Partaking in drinking as a social pastime is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to alcohol. There are vast networks of businesses and hobbyists from around the world who come together to create special occasions that go beyond the enjoyment of exploring happy hour specials and weekend mixers with friends.
From around the world, we’ve always pushed our limits and raised our potential. We are competitive, yet social by design, and as evidence has shown, we’ve always carried alcohol along the way. Alcoholic beverages are fermented, and this process also serves to preserve the beverage. Hundreds of years ago it was probably safer to drink wine versus water, and traditionally fermented beverages like wine and beer also carry a number of health benefits. Moderation is key.
The most incredible world records involving alcohol have nothing to do with how much one person can consume as one might assume would be the focus of an “alcohol world record” achievement.
Instead, many ingenious and impressive world records involving alcohol highlight the creativity, and resolve of people to not only push themselves to be stronger individuals but also to build stronger communities.
Oldest Alcoholic Beverage
The world record for the oldest known alcoholic beverage goes to the Yellow River Valley in the Henan province of China Mainland. Pottery jars excavated at an early Neolithic village dubbed Jiahu contain residues that are evidence of fruit wine. Specifically, the residues were of grapes, hawthorn tree fruit, honey, and rice.
Molecular archeologist, Professor Patrick McGovern, published these findings in 2004. The compounds are a confident indication that humans were making mixtures of rice beer, honey mead, and fruit wines as far back as 7000BC. So far, the pre and proto-historic Chinese take the record for oldest alcoholic beverages made.
Oldest and Most Expensive Cognac Sold at an Auction
Surprisingly, the oldest cognac ever sold at an auction was not the most expensive bid ever made on a bottle of the good stuff. The winner for oldest and expensive are two separate items sold on opposite ends of the world.
In 2014, a Polish company specializing in rare spirits claimed the oldest known bottle of cognac at an auction held at a Bonham’s auction in New York City, USA. The bottle itself that contained the brandy was dated as having been distilled and filled around 1840 by Cognac House Gautier in 1762. The Donsir family line came upon the bottle somewhere around 1890, and it was Eric Donsir who put the cognac up at the 2014 auction.
The most expensive cognac ever sold was a bottle of Pre-Phylloxera Cognac known as Cuvee Leonie. It was sold by Cognac Croizet Hong Kong Limite(China) for £101,293.75 in 2011 at The Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China.
Largest Alcoholic Mixed Drink
While France win’s the oldest alcoholic beverage ever sold, it’s the United States in the lead for largest alcoholic mixed drink ever made. In Las Vegas, Nevada (of course!) on November 5th, 2018, the United States Bartenders’ Guild produced a 946 liter Fever Tree Tonic Water made from Empress 1908 Gin.
However, this purple gin and tonic served a higher purpose than to just get an exorbitant number of people a presumably safe number of servings of this alcoholic beverage to enjoy at the event. The purpose for this creation was to raise money for the Cleveland Clinic, Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The “Keep Memory Alive” fundraiser raised over $10,000—and no brain cells were lost from the consumption of this cocktail large enough to have filled over three standard bathtubs.
Largest Glass of Margarita
While a margarita is arguably a mixed drink, we’re not complaining at being able to give an award to as many spectacular feats of producing the largest volumes of alcohol in one vessel—and to also be able to witness the vessel itself! In this case, the largest glass of margarita required 300 hours and 60 people to create.
In 2011, Margaritaville produced a glass of margarita that was literally a tank. It measured 5.2 meters tall and 3 meters in diameter. Named 'Lucky Rita,' she contained 32,176 liters of comprised of 8,081 liters of Margaritaville Gold tequila, 2,760 liters of Margaritaville triple sec, 8,640 liters of Margaritaville Margarita mix, and 12,870 liters of Lemon-x margarita mix.
It was an apropos endeavor. The Lucky Rita celebrated the grand opening of the Margaritaville Casino located at The Flamingo hotel in none other than Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Most Cocktails Made in One Minute
While the service industry is always looking for ways to keep up with our ever-growing lack of patience to wait on anything, including even, authentically handmade food and drinks—Sheldon Wiley, a New York bartender, refuses to sacrifice quality for time. You won’t find pre-batched cocktails when Wiley’s behind the bar. In 2013 on Good Morning America, Sheldon demonstrated his mastery of mixology by creating, one at a time, 18 cocktails within one minute.
Most Cocktails Made in One Hour
Sheldon Wiley, unsurprisingly, also held on to the world record for the most cocktails made in one hour—but only for about two years. In 2011, Wiley made 1,003 drinks within an hour. That averages to one drink per 3.5 seconds.
Then in 2013, Erik Mora of Las Vegas overtook the record with an astounding 1,559 drinks in one hour. That’s 2.31 seconds per drink.
But, that wasn’t the end of the matter. By spring of 2014, Wiley came back to claim his title with a re-shattering record of 1,905 mixed drinks made within an hour thus transcending the limits of space and time by producing drinks at a rate of 1 drink completed per every 1.89 seconds.
Most Beer Bottles Opened by a Chainsaw in One Minute
Don’t you hate it when you can’t find your bottle opener, and you have to reach for your chainsaw instead? Well, Janne Mustonen couldn’t be less deterred by such a problem. In September 2019, Mustonen of Finland, opened 27 beer bottles in succession using none other than his chainsaw.
