liquid nitrogen is not consumed. It is not recognized as an approved FOOD ADDITIVE and shall not be consumed by patrons."

That didn't make clear to me whether a server could hand someone a drink with liquid nitrogen still in it or not (as long as they warned them about it). So I asked the department's Lynn Lathan to clarify.

"If there is any liquid nitrogen (still in the drink)," she said, "they are to maintain possession of it until there is none left.

"When you give something to someone, they're free to eat or drink it. ... (So) if there's liquid nitrogen in it, they are not to give it to the customer."

Clinical toxicologist Anna Rouse Dulaney with Carolinas Poison Center said risk factors include "the temperature (of the drink itself and the glass it's in), the customer (and whether the customer is intoxicated) ... (and) where in the throat it hits: A sip vs. a throwdown."

(Something called the Leidenfrost effect would create an insulating vapor between your mouth and the nitrogen, so that even though the stuff is 321 degrees below 0, it would be possible to swallow it down.)

Dulaney advises that if a sip of such a drink hurts, stop immediately. If there's pain in the throat or stomach, the person should not eat or drink anything else (which would obscure medical testing) and seek medical attention.


Charlottean said...

wouldn't the proper advice be "drink a normal drink" ?

Anonymous said...


I can't wait until the drunks start ordering these.

Anonymous said...

"A qualified facility representative" --- riiiiiight

If they can charge double because the drink now looks like a cheap Halloween prop, do you think these establishments are going to pass up a quick buck because they have to hire a "qfr"?
This is how I see Friday nights at this place: "Hey Milton, Fred didn't show up, take off the apron and the hairnet, you are now our Qualified Facility Representative. Now get out there and explain to people how it's not safe for them to drink caustic substances. Then yell "BOTTOMS UP!!!"

WashuOtaku said...

Well, it was in the news about the girl that lost her stomach from a liquid nitrogen drink... so yea, they should tread carefully when dealing with it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a drink that should require you to sign a waiver! Not going to end well.

Alvaro said...

This is cool!