Cecile: This sure doesn't taste like an iced tea.Someone drinks a drink he or she expects to have little, if any, alcohol. Instead, it turns out to be not only alcoholic, but very much so, resulting in the character getting plastered. This is Truth in Television, as some cocktails are formulated to minimize the alcohol flavor and can thereby catch an unsuspecting drinker off-guard — an oft-used player in this trope is the Long Island Iced Tea, which not only has an innocuous-sounding name but is also sweet enough to hide a usual alcoholic concentration of 22% and served in large but quickly-disappearing quantities (pint glasses or large highball glasses are the usual drinkware). But Liquor Is Quicker is this trope invoked by an unscrupulous suitor. I Drank What? occurs when the drinker imbibes something not meant for human consumption at all, though a teetotaler might have this reaction when learning what's in the drink. Contrast Drunk on Milk, where a mundane liquid actually does get the character drunk, and Fake High, where the effect is purely psychological. Related to Intoxication Ensues. Compare Slipping a Mickey, where someone intentionally drugs a beverage.
Sebastian: It's from Long Island.
Sebastian: It's from Long Island.
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Anime & Manga
- The Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid OVA had Tessa popping by Mao's quarters for a chat where Mao gave her something to drink. Cue next shot of Tessa lying on the couch passed out. Mao confessed the next day that the can contained alcohol which resulted in Tessa giving her an earful, doubly justified: not only is Tessa underage, she also happens to be Mao's superior officer (though the only stated reason was "alcohol destroys brain cells").
- In Naruto, this has happened to Rock Lee at least three times that we know of. It's never a good thing - especially since Lee is a nasty drunk.
- Negi gets this when he mistakenly is given sake. As Nitta put it, "Oh no, the crying begins."
- In the first Sound of the Sky OVA, the whole platoon gets drunk on spiked tea, with only the resident straight-man girl avoiding the effects (to her dismay).
- In The Vision of Escaflowne, Hitomi gulps down a pink liquid at a dinner...which turns out to be vino (likely wine). She's only 15 and likely hasn't had anything serious in her life to that point, so she gets very drunk.
- Sort of happened to Belldandy once in Ah! My Goddess. Of course, what she was drinking wasn't alcoholic at all (She had already consumed enough sake to drink everyone else at the party under the table without even getting buzzed) - it was cola.
- Justification: Belldandy is based on Verdandi: a Norse goddess. Like most mythos, Norse myth is based on traditions, and since Vikings enjoyed their drink, it's understandable that their gods and goddesses would be inhumanly tolerant. Cola was invented after their time, so she lacks experience with it. Her sister Urd on the other hand can get drunk on moderate amounts of alcohol.
- This happens to Usagi twice in Sailor Moon, in both cases because she mistakes alcohol for juice. First in the first season in an episode based directly on a manga chapter she winds up Kissing Under the Influence (bad Mamoru!). The second time occurs in the third season; this time she goes completely la-la at an upscale party for promising international students, and begins speaking gibberish in both Japanese and English. The American guests find her, and her "unique and refreshing" take on the intellectual subject matter they were discussing, delightful.
Usagi: (butting into a discussion on the theory of relativity) The pudding of relativity? Let's see... Well, in other words, you take milk, eggs and sugar, and stir it all up. Then you put a lid on it, and for about 30 minutes, you steam it... Oh! And if you forget the whipped cream, you're no good as a woman. Yeah.
- What's even more hilarious about these incidents is that Usagi normally takes no more than a couple of sips of the drink in question. Either that's some strong wine they're having or she's an utter lightweight.
- Shows up in the second Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire story.
Woman from Planetary Temperance League: Come, come, Mr. Godot, you don't think I'd allow you alcohol do you?Buck: It's milk.Woman from Planetary Temperance League: Mr. Godot, what kind of idiot do you think I... (Sips from glass) Why...it is milk. (Eyes dilate and she collapses)Louisa Dem Five: Vrang Beast milk?Buck: The very best Vrang Beast milk!Asteroid Al: Only kind I serve.Woman from Planetary Temperance League: *hic*
- In one Star Trek comic, Kirk insists that no alcohol be served at a party because of tensions on the ship; Scotty, McCoy, and Chekov all think this is unreasonable and each independently spike the drinks. As a result, two crewmen who normally don't drink at all get completely hammered and end up in a fistfight.