If it comes as a surprise that such a feat could be eyed at competitively, you should realize that Mustonen was overtaking the previous record of 24 beer bottles opened by a chainsaw in one minute.
And that record was set in 2016.
Record for Largest Pub Crawl Doubles as an Impressive Fundraiser for the Fight Against Cancer
In Kansas City, Missouri, USA, native Crawl for Cancer, Inc. has been organizing pub crawls to raise money and awareness in the fight against cancer since 2001. While they’ve expanded to 20 cities across America since then, they still host their now infamous pub crawls biannually in their hometown of Kansas City.
By 2013, the organization noticed that their numbers seemed so large that they decided to take count. So on June 1, 2013, Crawl for Cancer, Inc. not only raised £65,145 for local charities, but they also won the record for their number of participants—4,885. The previous record was around 4,500 participants.
Want to beat it? The guidelines stipulate that for a warm body to be counted in a pub crawl (aside from the legalities of things like age and safety), a participant must drink a minimum of half a pint of any combination of alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks at no less than 10 different bars within 8 hours.
Most Beer Steins Carried
Believe it or not, this category of world records has a division for both men and women. The requirement for the record is that every stein must be filled with 1 litre of beer and carried a distance of 40 metres.
In 2016, Oliver Struempfel beat his own record of carrying 21 steins by first carrying 24 steins, and then again when he appeared on an entertainment show and successfully carried 25 steins. Since 2008, Anita Schwarz has claimed the women’s world record for most beer steins carried with a whopping 19 steins filled to the brim.
If you want to contend, Struempfel advises hitting the gym for strength training.
Most Pint Glasses Balanced on a Person’s Head
If carrying 19 to 25 steins at once doesn't seem impressive enough, consider balancing hundreds of pint glasses on your head.
Since the Guinness-Festival in Dassau in 2002, John Evans has held the record for most pint glasses of beer ever balanced atop the human head. Evans managed to balance 235 glasses filled and stacked for 13 seconds. He has yet to receive any contenders.
The Most Expensive Pizza Ever Sold Was Alcohol Themed
Not interested in stories of incredible strength and speed? Take a look at the creative pursuits that alcohol invigorates. The most expensive pizza ever made was inspired by a James Bond theme. In 2006, this alcohol infused pizza was designed to impart the truest form of Bond’s fine tastes and class to transform a classic, casual pastime food to its highest esteem.
Imagine a pizza prepared with Cognac marinated lobster, steak fillet soaked in scotch, Champagne imbued caviar, and vodka-infused smoked salmon. Christmas was coming in every bite of this pizza whose value was reflected in its final bid price of a whopping £2552 in 2006.
The Records of Oktoberfest
The most steins carried by a man and woman were originally set at this historical annual Bavarian event, but many more records centralizing around the celebration of good brews, food, and community have been set at and inspired by the events of Oktoberfest.
Most Traditional Dresses Worn at an Event
In 2016, 3.134 turned out to set the world record for most Tracht dresses, the traditional dress in Germany, worn in a single place.
Largest Pretzel Ever Baked
Industrias La Constancia under its Pilsener brand created a 784 kg pretzel at the 2016 Oktoberfest. The weight of this pretzel was heavier than the average Holstein cow. The pretzel was recorded at 9 metres long and 4 metres wide, and thus earned the world record for largest pretzel ever made.
Most Juice Extracted From Grapes in One Minute
Martina Servaty, representing Germany, and yes—dressed in the traditional Tracht dress—appeared on a television show hosted by Gordon Ramsey in 2017 to stomp out the old world record for most juice extracted from grapes in one minute. She was able to claim 12.8 litres of liquid within a minute. The old record? 8.6 litres.
Most Layers in a Cocktail
Ending this collection many incredible alcohol world records is a classic and direct example of the impressiveness of human engineering in science—and alcohol! We often take for granted the amount of understanding and knowledge that a successful mixologist accumulates. Don’t forget to tip your local bartender with a real sense of gratitude for them as they are truly an underrepresented food scientist toiling away for your pleasure.
The most layers ever fashioned into a cocktail comes in at 10. In 2017, a woman named Zheng Wen from China successfully layered 10 ingredients consisting of 7 types of alcohol and 3 fruit flavored sugar syrup mixes. Showcasing her mastery in the understanding of the densities of the various alcoholic drinks and their accompanying flavorings, it took Wen over an hour to make this accomplishment.
She was aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise Liner, of all places, and commanding the balance of these delicate liquids into 10 solid layers—thus earning her the world record for most layers ever placed in a single cocktail. She should also win an award for most patient mixologist in the world.
Human Ingenuity Found Driving Incredible Alcohol World Records
Looking around the world, people are doing incredible things, and giving cheers with glasses clinked all along the way. From growing businesses, supporting charitable causes, pushing the limits of strength, and preserving historical artifacts. There are some seriously incredible alcohol world records go beyond just the alcohol to reveal the ingenuity of the human spirit.
Get together with your favourite people and give each other cheers for that.