Why Ordering Curdled Shots Is A Red Flag For Bartenders

When you're making a cream-based sauce, the worst case scenario is mixing something wrong and ending up with a curdled mess from which there is no coming back. Cream curdles when the fat, water, and proteins which make it up separate and regroup, causing it to take on a distinct clumpy texture and a more sour taste. When cooking, this usually happens because it was overheated or because something acidic, like fruit juice, vinegar, or alcohol was mixed in too quickly or in too high an amount, and although this isn't unsafe to consume, it can be very unpleasant.

One would think people would want to avoid this sensation in their day-to-day lives, yet a bit of unpleasant taste has not stopped some from intentionally using this reaction of alcohol and cream for shock value when partying. Curdled shots are a unique set of drinks that mix acidic liquor and cream – usually cream-based spirits like Irish cream – for a gross-out effect. On their own,  "Irish cream" liqueurs, like Baileys Irish Cream, do not curdle, despite including both cream and Irish Whiskey. That's because, as Baileys explains, it uses a special blending method to prevent the cream from curdling during manufacturing, and, once mixed, the whiskey acts as a preservative for up to two years. This delicate balance can be easily thrown off though when the pre-mixed concoction is dumped into a cold beer or mixed with citrus, causing the smooth dessert liqueur to go instantly chunky.

Stomach churning drinks

If the thought of drinking something with lumps in it isn't an immediate turn-off for you, there is one group that finds it incredibly off-putting and that is bartenders. According to Travel + Leisure, curdled shots are one of the top ten drinks bartenders see as an automatic red flag and advise against potential customers ordering. Drinks like the Cement Mixer (Baileys and lime juice), the Brain Hemorrhage (Baileys, peach schnapps, and grenadine), and the somewhat offensively named Irish Car Bomb (a twist on a boiler maker with Baileys, Jameson, and Guinness) all curdle upon mixing, making part of the "appeal" the unpleasant texture, nauseating look, or ticking clock to drink it all as quickly as possible, respectively.

Unlike a lot of bartenders' least favorite drinks, which are just overly complicated or time-consuming to make, professionals say that these drinks are just gross, and ordering them gives off an obnoxious, frat house prank vibe. Plus, when you go out and deliberately drink something that is known to be nauseating, it probably increases your odds of getting sick out on the dance floor or at the dinner table, so you should probably do yourself a favor: Spare your dignity and just skip these odd concoctions.