- Hack/Slash: In Girls Gone Dead, one of the party-goers feeds Cassie a Long Island Iced Tea, telling her that is nonalcoholic. As a result, she gets plastered and winds up flirting and dancing with boys, and is less than great shape for the final showdown when the slasher shows up.
- A Crown of Stars: In chapter 40 Shinji had a drink, not knowing that it was rum. Then he had another glass. Then he had another. And then a third one. It was then when Asuka mentioned she never would have figured him for a rum guy. Shinji got shocked, prompting her to tell "Are you seriously telling me you did not know it was alcohol?" That was when he realized he was feeling fuzzy and floaty and his head was buzzing.
- In You Got HaruhiRolled!, Emiri decides to liven up a sour Ryoko at a party by lacing her drink with a special type of data-program. Moments later, she is babbling about her misfortunes and even proceeds to make out with an equally-hammered Kyon.
- As the title of The Alcohol Adventures Of Team Satsifaction implies, there is a lot of high-percentage alcohol involved, but Yusei seems to be the only one who has gotten drunk without realizing it. The real unexpected sousing comes from the fact the the drinks have been spiked with some sort of aphrodisiac by a mysterious third party. Things escalate pretty quickly.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- In Carry On Cleo, Hengist drinks a liquid to calm his nerves and becomes a horny, over-confident man who destroys Cleopatra's bed by launching himself onto her.
- This trope turns up in a couple Buster Keaton movies.
- The Laurel and Hardy short "Them Thar Hills" had the pair taking a trailer out to the country, camping out at a cabin that had just been vacated by moonshiners who poured their liquor down the well while fleeing revenue agents. While Stan and Ollie enjoy the mountain water, a stranded motorist leaves his wife there while he hikes for gas. Coming back he finds the three of them whooping drunk - Hilarity Ensues.
- Yours, Mine, and Ours has a scene where Helen comes over to meet Frank's children, and orders a light screwdriver. Three of his sons, wanting to play a joke on her, spike her drink with extra alcohol, without knowing that each other is doing so. She becomes extremely drunk in the next scene, and Frank later comments that she was lucky she didn't die from such a concoction.
- Poison Ivy: The New Seduction. The villainess spikes a non-alcoholic drink with alcohol to make her targeted victims drunk. Then one of the victims adds even more alcohol without knowing the drink is already spiked. Both of the victims end up bombed out of their skulls.
- The Cruel Intentions films made this into something of a running gag, wherein a naive girl gets hammered drinking Long Island Iced Tea, which despite its name contains no tea, but does have an alcohol concentration of about 22 percent. Truth in Television as despite its high alcohol content it tastes and smells rather innocuous, leading to people unused to such strong drink getting drunk very quickly.
- In Anne of Green Gables, Anne gives her friend Diana what she thinks is raspberry cordial. Anne herself doesn't drink it (and a stuffy nose prevents olfactory identification), so she doesn't realize Diana's been chugging currant wine.
- Subverted in Witches Abroad. The witches are drinking absinthe, because Magrat recognizes the name as meaning wormwood and thinks it's a herbal drink. Afterwards Granny Weatherwax says "I'm sure there was alcohol in that. I definitely felt a bit woozy after the third glass."
- Played straight in The Last Continent, when Rincewind downs several Ecksian beers in quick succession. He'd assumed that its clarity meant it couldn't possibly be as strong as Ankh-Morpork beer, and was 100% wrong.
- Bill tries to get out of Morris dancing at the next village festival in exchange for helping Peggy Kitchen get rid of the archaeologist in Aunt Dimity Digs In. Peggy offers mead judging as a less time-consuming alternative; when Bill protests that he knows nothing about mead, she has publican Dick Peacock offer him samples—of twelve different kinds of mead. Derek Harris has to persuade Bill off the pub floor, off Bill's bicycle, and into his pickup truck to get Bill home. Next morning, Bill is still green about the gills and occasionally vomiting, and Derek's wife Emma brings homemade thyme honey and strawberry leaf tea for his hangover.
