Talk:Snakebite (drink)

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Anyone know why it's called 'snakebite'?

Probably because of the head-splitting hangover induced by mixing beer and cider alcohol. You won't die, but you may wish you were dead. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 23:05, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Probably because (I think), the poison you suck out of a snake bite (or at least the majority of them) is the same colour (roughly) as the drink. Hence "snakebite". I might be completely wrong, but I remember having been told that.( 12:18, 17 February 2007 (UTC))
For one, there is no physiological difference between the consumption of beer and cider together and individually. Second, you can't "suck the poison" out of a snakebite, this is a silly myth perpetuated by old Westerns. The name most likely arises either just because its a good name for a drink, or perhaps because the sweetness of the drink causes people to drink more and therefore end up with a hangover. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Philvarner (talkcontribs) 01:34, 18 February 2007 (UTC).

I don't know where the name snakebite orginates. However, the name diesil refers to the colour of the drink when blackcurrent is added. In the UK industrial diesil is dyed a reddish colour. This is because it is subject to diferent taxian laws, therefore a driver running a domestic car on industrial diesil can be identified when the fuel is syphoned off. This is illegal. Anyway the colour of 'snakebit and black' is close to that of red diesil, hence the name diesil.Browners83 21:44, 12 October 2007 (UTC)


Ok there are a few things I've heard about this but I'm not sure if any are true

  • Snakebite has a variable alcohol content because of a reaction that unpredictably either produces or removes alcohol from the drink on mixing
Anyone know what the reaction actually is?
Absolute rubbish

An example of a Half Larger(4%vol) and Half Cider(6%vol) mix. To caluclate the strength of your snakebite the avrage is taken of the alchol volume in the ingradiants. For our example it would be 5% Vol. You DO NOT add the two %vol values togeather. This missunderstanding is the reason that pubs don't sell snakebite.

My two penn'orth as a chemist with 20 years post grad experience: Im not sure why anyone would think that you should add tghe two %vol values together. I mean, if you mix 1 weak cup of tea with another weak cup of tea, do you end up with 1 large cup of strong tea? No. Both larger and cider are basically mixtures of alcohol, water, and some fruit (or grain) extracts, mix the two together and NOTHING happens. If people do get more drunk on snakebites it is probably just because its easier to drink (the gassiness and/or bitterness of the lager is reduced when the mixing is done). It is essentially no different in concept from something like "Mild & bitter" (two types of beer mixed together). SM UK 23:19, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

  • Pubs in the UK are banned from serving it because of this (they don't know how much alcohol they're selling).
Ditto - I am from the UK and can confirm that it is sold freely
  • Some pubs sell in anyway
Well, yes.
  • Loads of others (eg. all the studenty pubs that don't sell it straight) will sell snakebite and black beccause it's not specifially banned, hence the popularity of this version.
Again, absolute rubbish. There is no ban.
I once worked as a bartender at a student bar, and we were banned from serving snakebite (by management, not law). This forced the obvious workaround: the "DIY snakebite" (half of lager, half of cider, pint glass).

Anyone know any more?

Quiries asked by: —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 16:00, 12 July 2006 (UTC).
replies given by: —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 20:01, 21 July 2006 (UTC).

I was once told at a bar that they couldn't server a snakebite and black because they didn't have a cocktail license. But i cant find any mention of such a thing under the 2003 licensing act so it is probably BS.--Pypex 02:51, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I was also told while working a bar that we were unable to sell it because you needed a cocktail licence, thought i don't know the exact law on the matter i was told that you needed the licence to mix drinks with alcohol in them, but we were aloud to do 2 half pint glasses, one of cider and black and one of larger and give them a pint glass.

Also Have heard rumours that the combination of cider blackcurrent and larger creates another drug other than alcohol if left long enough, any one know anything furthur about this?

Any alcohol mixed with a sugary drink (e.g. blackcurrant squash etc) will ferment given time (and a lack of oxygen) and thus change alcohol content, btu I dont' think that's what you mean. Possibly, lots of the tiems management won't serve it to cover their backs. The local pub to us don't mix drinks, just because they don't want anyone getting pissed off mixing their drinks. Jacobshaven3 04:03, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

>> The above is not true: mixing alcohol with a sugary drink will not cause fermentation. Yeast is essential for the fermentation process, so the drink must contain live yeast which causes the sugars to ferment. One of the products of fermentation is alcohol...

This was posted to the article, which restates the belief that it is illegal to serve the drink in British pubs, but after reading all the comments above, I think it is incorrect:

This is a popular drink in the United Kingdom, especially in England, as well as other parts of the world. Mixing Snake Bite is prohibited by law in certain areas, but enforcement tends to vary greatly. Some bars will serve a Snake Bite over the bar, no questions asked, whereas others even in the same area, may refuse to serve a Snake Bite, some going as far as to prohibit patrons from mixing their own (by ordering a half pint of lager and a half pint of cider with black currant).

