Torpedo Juice October 27 2012

During the wars years, the U.S. Navy's submarine crews would be away from civilization—and alcoholic beverages—for long periods. It so happens, however, that submarine torpedoes were powered by steam engines that ran on 180 proof ethyl alcohol. In the spirit of American ingenuity, sailors would regularly skim a little, and before long they'd have collected enough to throw a cocktail party 600 feet under the sea. The alcohol was mixed with pineapple juice (or whatever they could find), and the concoction was said to have quite a kick. Eventually the Navy got wise and began adding poisonous methanol and dye to the fuel in an effort to discourage this practice. Determined sailors found a way to mostly remove the additives by filtering the alcohol through a hard loaf of bread, but ingesting enough methanol actually led to blindness in some crew. Later the Navy reportedly replaced the methanol with Croton oil. This blend wouldn't cause blindness, but did lead to painful cramps and violent stomach reactions, so sailors eventually devised crude stills called "Gilly stills" to separate the alcohol from the poison. The introduction of electric powered torpedoes (no alcohol required) mostly put an end to all of this, but smaller quantities of denatured alcohol were still kept aboard for use by various crew as a cleaning agent, so it's likely torpedo juice lived on in one form or another. If you want your own taste of torpedo juice without cramps and loss of vision, we recommend replacing the 2 parts ethyl alcohol with 180-proof rum and mixing with 3 parts pineapple juice. Feel free to tweak and peak your own recipe. Carry on. Try it. Let us know what you think.