- In the novel A Kiss in Time, a princess who's just arrived from the 18th century goes to a party and doesn't realize that Jello shots are alcoholic.
- Parodied in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Sky Pirates!, in which Hard-Drinking Party Girl Benny Summerfield wakes up with a hangover and declares "Y'know, I'm positive there was alcohol in that scotch last night."
- In Winds of Fury, the infiltration team tries to invoke this trope when the town their carnival is visiting turns out to have a garrison of Ancar's elite guards. They urge the guards to drink as much of Firesong's "Magic Cure-All" (brandy with some herbs added) as possible, on the assumption that the guards aren't used to anything with that high an alcohol content. It works ... unfortunately the guards are mean drunks.
Live Action Television
- A bizarre use in Angel, Fred and Wesley end up totally drunk. After realizing this they consider how much alcohol they've actually consumed: zero and a third of a half a beer respectively. It turns out that Lorne's powers have temporarily transformed him into a Reality Warper and earlier he told them that it's a party, they should be drunk.
- Inverted twice on Arrested Development. Maebe ordered several virgin versions of alcoholic drinks, without realizing what the prefix actually means. Later she and George Michael drink from wine bottles that GOB has switched with something non-alcoholic in to a botched attempt to copy Jesus' water-into-wine trick.
- The Big Bang Theory Sheldon falls for the Long Island Iced Tea version, to the point that he wakes up Wil Wheaton to, "fight for my lady's honor."
- Near the end of the episode in which Penny first gets her job as a bartender, she slips Sheldon some "virgin diet Cuba Libre" (diet Coke) that "turned out to be a little slutty". He ends up singing show tunes and accompanying himself on the piano.
- Bones does this with a quasi-Noodle Incident: it's implied that Hodgins and Zack had spiked the punch at the July 4th party with (presumably very high-proof) alcohol they distilled in their lab, and that an embarrassing form of this was the result. Of course, it's a Noodle Incident, so exactly what happened is unclear.
- In an episode of Cafe Americain, a character sleeps overnight in a winery on a catwalk above the vats and ends up in inhaling wine fumes all night. He wakes up completely tanked. Hilarity Ensues as he was at the winery as part of an attempt to impress his finacee's family, who owned the winery.
- In an episode of Campion, the title character is made very drunk in an attempt to murder him. His enemy treats him to a sherry, then invites him to dinner and orders a magnificent wine — but neglects to mention that all alcohol must be out of the system before trying it. We are treated to several minutes of Campion reeling around London, laughing wildly, before he is pushed in front of a train.
- In an episode of The Closer, Charlie makes "special brownies" (laced with marijuana a friend of hers gave her) which Brenda proceeds to eat. She gets very stoned. Fritz is not amused, to say the least, when he finds out.
- F Troop had an episode where the tee-totaling Captain Parmenter is persuaded to take a cure for his cold that has a little alcohol in it, unaware that several members of his troop have innocently attempted to help him get better by secretly adding their own alcohol-based cures to the pot as well. This results in a completely soused Parmenter yelling "Happy New Year!" at Fort Courage's infamous cannon before setting it off himself in the traditional fashion.
- One episode of Get Smart had a KAOS agent (a master of disguise) pretending to be the Chief, with some...entertaining...results when he and the real chief were both in Smart's apartment at the same time. The two confusing buttermilk and brandy scenes (one Chief asks both Smart and 99 independently for a glass of buttermilk to settle his stomach, the other asks both independently for a glass of brandy to settle his nerves, and the one that asked for buttermilk keeps getting brandy).
- On Glee, April Rhodes tries to get on Kurt's good side by giving him crantinis (and vintage muscle mags) and telling him that they'll give him all the courage he needs. He doesn't seem to realize what he's drinking, although he learned enough by the end of the episode to become one of the only two non-drinkers in Glee.
Kurt: (Slurring) Oh Bambi... I cried so hard when those hunters shot your mommy.
- On an episode of Hustle, Sean is deliberately not drinking after nearly screwing up a con by being drunk. However, the mark spikes his orange juice with vodka, resulting in him getting drunk again.