I have grown tired of watching the back-and-forth unsubstantiated claims, so I re-wrote the section this way:


In some jurisdictions, places that serve beers, wines, or ciders require an additional or different liquor license to serve mixed drinks. As a result, some bars and pubs do not serve snakebites, stating it would be illegal to do so. Others sell the individual components for the drink, but will not served them mixed. Some proprietors refuse to serve snakebites because of how drunk and violent people sometimes become after consuming them.[citation needed]

In June, 2001, former U.S. President Bill Clinton was refused the drink when he ordered one at a pub in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.[1]

It is essentially original research, since I have just condensed what has been debated here and applied a little logic to the matter. As with most OR, it could be complete rubbish. Feel free to delete what I wrote, or better yet, find some proof for what has been stated by either side or my middle of the road summary, and cite it. I tried, but the only references I could find to it being illegal were excerpts from the Wikipedia article itself. Lots of references to real bites from snakes. But nothing that supports or denies either side's claim.

The 2003 Licensing Act [2] refers to the selling of 'alcohol', which it defines in section 191 as 'spirits, wine, beer, cider or any other fermented, distilled or spirituous liquor'. Nowhere does it subdivide the license or categories of alcohols, nor does it mention any mixing of different types; there is no such thing as a separate cocktails license, thus the act does not outlaw snakebite. Mixing of drinks is mentioned in the The Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order 1988 [3], but only in the context of specifically allowing it.

If some bartender tells you it's illegal, ask him or her to cite the actual law (be sure not to be a smart alec about it) so you can look it up for us. Good luck. --Willscrlt 04:33, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

My understanding of the UK situation is this: a pint of snakebite as in half-cider, half-lager is a legal drink to serve, but some outlets / organisations choose not to serve it (they have no legal obligation to serve you *anything*) because of the reputation the drink has. By the same token, they can block stealthy/DIY snakebites (ordering the drinks seperately) at their discretion, if they notice drinkers doing it.

Conversely, snakebite and black is technically an illegal drink to serve because of a law that public houses must serve drinks in certain measures (e.g. for spirits, 25 or 35ml multiples; for beer, by the pint or fractions thereof). Check near the bar next time you're in a UK pub, they have a plaque on display somewhere with the basics on it. Now, a snakebite and black features slightly less than half a pint of beer, the same of cider, and some blackcurrant cordial. Technically these are not UK legal measures for serving alcohol in a public house - so this drink is, in fact, not legal. I don't believe this law is closely enforced however, because it would technically make lager & lime (and other 'tops') illegal! Dantheman123 12:19, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

This is incorrect; The Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order 1988 [4] states in section 2: "...except when sold as a constituent of a mixture of two or more liquids, beer or cider shall be sold by retail...only in a quantity of 1/3 pint, 1/2 pint or a multiple of 1/2 pint;", so if you order, say, a lager top, the landlord is no longer bound to stick to the quantities specified, and can mix as much or as little of the the liquids as he sees fit. 13:20, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

I work in a popular chain of student bars nationwide and the offical line is that it isent 'illegal' to sell snakebite, and indeed we do sell it mixed.. However we have the right not to sell it if we choose, usually after 9pm on a weekend, Because people can drink it very quickly and get very drunk.

Some possibly useful history: when I was at a UK University in the early 1980s, snakebite was a very common student drink. For some reason, the tabloid papers (especially The Sun as I recall) picked up on this "new killer drink" and ran several stories about how someone dropped dead after drinking one and similar nonsense. It was after this that the snakebite gained its reputation, and many pubs put up signs saying "No Snakebites". Although the tabloids have long since moved on to other targets, snakebite's reputation remains along with various incorrect statements about it being illegal to sell. Royhills 15:51, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm at university now (Exeter), and it's the policy here not to sell Snakebite, or allow its creation, in the student bars. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 08:12, 27 April 2007 (UTC).

I have never known a bar not to serve snakebite or snakebite and black, not to say this doesn't happen, it just hasn't been my experience. However, when I was a university there was a variant known as 'turbo diesil' where two shots of vodka where added. This is obviously a 'leathal' mix an would only be severed in the diy form ie, snakebite and black (diesil) with a separate double vodka.Browners83 21:52, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

The Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order 1988:

(3) Nothing in this article shall make unlawful the sale at the express request of the buyer of any mixture of liquids containing any of those liquors in a quantity not otherwise permitted by this article.

