Humans have been ingesting alcohol through their stomachs for thousands of years, and it’s worked just fine so far. But it’s the future now, and it’s time to try something different. The Vapshot Mini is a household device that takes spirits and vaporizes them so that you can ingest them through your lungs. That’s right, instead of drinking your booze, you can now breathe it in through a straw! The effects are immediate, since the lungs are a far more effective method of getting things into your bloodstream. And the dynamic of “drinking” with the Vapshot Mini is completely different than regular drinking. It’s a novel experience that we’ve had the pleasure of, well, experiencing for the last couple of weeks. The following article takes a more in-depth look at the machine.
The Principle and The Hardware
The idea behind the Vapshot Mini is to take pretty much any kind of spirit and to turn it into a vapour that you can then breathe through a straw. The vapour is served through special hard plastic serving bottles, which are filled up and pressurized with misted alcohol. When you open the bottle, the release of high pressure gases causes a loud pop and the instantaneous vaporization of the misted material inside. It’s the sudden change from high to low pressure that sublimates the alcohol and makes it breathable. After inhalation, since it goes from your lungs straight into your bloodstream, you feel the effects immediately, as opposed to a few minutes later as is the case normally. But since each shot of vapour is created from about 1/60th of an ounce of spirits, your liver is able to process the alcohol much quicker and you sober up much, much faster than normal.
The machine itself is about the size of a single-serve coffee brewer like the Tassimo or Keurig machines. Our unit is constructed from what looks like Aluminum and hard plastic panels, while the innards features a complex system of pipes, compressors, gauges, dials, and containers that looks straight out of a Breaking Bad meth lab. The top of the machine has a plastic-lid-covered opening through which you can access the inside, refill the booze container and fiddle with things if the need arises.
When turned on, LEDs on the inside cast a cool blue glow which illuminates the laser-cut Vapshot logo as well as a viewing window. The booze container holds 750ml of liquid, which is a standard bottle. And finally there’s a tube connected to a patented nozzle with which you fill up the serving bottles. That nozzle is tipped with a needle straw, similar to the ones that you fill up footballs or soccer balls with.
Filling the machine with alcohol is a little complicated, since it involves getting liquids into an inner container while pouring from the outside at an awkward angle. Thankfully, the company now includes a funnel so the process isn’t too difficult, but it wouldn’t hurt anything if later generations of the Vapshot Mini featured a more consumer-friendly design with an opening on the outside. Once full however, the efficiency of the machine ensures you’ll be able to get hundreds and hundreds of shots without having to refill too often.
When turned on, the compressor immediately starts up and gets booze moving. It’s pretty quiet, considering what it is; no louder than a Tassimo, for example.
On first use, you have to “prime” the system, which involves getting liquid from the main container into other parts of the internal mechanism. Unfortunately our unit wasn’t perfectly calibrated and required us to access a tiny metal alcohol/air adjustment screw on the inside. It was somewhat hard to find and reach, and we hope later iterations of the machine also relocate this screw to the outside for more friendly consumer-level use. This is especially important since alcohols of varying viscosities might require different mixes.
But once all the initial adjustments have been made, you’re ready to fill up some serving bottles and vaporize some alcohol! This is done by inserting the nozzle into the special cap and filling the serving bottle for about 20 seconds. You’ll hear the compressor alternate on and off, and slowly stop doing so as the bottle’s internal pressure reaches its target. Then you walk back to your friends with a long straw, and quickly remove the cap. It’ll literally pop loudly, like a Champagne bottle, and instantly fog up with vaporized alcohol. Insert straw: breathe in.
Unfortunately, one of the caps was somewhat leaky, which made it hiss and fizzle rather than pop, and caused incomplete vaporization. Company representatives informed us that this happens sometimes since they’re in the initial phases of manufacturing, and these kinds are being worked out. They offered to send us replacement caps, which they say they will do with any clients who experience the same problems.
How does it feel?
If you’ve ever done a shot of Tequila and felt that burning sensation in your nose and back of the neck, you’ve had a sample of what it feels like to breathe alcohol. It’s a little difficult at first as you get used to the feeling, but it’s not actually painful. Also, the kind of spirit you vaporize makes a huge impact. We tried Tequila and Gin, and of course the Gin was much, much easier to breathe in. And yes, you do still taste the alcohol, just like you would if you were drinking normally.
So how does it feel? Well… ok, you do feel something right away. There’s no denying that. Light-headedness and normal drunken feel hits you within 5 seconds, and this is freaking awesome! But… it doesn’t do so very intensely. At least not with just one shot. We found that we had to take around 3 to 4 shots before we started to feel like we’d had a good beer. At least that’s how it felt to us, seasoned drinkers. Lighter drinkers might be completely satisfied with just one shot.
The nice thing is that you don’t have to fill up a serving bottle with just vapour. You can pour yourself a small, normal drink right inside the bottle, then top it off with vapour. This is a perfect combination since you can get kickstarted on the drunkenness, while sipping on a drink normally.
Then of course, there’s the diminished sobering up times. Since each shot of alcohol is made up of only a few drops of liquid, there’s comparatively much less ethanol for your liver to process. Within 20 to 30 minutes we felt completely fine, even after having had 4 shots in a row. So this creates an interesting dynamic where you basically front-load the fun, but have to keep replenishing it fairly often as you go. This is not a bad thing, however, since it creates movement in a group setting. We had parties where people were free to serve themselves and the machine proved to be quite popular, encouraging people to move around and mingle more, given the short half-life of your buzz.
So is the Vapshot Mini worth the $699 asking price? It depends on how you plan to use it. If you ever throw parties and are looking for a fun way to get people socializing and moving about, it’s perfect. People will freak out at the thought of breathing their drinks in, and the fact that they hit you instantly is super fun. You literally go from normal to inebriated in 5 seconds. It uses very, very little alcohol, which means your booze will go much further than normal.
And it’s just damn cool! You will literally be that guy with the alcohol vaping system. Basically, almost no one has these machines. They’re new, so the novelty will be very attractive to people.
However, it is a lot of money and does come with a fair number of minor flaws. From the awkwardly placed adjustment screw and liquid container, to the defective cap, the Vapshot Mini still feels like a early-adopter product. And while you do “get drunk” on it, you do have to take a fair number of shots to get a good effect. This is not a deal-killer, by any means, but something to consider when weighing the machine’s usefulness.
If you have some disposable income and are interested in trying out a novel way to lubricate your social events, the Vapshot Mini is a great idea, despite its minor flaws.
+ Relatively quiet operation
+ Gets you drunk instantly
+ Uses very little alcohol
+ Is super cool!
– Hard to reach adjustment screw and drink container
– Fabrication hiccups cause defective caps, sometimes
MSRP: $699 for white model, $899 for stainless steel model, $9 for each additional serving bottle.
UPDATE: In response to a conversation below, let me go on record stating that we did not in fact use 150 proof alcohol. The highest concentration we get normally up here in Canada is 80 proof. This is a fair point from VapShot and not something we considered when conducting the review. The main gripe that was felt with this machine was the fact that the shots felt weak and the buildup of drunkenness a bit slow. This made it hard to justify putting up with the other quirks, such as having to adjust alcohol/air mixture knobs, or filling up the tank with minor inconvenience. These are very minor issues by themselves, so had the alcohol been stronger, and had we felt the effects more strongly and faster, we might have painted a rosier picture of the overall value. The ability to get a user drunk is the pivotal point in its value proposition, and the absence of stronger alcohol in our review makes a significant impact in the validity of our initial conclusions.
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