- I Love Lucy: Vitameatavegimin. Take one somewhat alcoholic 'supplement', repeated filming takes, and a sample consumed each take.
- This apparently happened in Real Life as well, where a reporter took a sip of mead and then began his report—on one hand, he knew he was drinking something alcoholic. On the other, he didn't expect to require repeated takes, in which he got increasingly inebriated.
- Inverted in an episode of Mama's Family. Upon finally achieving her lifelong dream of going to Hawaii, Thelma's first act upon getting off the plane is to immediately hit the fruity frozen drinks. When a friend comments how many she's drinking, she casually mentions how she's always been able to hold her liquor. Hearing this, the waitress mentioned how all the beverages the hotel serves are non-alcoholic. This angers Thelma, who feels ripped off that she's been paying $4 a piece for nothing but fruit juice and chipped ice.
- Taken (comically) to the max in an episode of M*A*S*H, when Hawkeye and co. trick Frank into consuming so much alcohol he passes out.
- Monk, who drinks one sip of alcohol (specifically wine) once a year on his wedding anniversary, once ordered a bottle of non-alcoholic claret so he could appear to drink while talking to someone he suspected to be a murderer. As it happened, he ended up with regular old alcoholic claret and downed it all straight from the bottle. Hilarity, of course, ensued. "All these people are crinimals. They're crinimals."
- Neighbours had an episode where someone made a highly potent cocktail that he decided looked and tasted exactly like a smoothie - and downed it, with predictable consequences.
- An episode of Night Court had Christine drinking what she thought were iced teas, but were in fact Long Island iced teas. She ends up running into a door.
- On Parks and Recreation, everyone drinks Tom's "Snake Juice", which turns out to be 140 proof alcohol and highly caffeinated, leading to a montage of everyone totally drunk and crazy.
- Sherlock: In "The Sign of Three", Sherlock's plan to remain at the perfect level of inebriation at John's stag night is foiled by John secretly adding shots of vodka to the beer they are drinking. Hilarity Ensues.
- Donna on That '70s Show drank a Long Island Iced Tea thinking it was non-alcoholic.
- An episode of 30 Rock had Liz go out with her recovering alcoholic ex-boyfriend on the eve of his wedding. He orders salmon with sauce on the side, and soon starts acting drunk. Liz realizes that the sauce contains whiskey, which would normally be burned away during cooking, but because it was on the side he unknowingly got drunk. When she mentions this to an employee, he muses that it's a very popular dish with teenagers...
- Subverted in Babylon 5, when Londo buys the same drink - a light reddish liquid in a martini glass - for himself and Lennier, and when Lennier asks whether there's any alcohol in it, laughs it off as Lennier explains why Minbari don't drink alcohol. When he gets to "uncontrollable homicidal rages," Londo grabs the drink from his hand and pretends to have misheard the word.
- Guys and Dolls. Dulce de Leche has alcohol in it? "Only enough to act as a preservative," says Sky, but he's got Sarah already hooked by the time she asks. Enough alcohol to preserve or purify liquid may be enough to get you hammered.
- Inverted in The Real Inspector Hound. Two critics are watching a play. During intermission, one of them sneaks on stage to help himself to the liquor in the drawing room. He takes a gulp, and does a giant spit-take, exclaiming to the other critic, "It's tea!"
- In Albert Herring, Sid and Nancy spike Albert's lemonade with some rum at the May Day feast to "loosen him up and make him feel bright." Hilarity Ensues, but later it gets worse.
- A side mission in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City involves you getting a little too close to a pot full of very potent "boomshine". Not only is it so potent it explodes, blowing off one of Phil Cassidy's arms, but the very smell plasters you. Which isn't good, because you have to drive Phil to the doctor...before he bleeds out...while your view is all sloshed out and your car's handling is just as sloshed...and likely with a cop car chasing you because you're driving drunk.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, Niko can take one of the early girlfriends, Michelle, out on a date to a bar, and will invariably emerge absolutely twunted, commenting that the drinks were a lot stronger than he'd usually expect, with Michelle by contrast being stone cold sober. Most likely because she's a government agent, hoping that Niko will blurt out something about his and his cousin's criminal activities and associates.
