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Discreet Drink Disposal

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Some people's idea of "discreet" is a little looser than others.

Heroes will every once in a while be offered a drink that they'd rather not partake of. Maybe they don't trust the one who gave it to them because they were nervously fiddling with a big ring while they poured the drink. Maybe it's paint stripper-grade rotgut from a local Hillbilly Moonshiner. Maybe they are The Teetotaler, Can't Hold His Liquor, or need to be on the top of their game for an upcoming fight, and can't just say so without giving something away. Whatever the reason, they'll discreetly pour it out or pass it off while no-one's looking.

Often happens because a particular culture or subculture has a ritual that revolves around the drink in question and thus refusing the drink would be very impolite (or even dangerous). Can also be used by a snobbish Big Bad to express disdain for the drink (the vintage isn't good enough for their refined palate), the heroes, or both. As such, it can function as a Kick the Dog moment for a villain. Often associated with The Vamp.

Compare Slipping a Mickey if poison is involved. Discreet Dining Disposal is the same thing done with food. Overlaps with That Poor Plant when the high-potency drink is poured on a potted plant.


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  • An Australian ad for McCafe extolling their new coffee blend talks about Australia's coffee obsession. As the narrator says "Serve us a lacklustre latte and we'll turn it into a 'down-the-sink-acino'", the ad shows a woman taking a sip of coffee then holding the cup behind her back and dumping it into an office pot plant.

    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind: When Giorno is inducted into Passione, his new comrades haze him by offering him tea mixed with urine. Giorno takes the tea, sniffs it, notices the piss... then dramatically downs it all, much to the gang's astonishment. Unbeknownst to them, Giorno used the powers of his Stand Gold Experience to turn one of his teeth into a jellyfish to absorb the liquid without actually drinking it.
  • This is standard operating procedure for dealing with Kodachi's home cooking in Ranma ½, which typically includes stuff like paralysis powder, poison, or sleeping powder. Her brother, Tatewaki, even has a small dog he uses to test his meals for him. People would gladly do this with Akane's cooking too, if she weren't watching them like a hawk when getting them to taste her recipes.
  • During the Water Tribe arc in Yona of the Dawn. Jae-ha, Hak, and Kija infiltrate a brothel where the girls have been secretly serving clients the drug, Nadai. In order to avoid consuming the Nadai-laced alcohol, the men let it drip down their sleeves and even monitor their breathing as the incense also contains it.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Bruce Wayne tends to do this at social functions, as his public persona needs to be seen to be drinking and occasionally appear to get drunk, while his true persona is a teetotaler. When he needs to be seen drinking while at home, he tends to drink things like seltzer water in champagne glasses.
    • In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, a conversation with Jim Gordon reveals to the reader that Bruce started drinking for real after he hung up the cowl. When he returns to being Batman he picks up his old habits.
  • In the Blake and Mortimer story "Professor Sato's Three Formulae", Mortimer discreetly pours on the floor a cup of sake which he (rightly) suspects of being drugged.
  • Everyone in The Boys, save Wee Hughie and Love Sausage, pours shots of a rather potent blend of vodka over their shoulder. Lucky for them because, as Love Sausage states, "This shit would probably kill the AIDS virus!". Unlucky because it actually counteracts the poison in the borscht that is served to them later.
    • Stranger still when it is revealed that it is not so much vodka as it is brake fluid. Hughie develops a taste for it.
  • In the German comic of the TV series Lindenstraße, politician Rudolf Scharping is invited to "Saumagen" by then-chancellor Helmut Kohl. Which he gets rid of by feeding it to That Poor Cat (at the end, with brute force). Kohl comments that the cat always seems to get sick when he invites people for Saumagen, but doesn't make the connection.
  • Discussed as a cliché in Rubrique-à-Brac by Gotlib.
  • In the Tintin album Flight 714, Captain Haddock was presented with a weird-smelling soft drink that he poured over a plant. Said plant died within seconds.

