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Jun 29, 2007 01:13 PM


I've been making cordials for a couple of years with varying bases: rum, vodka, brandy. But I've read that everclear's lack of taste draws more flavoring out of the fruits and spices I've been using. It seems, however, difficult to track down. All sources seem to say something along the lines of "Everclear, which is illegal in several states including California, can be used thusly ..."

I ask you, which states is it legal? I'm in Rhode Island, for instance.

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  1. i'm pretty sure it's legal in RI

    1. When I was in high school in RI (10+ years ago) we used to drink Everclear mixed with Tang (yes, very ill-advised). While it was certainly illegal for me to be drinking, I don't believe the Everclear was contraband. :)

      eta: According to wiki, it's illegal in California, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

      5 Replies
      1. re: gracem

        but wiki is using as a source someones personal website dated to 1991. When I tracked the source down, it lists 6 states as definitely illegal, 6 states as definitely legal (not including RI) and that leaves a heck of a lot of them out in limbo.

        1. re: gracem

          Wiki is not always a reliable resource. You can find it in Florida.

          1. re: gracem

            It is not illegal in Florida I bought it today

            1. re: kitkat4478

              You know, people in florida have waiting 7 years to find that out. ;)
              Sorry couldn't resist

            2. re: gracem

              Everclear and Tang sounds like a potential great drink, especially if the Tang is mixed triple strength

            3. i live in ny, where it cannot be sold and buy it in ct, where it seems to be plentiful.

              1. Vodka should have a lack of taste. At least, to be sold in the US as "vodka" the government requires it to have no distinctive odor or taste.

                Everclear comes in two strengths: 190 proof which is not legal to buy here in California and 151 proof which is available everywhere. I'm not sure what the difference between the 151 proof everclear and 151 proof grain vodka is and there's no big difference in price. I normally use Smirnoff 151 for cordials since it comes in a nice bottle I can reuse.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                  I believe the main difference would be the brand name.

                  Something I found out about recently with Everclear... you can't make 200 proof alcohol. If you had some, it would absorb water from the air until it reached 190 proof.

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    This is fascinating. What's your source on this JK? I have slightly different information. My source was my physicist father who's chemist father bootlegged as a favor during prohibition. He said that you may find grain alcohol that goes up too 198 proof, but not to touch anything over 190. Below 190, the impurities are water. Above that, and your impurites are benzene. Can you come up with a logical theory that ties both together? After all, we both have a limit of 190 proof.

                    1. re: thinks too much

                      a couple of bartending books and wikipedia. Not the absolute most reliable, but it was a start.

                      1. re: taco clandestino

                        For chemical synthesis pure EtOh is available. It is quite costly, and highly regulated. Any plant capable of making it is more than capable of ensuring it has no impurities.

                        1. re: thinks too much

                          There's a limit of about 193 proof (or 96.5% alcohol by volume) for alcohol that has been distilled from a mixture of ethanol and water. The reason is that a mixture of 89% ethanol (by mass) and 11% water (by mass) is called an azeotrope, and the two constituents of the mixture can no longer be separated by regular distillation alone. The reason the proof number isn't exactly double the percentage number is because proof is calculated using percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and the percentage I'm listing here is by percent by mass. This is further complicated by the fact that a mixture of ethanol and water actually has a smaller volume than the total volume of the pure ethanol and pure water that it contains due to molecular interactions (I'm not entirely sure that this is true for all ratios of ethanol to water, or even if it's true at the 89:11 ratio, but I suspect that it is and it could be time consuming to research). Also, proof numbers are calculated differently in England and the United States.



                          And yes, if you do manage to get something with a higher percentage of pure ethanol, it will absorb water from the atmosphere (unless it's tightly sealed) until it is 89% ethanol and 11% water by mass. I'm not sure how quickly this process would occur.

                          Removing water from the azeotropic mixture is probably as simple as adding a drying agent that will adsorb/absorb the water from the mixture, but of course the ethanol will absorb water from the atmosphere unless it's in a tightly sealed container.



                          I'm a chemical engineering student and this is the kind of stuff we learn in school.

                    2. If you're in RI, take a drive up 95 to NH. It's sold at state liquor stores there, but not in MA or CT. I don't think it's legal in RI, just call a liquor store to double-check.