Therefore, it's all legal. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:49, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Snakebite's have a reputation for being a drink which makes you violent after drinking them and are not served in some bars/pubs at the managements discretion, but in fact are legal to sell. The rumour that snakebite's turn you violent and/or extremely drunk can be argued against the fact that drinking any alcoholic drink in large quantities and in a very fast amount of time can have the same effect. But the term 'he was drinking snakebite's all night' has stuck and because of this the drink now has a certain reputation, a reputation that only nutters drink snakebite's. This i believe is why you can buy them at some bars/pubs and not others. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:32, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

I've added several citation needed tags to the article. From what has been said above, it would appear that it is not illegal to serve in the UK (there appears to be a reference for this). The article makes the suggestion that perhaps since it is a mix of beer and cider it need be served in the measures for beer. Again, above it is suggested that this is not the case, since the requirements for pint (and 1/3 and 1/2 pint) measures does not apply to mixtures. Thus, I've put in a citation needed tag for that line. From what is in the article and what is said above, its availability (or rather lack of) is due to beliefs that barstaff/publicans might have about its nature (more intoxicating or more likely to lead to antisocial behaviour), again this does need a citation. Personally, I am dubious that it is more intoxicating or substantially easier to drink than straight cider or beer. There might be another reason for the reluctance of some premises to sell this beverage. (talk) 02:31, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

Round our way Snakebites were half hard cider and half strong lager, preferably Strongbow and Carlsberg Special brew. The relatively high alcohol content and ease of drinking did make it a powerful beverage. Bartenders would usually be wary of groups of teenagers ordering Snakebites. Lots of pubs would occasionally refuse to serve the drink because of the reputation but there was no legal ban. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:56, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

Black Velvet comment[edit]

Here it says that Snakebite with black is sometimes called the poor man's Black Velvet, but Black velvet is Stout (generally Guiness) with champagne, with Poor man's Black velvet being Stout with Cider. If no one opposes, I'm editing the page. this is jut an explanation why I'm changing it. And could people try to use the ~~~~ four tildes please, it was confusing reading that all just now. Jacobshaven3 04:03, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

No opposition here. I read that and wondered about it, too. Not wanting to make a bad situation worse, I left it alone (I know nothing about the drink). Since you seem interested in the topic, I'd encourage you to join the WikiProject Cocktails, or at least read and comment in the talk area. Thanks! --Willscrlt 04:16, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
Futher expanded this definition Philvarner 08:33, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Blue Sourz?[edit]

Anon user added

With Blue Sourz Known for it's very high alcohol content. Commonly referred to as a "Blue Mod" or an, "I Went Back in Time and Voted For Hitler", especially in the North East of England.

  • First, this is wrong because Blue Sourz is 30 proof, which means that it could be "very high" compared to beer, but not compared to a cocktail.
  • Second, googling reveals no hits. Likely a single bar creation.
  • User doesn't clarify if this is just beer and BS (ironic that it has the same initials as something else...) or a proper snakebite and BS.


Removal of Green Monster[edit]

Since there has been no citation added I removed the text. As well as no citation, I personally have been to uni's in the north and south of england and have never heard of Green monster, and when I checked online I only could find cocktails called Green Monster, never a snakebite mixer (I found one on, but since the text described it as a British drink I used Jacobshaven3 19:42, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

I was a student in London in the 80s. A Snakebite with Blue Curacao was called a Green Monster in our hall of residence bar. I believe the comment was correct - but obv. a citation would still be needed before reintroducing the text. Ros0709 21:51, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I've come across Green Monsters (or similar names e.g. Green Nasty) in a few places; the ingredient varies but it's essentially a way of turning snakebite a more outrageous colour and masking the taste a bit, basically a variation on snakebite and black (hence the similarity in alternate names). I doubt you'll find any citations, though, as it's likely to be one of those things that either spreads by word of mouth or separate places come up with independently. It's not too hard a concept to come up with, afterall! 12:26, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
At a student bar at my Uni (Uni of Manchester, Bar at OP) they sell a drink called Green Monster, its a shot of something blue, a bottle of tropical reef, and then topped up to a pint with cider. Barnjo (talk) 18:14, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
Back when I was a Penniless Student Oaf in the 80's, the result of mixing a snakebit with a Pernod & Black was known as a Purple Nasty.Mr Larrington (talk) 14:51, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

I believe I was present at the invention of the Green Monster, an informal (very!) cocktail inventing competition in a pub called The Gamecock in Peterlee, Nort-East England. The drink got a lot of interest because of it's colour and we were all amazed how quickly it spread around the region and beyond. I don't remember the year exactly, only that it was between 1982 and 1985. I don't know how this squares with Ros0709, was he/she a student in London before or after this date? The ingredients were Sweet Cider, Trophy Bitter and Blue Curacao but the Bitter was soon replaced by Lager, due to people describing the drink to confused bar staff as a Snakebite with Curacao. There was also an ongoing dispute as to whether the original recipe included a shot of Vodka or not. NorthernGit (talk) 11:37, 3 October 2008 (UTC)


"Popular in the North East of England, this cocktail is known as either a "Blue Mod" or an "I supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War"."