    Fairy Tales 
  • This is an obligatory element of the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses". The princesses offer the hero a drugged drink every night which he must dispose of without letting them know that he hasn't been safely sedated.
    • In Robin McKinley's version of the story, he does this by pouring it into the luxurious cloaks he is given to wear.
    • Other versions of the story sometimes involve a hidden sponge.
    • The Faerie Tale Theatre version had the hero refusing to drink (drugged) wine at dinner, then distracting the eldest princess while he poured the (again drugged) milk in a convenient plant.
    • In Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics, there's a big potted plant next to the hero's seat. As soon as he can, he dumps the drink in the soil.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Harry Potter and the Chance for a New Life after tasting the tea Joyce served him Snape pours it into a flowerpot when she's not looking.
  • In I Don't Care Harry pours a disliked drink into a potted plant, which belches and starts swaying.
  • In Princess Celestia Hates Tea, Celestia keeps a beautiful potted antique fern in her tea-room specifically for the purpose of getting rid of tea that she hates (but pretends to like).
  • In Unprotected Harry pours the remains of some drugged tea Mrs. Figg gave him into an aspidistra.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Emperor's New Groove has a villainous example, when Kronk and Yzma dispose of their potion-tainted drink. Yzma quickly dumps hers on a nearby cactus. (For bonus points, that same cactus a few seconds later can be seen to have become llama-shaped.) Kronk pretends to drink his, using forced perspective to make it look like it's going in his mouth while he's actually spilling it on his shoulder. Kuzco, the intended victim, is so self-centered and oblivious that it is hardly necessary.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Coyote Ugly: Cammy teaches Violet a way to avoid getting drunk from all the shots customers buy for her: drink the shot without swallowing it, then pretend to chase it with a sip of beer while actually spitting the shot into the beer bottle.
  • The Dark Knight: Bruce pours out his champagne on the balcony of his penthouse during the Harvey Dent fundraiser.
  • The Eagle: Catherine the Great is trying to use But Liquor Is Quicker to get Vladimir the cavalryman into bed. She pours her drink into a potted plant. Vladimir, who is not at all interested in sex with Russia's Tsarina, sees this, and discreetly pours his drink into a potted plant.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry disposes of spiked tea in a plant.
  • Hustlers: Along with her two protégées, Mercedes and Annabelle, Ramona targets rich men at bars, gets them drunk, and then escorts them to Moves where the girls steal their credit card numbers and charge them to their limit. As part of getting the mark drunk, the girls pretend to match him drink for drink, but while one of them distracts him, the others tip out their drinks.
  • In Russian film The Irony of Fate 2, Kostya is The Teetotaler because he Can't Hold His Liquor—one drink will knock him flat. So when the cop who arrested him on New Year's night starts pounding vodka shots during Kostya's interrogation, Kostya dumps his shots in a potted plant.
  • In Jaws, after one horrified sip, Brody dumps the rest of his serving of Quint's super-strength homebrew into a nearby container (and stops Hooper from drinking his shot.)
  • The Villain Protagonist of Lacombe, Lucien, a teenager who has joined the French Gestapo, attempts to impress the Jewish family he's staying with by getting them champagne. The grandmother scornfully pours hers out when his back is turned.
  • L.A. Story: Harris tries his friend's organic vegetable smoothie, and is disgusted, saying "It tastes exactly like a shag carpet!" He pours the rest into one of her houseplants. She finds it dead in a later scene.
  • In Magnolia, Jim praises Claudia's coffee only to dump the content of his cup into the sink while she is not looking.
  • The Monster: Mad Scientist Dr. Ziska has imprisoned Betty and Amos in an Old, Dark House, but is polite enough to offer them a decanter of liquor. Nervous that the liquor might be poisoned, Amos pours the decanter into a water flask. Their friend Johnny, also being held prisoner, later accidentally drinks it. It isn't poisoned, and it gives Johnny some Liquid Courage.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005): John disposes of the drink Jane hands him into a potplant when he is suspicious of her motives after they discover each others' secret identities.
  • Neighbors (2014): When Kelly is getting Pete and Brooke drunk so they'll have sex, she keeps plying them with shots of vodka. When Pete and Brooke drink theirs, Kelly tosses hers over her shoulder.
  • Seven Days in May. Senator Clark is investigating a planned Military Coup, and is told that a Colonel Henderson might know something. When he turns up at a military base demanding to speak to Henderson, the conspirators place Clark under temporary detention, sending in a bottle every half hour so he'll be too drunk to talk sense. Clark has to keep pouring the booze down the toilet, which doesn't improve his disposition when Henderson does turn up.
  • Three Ages: Buster Keaton winds up drunk in one of the Modern Age sequences (which are taking place during Prohibition) when he imbibes a discreetly disposed drink.
  • In The Wind (1928), Lige, who is trying to make his new wife comfortable, makes coffee. Letty pours hers in an urn while he is not looking. Lige's feelings are hurt when he finds the coffee in the urn after their confrontation.
  • Zombieland: Tallahassee pours shots of whisky for him and Columbus and toasts them. While he knocks it back, Columbus throws his out the car window.

