Romeo Palomares, mixologist at in Mexico City’s Luciferina Bar, was challenged two years ago by his bosses to create a unique, supernatural-themed cocktail for the upcoming Dia de los Muertos holiday. Palomares turned to a local market for inspiration, where a vendor suggested he try an unlikely ingredient: tarantula venom. The mixologist (fancy word for hipster bartender) tried a small dose of the venom, which he claimed tasted salty “like an oyster.” Shortly after, his mouth became numb and started to tingle in response to the venom. What did Palomares do next? What any sane person would do, of course: start slinging a venom-infused cocktail at his bar.
Palomares named the cocktail “Aragog” after the elephant-sized Acromantula of the Harry Potter universe. In J.K. Rowling’s beloved book series, the massive spider eventually dies, whereupon his venom is harvested by Hogwarts’ potions professor Horace Slughorn. Palomares says that the drink is not for the faint of heart, not only because of the tarantula venom but because the drink also contains two different spirits and a hefty shot of mezcal.
The venom in the Aragog cocktail, meanwhile, causes a series of effects that last several hours. Initially, drinkers will notice their mouths becoming slightly numb, followed by light cramping in the throat and heavy salivation. Facial numbness and heavy eyelids can set in within a few hours, while most drinkers report the urge to eat shortly after drinking the ill-advised cocktail. Palomares says that despite the somewhat horrific effects of the slightly toxic beverage, the drink is a hit and the bar sells up to 200 a night:
It still freaks us out because it’s a cocktail that not all people should drink, but there are people who do not care because they just come to try it. One day a Spanish mixologist came and I felt very good because he not only liked it but also told me that it was innovative.
Well, sure, but innovative does not always mean advisable. Sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’ll never know ’cause I won’t eat the filthy beast. The Aragog cocktail might be trendy, but I’ll keep taking my mezcal in my preferred way: down the drain. No más.