I think that second name needs some explanation. Either that, or somebody's inserted it to be random.

I'm a Southerner, so to me it could be either. WikiReaderer 22:15, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

I've heard of it, but never tried one. --EelJuice 18:45, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Franco supporters were known as "blueshirts" which might have something to do with it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:27, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Split article[edit]

I would like to see this article split in two. Namely "Snakebite" and "Beer cocktail". Most of the drinks listed here have absolutely nothing to do with snakebite. Perhaps we could also take some of the nonsense out of the "Black velvet" article and put it into the "Beer cocktail" article as well. Thoughts anyone? TINYMark (Talk) 19:19, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Oops! Did I say the "black velvet" article? I meant the Guinness article :-) TINYMark (Talk) 19:21, 1 December 2007 (UTC)


I was informed by a bar manager that the reason many places will not serve it is because there is a chance of a rare allergic reaction to the mixture. He said that he had read an article in the publicans magazine about this. Anyone got any ideas on this? (talk) 14:36, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

It can't be true - there's no reaction of any kind that could take place between the ingredients in the short time from pint to mouth. Unless you were allergic to one of the constituents it would have no effect beyond the normal. The reason that British pubs and bars (except for ones in a student area) don't like to serve it is that it's very easy to drink (especially with black!) You can pour them down your throat - but your still getting hammered. They'd rather you took a pint of lager and drank it slowly than got a snakebite and got subsequently all over the bar. Caseykcole (talk) 17:18, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject Food and drink Tagging[edit]

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Field Hockey[edit]

"Snakebite and Black is the drink of choice for field hockey players and supporters, especially during hockey festivals" Can this be sourced? It seems like this fact is probably based on a particular locality or even an inside joke... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:30, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

It's also repeated for one or two other variations including a fruit flavoured addition. Grunners (talk) 17:45, 23 September 2008 (UTC)


It looks like someone is editorializing here:

"Guinness & Harp This combination is commonly known as a Half and Half or, erroneously, Black and Tan, which is made with Guinness and bitter."

Black and Tan is a perfectly legitimate name, as is discussed on the Black and Tan page (along with citations from the OED). I think it's cute that someone tried to slip a little political statement in here, but this really isn't the place. Agatehawk (talk) 23:56, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

The Drinker, Not the Drink.[edit]

As an avid consumer of snake bite (in moderation) I'd like to say:

1) Snakebite is better with a rougher cider - it should go a milky/cloudy white when mixed with the lager.

2) Usually, It's the actions of a snakebite sozzled drinker that cause the drink to be banned in pubs.

TTFN Chunner (talk) 20:27, 18 May 2010 (UTC)


In New Zealand, Snakebites typically come with a dash of raspberry cordial. We wouldn't call a cider/beer mixture a Snakebite unless it had the raspberry cordial. I've only ever had UK customers ask after the blackcurrant cordial version... maybe there should be a heading for country differences? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:58, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

agreed Pjaymes (talk) 23:01, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Do you have a citation for the NZ version with raspberry cordial? It would be good to add this to create a more worldwide view on this page. --Pjaymes (talk) 23:35, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Snakebite is NOT a shandy[edit]

Every definition of "shandy" outside wikipedia defines the term as a mix of beer and a non-alcoholic beverage, usually lemonade. Therefore a snakebite, being a mix of two alcoholic beverages, cannot be a shandy. Thus the erroneous name of this page needs to be has been changed and the reference to the erroneous definition of "shandy" removed. And yes, the wikipedia page on "Shandy" also has big issues. Pjaymes (talk) 23:00, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Note: Page name was later changed. Snakebite (drink) is I think a suitable NPOV description, no need for debates about whether it is a beer cocktail, shandy or anything else ----Pjaymes (talk) 00:10, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Yukon liquor based drink and other variants[edit]

Rather than polluting this snakebite article with the North American Liquor/Whiskey based shooters, create a new one "Snake Bite (shooter)" and maybe we can think of something to rename this one to that's more specific than "Snakebite (drink)", we can also add a distinguish tag to both. Pjaymes (talk) 02:22, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Long chain alcohol[edit]

Years ago I heard that the reason some places banned it was because "the two drinks combined make long chain alcohol, which can be poisonous to some and cause anti-social behaviour". This page says nothing about it: I've drunk it many many times (drinking it now!) and have never been swayed towards anti-social behaviour. One experience that I can share though is that myself and work colleagues discovered (while working in Wiltshire) that if you have 2-3 pints of the local cider brews (typically around 7-8% ABV) and then have 1 pint of lager or ale, the lager or ale will hit you like a brick. There is definitely something going on. We found it much safer to just continue drinking the cider :) Yevad (talk) 19:05, 9 May 2016 (UTC)