  • Alex Rider: In Stormbreaker, Alex dumps the overly sweet supermarket cola into a pot plant while Blunt is out of the office.
  • And Then I Turned Into a Mermaid: Ada's uncle once got drunk and let her have a vodka and Coke. It tasted so awful that after one sip, she poured it into a cactus. The cactus died soon after.
  • Bernie Rhodenbarr: In The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian, Bernie goes home with a woman who lives in the apartment building he's been trying to enter and pours his drinks into a sad-looking potted plant in an attempt to stay relatively sober.
  • Bored of the Rings. When Frito Bugger tries to get rid of his Orca-Cola drink by pouring it into a potted palm, the plant takes the glass from him and sets it carefully on the floor.
  • Discworld
    • William de Worde in The Truth, when he discovered that the lemons his host dropped in the tea he's drinking were fished out of the river Ankh. After spitting out his first sip with an excuse about it being too hot, he "accidentally" kicked his cup of tea when he stood up to leave.
    • Moist von Lipwig in Raising Steam has to negotiate with elderly aristocrats who look like amiable old duffers but have minds like razors and keep offering him brandy. He comes prepared with a rubber tube leading to a hot water bottle concealed in his clothing.
  • In the Greyhawk novel Descent Into the Depths of the Earth, when a character tries the Justicar's tea, he waits until the Justicar isn't looking before pouring the rest of his cup out, over concerns that it might poison him if he drank any more.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge brings Harry into her office for questioning. She insists that he have a drink and gives him a cup of tea laced with what she thinks is a Truth Potion. Harry, suspecting that something is up, only pretends to drink, and once Umbridge is distracted, takes the opportunity to dump the tea in a nearby vase.
  • When Herald Alberich of Heralds of Valdemar is undercover in Haven's bad neighborhoods, he carries a drinking jack with a slow leak, to get rid of the alleged beer he's been served without having to actually drink the stuff.
  • Judge Dee, title protagonist of Robert van Gulik's series of detective novels, does this once to get out of the poison-in-teacup situation.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: Averted in Busman's Honeymoon. When Lord Peter Wimsey is offered some homemade parsnip wine, his wife Harriet, realizing the distress of a world-class oenophile, suggests he dump it in a nearby potted plant. However, Lord Peter goes ahead and drinks it (not without a shudder) after observing that the plant already appears unwell.
  • The heroine of Georgette Heyer's The Masqueraders gets caught doing this by the hero — just before he reveals he's penetrated her masculine disguise.
  • Mother of Learning: Police detective Haslush doesn't drink on duty, but he finds it useful to pretend to drink with people, so he has a ring with an embedded spell formula to transmute alcohol into sugar. Zorian learns the spell and later uses it to win a drinking contest.
    Haslush: The moment I touch the glass the deed is done.
  • In The Player of Games, Gurgeh, as a member of The Culture, has this as an innate ability — he can reroute any drink straight to his bladder without his body attempting to assimilate it. He uses it to avoid getting drunk when attending state functions.
  • Rivers of London: In False Value, Peter's narration while having a friendly chat over drinks with a potential suspect is that he's glad he's not being offered the really good stuff, because it would be a shame to waste it on a bonsai tree.
  • Saving Max: Danielle tells Max to hide his meds under his tongue and spit them out when no one's looking, as she suspects that experimental medication is being tested on him.
  • Star Wars Legends: Young Jedi Knights: In Shadow Academy, Tenel Ka does this with her drink while her mentor Luke Skywalker (who'd warned her how strong it was) is digging for information in the resident Bad Guy Bar. She dumps it in a plant, which turns out to be an alien.