- One time in Sabrina Online has Sabrina and Zig-Zag head out to a bar and Sabrina chugs down a number of Kahluas before realizing that the ones she normally drinks from the store have a lowered alcohol content than the one she has. The initial reaction suggests trouble◊, but fortunately, she's more of a silly and sleepy drunk.
- Twokinds: Strangely enough, the animal-like keidran have a low-alcohol tolerance. Maybe it has to do with their short lifespan/soldier genetics.
- In Tales of the Questor, Quentyn Quinn and his friends get horrendously plastered on blackberry sherry, which is considered to be lightly alcoholic. It turns out that it was homebrewed blackberry BRANDY and packed "enough wallop to knock a troll flat".
- Archipelago: Riley recounts a time when Tuff was given medicine with alcohol in it. The results...were hilarious. (except to Tuff)
- Happens again to Tuff in book 6. This time, it's intentionally being used against him.
- Demon Fist: If Rory has a few drinks, and so do his demon symbionts Shaise and Crag, and then they recombine...
- In Leftover Soup, Ellen accidentally gets intoxicated with nutmeg after bingeing on Jamie's "pumpkin bomb" nutmeg cookies.
- The Simpsons:
- Marge Simpson gets drunk from too much punch on the nuclear plant employee picnic. She's already had a few drinks before suspecting "there's a little bit of alkeyhol in this punch".
- In a later episode, she fell victim to the aforementioned Long Island Iced Tea.
- Later, Bart spikes Mrs. Krabappel's coffee with alcohol to get her to mellow out. It did get her drunk...and fired.
- In an episode of Daria, Jake and Helen reconnect with two college friends, Willow and Coyote Yeager, who are still hippies in contrast to the Morgendorfers' yuppie ways. Jake and Coyote start bonding over some berry juice, only to get drunk. The Yeagers' son informs them that the juice has fermented.
- It happens in the Looney Tunes cartoon, "Naughty But Mice" with Sniffles the Mouse (making his debut). He has a cold and wanders into a drug store looking for medicine. Unbeknownst to him however, the medicine he takes contains alcohol, and ends up drunk for the rest of the cartoon.
- Truth in Television, and also goes for lots of frozen or blended drinks. Daiquiris, pina coladas, frozen mudslides and the like are all notorious for containing large amounts of alcohol, the taste of which is covered by ice cream, fruit puree, chocolate or some combination thereof. It also doesn't help that chilling alcohol helps mask the taste. The drinker isn't apt to notice just how much they've had until they've gotten themselves well and truly loaded. There are a few Gargle Blasters (like Rocket Fuel) that go so far as to use dry ice to actually freeze the alcohol into a slush, taking this trope Up to Eleven since at this point the alcohol is practically tasteless and doesn't really kick in until it's been down your gullet long enough to thaw.
- Kahlua is a fairly potent spirit with a strong coffee flavour, which is good enough to drink neat if that's how you like it. Mix it with milk and you basically have alcoholic iced coffee of whatever strength you choose to make it, which is either a dream if you know (or have sober friends to tell you) when to stop, or a vomit-soaked nightmare if you don't.
- Can be inverted with the screwdriver: the taste is largely independent of the amount of vodka in it, so a bartender who doesn't want someone to get drunk can serve glasses of nearly pure orange juice, leading to a case of Unexpectedly Not Soused.
- Rum&Coke drinks have this effect on a large number of people. The taste won't give it away, but most glasses contain a full serving of rum. Added to that is the fact that the carbonation of the soda will force the alcohol into your system faster, so instead of technically diluting the rum, you've turbocharged it.
- Often happens to those who are suckered into drinking Long Island Iced Tea thinking it's nonalcoholic.
- Although this is probably a bit overstated in fiction. A Long Island Iced Tea being one of the most alcoholic commonly-served mixed drinks (at least in America), it's highly unlikely that someone wouldn't notice the high alcohol content after the first sip, particularly if they're an infrequent enough drinker (or, you know, have never seen this joke before) that they wouldn't know what one is.
