In Thailand Lao Khao rice whiskey is popular amongst its rural people mainly because of its cheapness and powerful alcohol strength. Lao Khao is often referred to as ‘rocket fuel’ and many westerners have made the mistake of tackling the rural brew neat. Its odour and taste is terrible (to us mere mortals anyhow) and knocking back a shot of Lao Khao is probably on a par with licking the hairiest armpit in a Bangkok sweatshop factory. It tastes absolutely repulsive.
During my many years of travelling to Thailand I have occasionally drank Lao Khao whiskey and witnessed the effects it can have on some people who drink it to excess. Lao Khao can seriously carpet bomb your brain and a large bottle costs about 110 baht (US$3). That’s a dangerous combination.
The Lao Khao Best Mixer Drink Taste Test
l decided to put Lao Khao to the test by trying to find the best mixer drink to overpower Thailand’s infamous rice whiskey’s sharp erosive taste and transform its pungent flavour into a more piquant one. Would I be able to clip the ‘Wings of an Angel’ onto rural Thailand’s ‘Raging Bull’?
I selected five mixer drinks: Coca Cola, M-150 (a type of Red Bull energy drink), Orange Juice, Soda Water and 7 Up. The rules for the test were such;
- Each drink would contain one equal shot of Lao Khao and three equal shots of mixer drink plus three ice cubes.
- The drinks would be stirred and drank in the same location on separate days on consecutive afternoons.
- No matter how bad the taste, each concoction would be finished and given a score out of 10 for its combined taste and acceptability. The higher the score the better the brew.
Lao Khao and Coca Cola
I honestly thought Coca Cola would have a good chance of winning my Lao Khao mixer drinks taste test. Coca Cola has a strong flavour and I guessed it would punch its weight when three tequila glass shots were mixed with one of Lao Khao.
I was wrong, this one tasted appalling with a large slice of repulsion dropped in. The first sip was dreadful and admittedly after a few sips it got marginally better but the Coca Cola was clubbed senseless by the rice whiskey. This one had an absolute strong Lao Khao taste to it and I won’t be having another one. Score 4/10.
Lao Khao and M-150
M-150 is an energy drink similar to Red Bull and is Thailand’s top-selling power drink. Mixed with Lao Khao it had a very agreeable taste. The energy drink’s fruity flavour rose above Lao Khao’s savage and obnoxious one to fashion rather than forge a drink with a sharp berry zest that grew on me. Would I have another one?… Yes, and it scored an admirable 7/10.
Lao Khao and Pure Orange Juice
I was a bit hesitant about this one. I guessed Lao Khao would swamp pure orange juice and concoct a biting, curdled rice whiskey tang. I parked myself and a huge chunk of skepticism at our garden table and took a tentative first sip of Lao Khao and orange juice.
The combination wasn’t quite heaven but I did find myself floating near the clouds. This one tasted real good and I thought hard about what its aftertaste reminded me of. Its flavour wasn’t quite orange juice, more like orange peel, and then I narrowed it down more. The taste of this one is similar to tangerines, the Lao Khao mixes well to produce a mild sour smack and I rated this drink highly enough to score it 8/10.
Lao Khao and Soda Water
I have drank regular Thai whiskey and soda water many times before and found the mix to be pleasant but I feared Lao Khao would be too strong for this low-flavoured mixer drink. This was the one I really wasn’t looking forward to testing.
My inkling about soda water’s ineffectiveness wasn’t even an inch out, it was spot on. To describe this drink as horrid would be dressing it up. Even with a bright pink Feather Boa Hat this mix would stink and taste considerably worse. A strong Lao Khao taste was still unmistakably there and even after slipping my sunglasses on it was just as bad.
Lao Khao and soda water is an ideal drink to offer house guests who have outstayed their welcome, and it’s a potion you’d be wise to knock over rather than knock back in one. It scored a very beastly 1/10.
Lao Khao and 7 Up
7 Up soft drinks have a fizzy lemon and lime taste and I felt its bright, sharp kick might be enough to grab Lao Khao by the butt and two-step it to the winning line. It was a red-hot afternoon and I was looking forward to sampling the last of my Lao Khao mixer drinks.
This one was remarkably refreshing and an instant hit with me. Lao Khao and 7 Up is a cool, thirst-quenching cocktail with a bite, and the mixer’s lemon and lime fizz suffocated Lao Khao’s foul flavour to kindle a drink strong enough to stagger the most hearty stag party. It was that good I bought another bottle of Lao Khao that afternoon and merrily drank till the sun settled down beyond our carpet bombed village garden.
Lao Khao and 7 Up scored a very slurred 9/10 and was the overall winner of my ‘Lao Khao Best Mixer Drink Taste Test’.
Do you have a favourite mixer drink which swigs sweet with Thailand’s Lao Khao rice whiskey?
Footnote…. I’d like to say thank you to everyone who sent Get Well cards and emails to Udon Thani Alcoholics Rehabilitation Centre for my well being. I’m doing fine now and my recovery started the day the hospital’s canteen banned 7 Up from its drinks vending machine. I’ve even stopped singing ‘Show Me the Way to Go Home’. That’s real progress. Cheers.
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© 2013, Martyn. All rights reserved.