  • Stig Of The Dump: When Barney and Lou are at the midsummer party of the cavemen, they are offered large horns containing liquid. Having watched one of the cavemen drink from it, and then throw the horn over their shoulder, Barney and Lou drink from theirs, and react in disgust when it is beer. Barney then throws his full horn over his shoulder, with his beer ending up in the face of another caveman.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Angel episode "Guise Will Be Guise", Wesley (while disguised as Angel) disposes of the blood they offered him in a flower vase. Poor Wesley clearly wasn't at his best, because the vase was clear and the water was then visibly red.
  • In the Decoy episode "The Showplace," Casey goes undercover pushing drinks at a nightclub. She pours her drinks into a vase on the table while the clients are busy playing Footsie Under the Table.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Brain of Morbius", the Doctor and Sarah are guests of the Mad Scientist Solon. The Doctor drinks the Mickey-laced wine Solon serves them, but Sarah wisely pours hers on a plant (then fakes passing out).
  • Downplayed in Drake & Josh when Hellen at Drake and Josh's party takes a sip of Josh's limemade and pours the rest in a fern. She even says "You watch, that fern will be dead by nightfall."
  • In an episode of Ellery Queen, Inspector Queen discreetly pours a cup of Ellery's awful coffee down the sink, and then follows it by pouring the entire pot out. Ellery then attempts to refill his cup from the empty pot and only notices anything is wrong when he takes a sip from his cup and finds it empty.
  • Friends. Chandler throws away a cookie his nutty roommate has offered him, as he's getting increasingly weirded out by the guy's strange behavior.
    • In the Pilot episode, Rachel makes coffee for the first time ever. Chandler and Joey take one sip and find it's disgusting. When Rachel turns away they quickly dump the rest into the nearby potplant.
  • In an episode of Hogan's Heroes, the gang needed replacement parts for their radio. Newkirk pretended to have a toothache, so Schultz was assigned to take him into town to see a dentist. Before they got to the dentist, Newkirk dragged Schultz into a bar for a drink, as the bartender was his contact with the Underground, who told him it would take several hours to get the parts they needed. Newkirk ordered a beer for Schultz and a bottle of schnapps for himself, with a shot glass. He would pour himself a shot, then surreptitiously pour it into Schultz's beer instead of drinking it.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Barney throws out the drinks served to him by Wendy the Waitress under the crazed belief that she is trying to kill him after he broke up with her.
  • Life With Lucy: None of Lucy's family members want to drink her newest health shakes, so they pour them into a flowerpot.
  • Lucifer (2016): When Lucifer and Chloe are forced to go undercover to a high school reunion to investigate the suspects of a murdered novelist, Lucifer is left holding a drink he really isn't interested in tasting. When he approaches his first suspect to question her, he tosses the drink into a drinks fountain behind the lady just before she can turn around.
  • A variation in Mad Men: Roger Sterling explains to colleague Lane that he never gets drunk at a business dinner, he makes one drink last by topping it up with water until there's no alcohol left in it. In Season 6 he orders a whiskey for a potential client and 'a glass of water with an onion' — to mimic an alcoholic drink, to pretend to drink with one.
  • Midsomer Murders:
    • Barnaby does this with a cup of acorn coffee in "Death in Disguise". Leads to a That Poor Plant moment.
    • In "The Axeman Cometh", Jack 'Axeman' McKinley, who is The Alcoholic, avoids falling Off the Wagon when pressed into sharing a bottle of vodka to commemorate a fallen band mate by secretly pouring each glass into the plant beside him.
  • Catherine on NewsRadio did this with the Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor.
  • In an episode of The Office (US), Karen pours shots into the trash while Andy and Jim drink them, leaving her sober and them hammered at the end of the evening.
  • The Prisoner (1967): In "A Change of Mind", after Number Eighty-six drops a tablet into Number Six's tea, he pours it into a flowerpot.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In 2006, JBL challenged Steve Austin to a beer drinking contest on Saturday Night's Main Event. After setting up the rules that the two would drink as much beer as they could in one minute while standing back to back, JBL proceeded to dump beer down the front of his shirt as opposed to ingesting it.