- According to some older history books on the Middle Ages, a nobleman kept white wine on hand to "water" the drinks of guests who didn't want to drink full-strength (red) wine, and got a bishop's entire entourage totally sloshed this way. It's anyone's guess whether this really happened or if it was a cautionary tale mistaken for truth.
- Often happens when people drink on airplanes or just before getting on one, due to the altitude.
- Also in ski resort towns such as Boulder, Park City, or any Winter Olympics really.
- Alcopops, the massive amount of sugar in drinks like Bacardi Breezer hides the fact that a bottle contains about the same amount of alcohol as a bottle of beer. (Or a glass of wine, or a shot of whiskey.)
- Drinking from an ice luge (think: ice sculpture with a curved ramp for the liquor) does this VERY nicely, with the chill of the ice taking away the bite of the alcohol. It's very easy to get totally trashed without noticing how much alcohol you're consuming because it goes down icy cool and smooth.
- On the darker side, it's a somewhat common habit by sexual predators to keep refilling their target's glass so the target loses track of how much they're drinking. Basically, Slipping a Mickey without the Mickey.
- Similarly, but without the malice, word to the wise for anyone who goes drinking with a Japanese Salaryman: It's customary to keep refilling your buddy's drink whenever it gets low, so if you're not paying attention you can put away way more sake than you intend and end up on the floor.
- People can get unexpectedly drunk if they consume alcohol on an empty stomach. Food soaks up the alcohol you drink and helps draw out the effect, turning a sudden stupor into a prolonged buzz.
- Zombies (aka Bahama Mamas) are infamous for bringing this about; while its alcohol content is positively astronomical due to the fact that it's primarily just rum and various liqueurs, the sweet, fruity smoothness does an exceptionally good job at covering it, leading to people wondering how one glass full of yummy tropical goodness could cause them to have trouble even staying upright and not falling from their barstool, let alone being able to walk unassisted and speak in an even vaguely coherent and intelligible manner.
- Drunken gummy bears. Made by soaking gummy bears in vodka for two days, these little guys absorb quite a bit of alcohol without losing their sweet taste. So it's easy to forget that eating several is equivalent to a shot of pure vodka, and eating too many at once can lead to this trope.
- An Illinois company called the Small Town Brewery makes a product called "Not Your Father's Root Beer", a throwback to the origins of root beer, and besides a stronger kick and slight alcohol undercurrent doesn't taste much different than the soft version of the drink. It's very easy to drink more than one or simply not realize it's alcoholic and suddenly realize your legs don't work when you try to stand up. And that's just the commonly available 5.9% alcohol version, since they also have limited edition 10.7% versions and one that's 19.5%, which is sure to put you out if you drink too much.
- Subverted by teekkarivanukas (literally "techie pudding"), another of those innovations of Helsinki U. of Technology. It is basically jellified ethanol. It is prepared by warming an unopened bottle of strong alcoholic beverage on water bath up to 90-95 deg C, then opening it, pouring it into a cake mold and dissolving as much leaf gelatin leaves as it can take. Once all leaves have dissolved, a lid is put on to prevent ethanol from evaporating and the mold is put to refrigerator. The result is pudding-like jelly which is eaten with a spoon. Usually the eaters will not realize it is all booze and get unsurprisingly soused. Cream liqueur is especially suitable for this stuff.
- Korean Soju, is notorious for this due to the fact that just about anything can effectively mask its taste, which adds to its' Gargle Blaster reputation amongst American military personnel who get it mixed with various juices, rather than drinking it straight. It's not helped that the drinker doesn't normally feel it if he or she is sitting down and only notices when they stand up.
- Had a small, but influential role in the founding of Seattle. Arthur Denny, the primary landowner in the area, was a moral crusader and a teetotaler. One of his rival landowners, "Doc" Maynard was the town doctor. Denny disapproved of Doc's love of the sauce, status as a divorced man, and other lifestyle choices. But Denny got sick and had to get Doc's help. Maynard decided to use laudanum (opium suspended in high-proof booze) as part of Denny's treatment. Denny was both sick and had no tolerance. So while Denny was plastered, Maynard started talking real estate. Denny recovered (and sobered up) to realize too late he had "paid" for Doc's services with what is now Pioneer Square!