Is It Possible To Get Drunk From Vodka Sauce?

If you're a fan of tomato sauce, you're in luck. There are so many variations of this classically appealing pasta companion that it is hard to keep track. Beyond basic marinara, you've got briny puttanesca, spicy all'Amatriciana, and meaty Sunday gravy (via Food & Wine), to name a few, available to suit the palate of pretty much any diner.

And then there's the world of creamy tomato sauces: Italian cooking doyenne Marcella's Hazan's famous butter tomato sauce, ricotta tomato sauce, and, of course, the most famous of all creamy tomato sauces: vodka sauce. Although the name might imply a heavily boozed-up, astringent type of sauce, vodka sauce is just a basic tomato sauce enriched with cream. It boasts a small amount of the distilled spirit, whose role is to increase the sauce's aroma and help emulsify the cream and tomatoes (via Paesana). A good vodka sauce is simmered after adding the vodka, cooking off the majority of the spirit and leaving just a hint of its sharp flavor, according to Serious Eats. But since there is alcohol in the finished dish, is it possible to get drunk on vodka sauce?

No, you can't get drunk off vodka sauce

If you've ever tasted a high-quality vodka sauce, then you know that this creamy tomato sauce carries only a hint of vodka's flavor and aroma. That's because after the vodka is added to the sauce, it continues to cook. As the sauce simmers, some of the alcohol in the spirit evaporates, according to Popsugar. The longer the sauce cooks, the more alcohol will burn off. A well-cooked vodka sauce is safe for even children to eat — that's how negligible the alcohol content ends up being.

So just how alcoholic should a vodka sauce be? J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats tested various vodka sauce cooking times — taste-testing concentrations of 4% ABV, 2% ABV, and 1% ABV. The sweet spot was 2% ABV, producing a rich and tomatoey sauce while maintaining a bit of bite and heat from the vodka. To achieve a 2% ABV, López-Alt recommends adding ¼ cup of 80-proof vodka to each quart of sauce and simmering it for seven minutes. And by the time a quart of sauce is divided between four and six diners, it just doesn't contain enough alcohol to get anyone drunk. So now you know you can't rely on a plate of pasta alla vodka to get your buzz on.