I've been delighted with vacations in Mexico from year to year at resorts such as Iberostars and Secrets, but I'm puzzled by the taste of spirits & wine at these high-profile all-inclusives. I know the taste profile of beverages like Crown Royale, Johnnie Walker Blue, Grand Marnier, cabernets, and chardonnays as well as how my body digests them.

While trying many variations of these drinks (neat, on-ice, with water), I am completely sure that there is something diluting them, but its not water (or mexican water). It's more clever than that, but I can't identify it. A pure and sweet cognac like grand marnier tastes dirty. Vodka martinis out of a grey goose bottle have an almost electrical zing that shouldn't be there. The Jonnie Walker blue should have a floral oaky finish, but there's a walloping decay of self-destructing bitter. The house wines have a flavor I would describe as zombie-like (neither dead or alive), and 2 hours later I have the worst heart burn. I don't get this normally.

The effects of the alcohols on my body are also different, when compared on a full stomach. Normally, vodka takes its time to show cognitive effects, then exponentially spikes up; at these resorts its more constant, linear. Two fingers of scotch normally hacks away steadily at my introverted nature until the tree falls and I'm inviting people to dance; at these resorts, there's barely a lead-in with a moderate wallop later on.

Is this common in Mexico or other international all-inclusives? What's going into the alcohol?

  • 4
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about bar management practices.
    – Karlson
    Dec 18 '14 at 16:23
  • 1
    Did you ask the bartender?
    – Gayot Fow
    Dec 18 '14 at 17:00
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    @GayotFow The simplest way to do it is to get cheap tequila or any other local liquor and just mix the 2. And what bartender would tell you he isn't serving the real thing.
    – Karlson
    Dec 18 '14 at 17:32
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    @Karlson I think most travellers would be interested to know if a given country is known for dilluted alcohol. Just like knowing about crime in Japan is not a question for Demographics.SE.
    – JonathanReez
    Dec 19 '14 at 0:15
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    @Karlson, I think it's (now) arguably on topic, although maybe too broad I'm not sure there's a definitive answer here.
    – SpaceDog
    Dec 19 '14 at 2:23

The truth is, if there is something, it could be anything, there's no one answer. There is some sort of wide perception that all-inclusives water down their drinks, it may or may not be true and it may or may not be wide-spread. Generally what I'd expect is just selling super-weak cocktails, the same trick that many 'free drink for doing X' places use.

However, in Mexico and surrounding countries there does seem to be a serious problem with adulterated booze. Scarily there's been reports of methanol being added to drinks there and people getting sick or dying from it.

Is that what was happening to you? Short of a full analysis of the drink, nobody can answer that. As the comments above say, it's probably just mixed with a cheaper version of the same drink -- or perhaps it's entirely a cheaper version with the labels switched.

Alternatively, if the drinks are locally produced they may just be made differently. Different countries sometimes target different alcohol levels which would impact the taste as will certain local ingredients. I assume these are imported products, but maybe not. Even if they're supposed to be imported they may be selling locally made knock-offs -- this doesn't seem to be that much of a problem in Mexico apart from fake tequila.

But also notice that your perception of taste is altered by your surroundings, which could be a factor here. And once you've decided that the place is mixing in something your expectation will also influence what you taste. Senses are weird.

Finally surroundings and expectation also have an effect of the 'type of drunk' you get.

So, it could all be in your head, it be locally made booze with local differences, it could be knock-off booze, it could be cheaper booze, I hope it's not methanol.

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