So, we begin with possibly the stupidest of all pub myths. That it is illegal to serve a snakebite.
Quite an easy one to debunk this, given that it is, of course, not illegal to serve a snakebite. In fact, if we apply any rational thought whatsoever to it, it’s a ridiculous conceit. It is hard for us to imagine MPs debating this issue in a lengthy commons session, especially whilst the Long Island Ice Tea remains at large.
But this myth persists, and in my experience the snakebite brings out an inexplicably law-fearing side to otherwise anarchic barstaff. They will quite happily be smoking heroin in the toilets and stealing money from the till, but pity the customer who has the temerity to ask for a snakebite. The same feckless, scruffy barman will become the essence of victorian outrage. “Ow dare you sir! It’s more than my jobs worth sir!” And armed with his legal faux-fact will proceed to make the customer feel like he’s just ordered a pint of child-pornography.
If one were to persist with something diplomatic like “Dont be daft. Pour me a snakebite you little muppet” the barman would almost certainly drop the bomb… “I can’t sir. I’d love to sir. If it was up to me sir. But it’s actually … ILLEGAL!”
As you stand there, all of your common sense is telling you that a snakebite being illegal has got to be grade one b*llocks, but as you don’t know that for absolutely, absolutely sure, the average punter will begrudginly accept the barman’s claim and shuffle off.
However, if one appears grimly determined to imbibe this satanic concoction, they may offer you a loophole. Whilst they themselves will refuse to mix the snakebite for fear of a heay jail term, they may offer to supply the separate components so you can construct one yourself.
Shaking his head in digust he will place on the bar…
- one half pint of lager in a pint glass
- one half pint of cider in a half glass
You can then stand guiltily at the bar like an Iranian nuclear scientist and mix it yourself . The landlord may insist you sign a declaration pledging this snakebite will only be used for drinking and not to destabilise the region or threaten Israel.
Quite why how mixing one 4.5% liquid with another somehow produces 89% hooch is beyond me. And chemistry.
I assume mixing say, 4.5% cider with 4% lager will get you a liquid somewhere around 4.3%. Surely then, we can also debunk the theory that it “gets you well pissed” as in the above scenario, as a cider drinker, it is actually making your drink 0.2% less strong.
It is also worth noting that for some reason cider always seems to be considered the most dangerous and anarchic element of the snakebite, as if it’s somehow leading the lager astray into all of this madness.
A little local research reveals that some landlords still do indeed refuse to serve snakebite, and some even propogate the illegality myth as an easy way to discourage certain types of drinkers – eg school-children, hooded youths, students, lightweights, two-pint screamers, florists, ramblers, christians etc from over-consuming and becoming a nuisance.
Also, I am reliably informed that snakebite based vomitus laced with its trusty companion blackcurrant is a bugger to get out of a pub carpet compared to say, a watery chundering of pilsner.
Anyway, in short, it is not, and never has been illegal to serve a snakebite. That’s just stupid.
However, this shouldn’t really make any difference to you. And if it does, why the hell are you drinking a snakebite anyway? Get some ale down your neck.