    Video Games 
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: Guybrush has to do a Drinking Contest with Rum Rogers Jr. Because he's such a lightweight, he has to empty his drink inside a potted dead plant, while replacing it with near-grog. The lightweight implication gets subverted when the other guy passes out, showing that the stuff is really undrinkable.
  • Return to Zork: You may have to do this a couple of times during your Drinking Game with Boos in order to get his keys to East Shanbar. If you don't you get drunk, and lose.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: there is a separate character skill that deals with such things ("Sanguine Disposition" in the tabletop game.) It allows the characters to pass for humans in mixed company (since most vampires can't ingest anything but blood and refusing a drink might be impolite).

  • The Order of the Stick: To stay polite, Durkon mixes his disgusting Bloodwart tea with his beer flask discretely, by distracting his host with a discussion on "Comparative Mythology". Unfortunately, the tea itself is a blood offering. Guess what the tea is made of:
    Malack: You're thinking of Bloodwort tea, with an "O".
  • In the Giant Days Spin-Off of Scary Go Round, Esther not-so-discreetly disposes of her drink in this strip.

    Western Animation 
  • When Zuko makes tea for Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Iroh takes one sip, barely chokes it down and calls it "bracing," then dumps what's left out the window behind him as soon as Zuko is looking the other way.
  • Happens in Batman: The Brave and the Bold with that shake Wildcat makes.
  • Leela does this when Zapp offers her "sham-pag-n" in an episode of Futurama.
    • In another episode, Lethal Chef Bender notes that the potted plant in the kitchen gets more withered every time he cooks.
  • At one point in The Legend of Vox Machina, Sharp-Dressed Man Percy is given a tankard full of ale, which he quietly pours out when no one's looking; he's later shown toasting to Keyleth's own tankard with a glass of red wine.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Party of One", after Rarity finds out Pinkie Pie's pet baby alligator has been swimming in the punch bowl, she politely continues drinking, but once Pinkie's back is turned she discreetly spits her mouthful of punch into a potted plant.
    • In the episode "Celestial Advice", Discord uses Twilight's drink as an impromptu hot-tub while teasing her. The moment he leaves, she dumps the rest into the nearest plant.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • In "Senate Murders", the episode begins with a scene with several senators toasting Padmé in her office for a speech she just gave. Then one of them, Rodian Senator Onaconda Farr, drops dead. It's later revealed that the beverage was spiked with a Rodian-specific poison, and that Farr's aide Lolo Purs was the one responsible. To avoid getting poisoned, she only pretended to drink.
    • In one episode where Obi-Wan and Anakin are invited to celebrate with a group of pirates who captured Count Dooku, the pirates slip something in the Jedis' drinks to try and capture them too. Not fooled for a second, both Jedi use the force and sleight of hand to swap their drinks with their pirate neighbors while they were busy being rowdy.

    Real Life 
  • Prohibition agent Izzie Einstein had a funnel and tube setup in the lining of his coat which allowed him to have any alcohol he got out of illegal bars poured into a flask he kept in an inside coat pocket—the contents of which he would use as evidence in court.
  • Former Minnesota Vikings strong safety Karl Kassulke, as accounted in his 1981 autobiography, once teamed up with several teammates in 1971 to take rookie safety Jeff Wrightnote  to a bar to "teach a rookie to drink", only for Wright to pour most of his out while Kassulke and the other Vikings drank heavily; which came back to bite the older Vikings hard when several of them got sick from having several too many.


Video Example(s):


Yzma and Kronk

Before drinking a toast to Kuzco's rule, Kronk stealthily informs Yzma that he's poisoned all three drinks (due to losing track of which one was initially poisoned). To this end, while Kuzco isn't looking as he drinks, Yzma dumps her drink in a cactus pot while Kronk uses forced perspective as he pours it over his shoulder.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / DiscreetDrinkDisposal

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