For roughly 10 million years, humans and our ancestors have relentlessly boozed for all sorts of reasons. And for that same amount of time, hangovers have been accepted as an unavoidable consequence (despite what sketchy drug-store products or home remedies may promise — they never really work). But a few brave scientists have dared to dream: What if hangovers … weren’t an inevitably? That is the world that psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt envisions.
Since 2014, Nutt has been making the case for “alcosynths,” synthetic alcohol that’s also fun with no consequences. He’s such a believer that he’s patented some 90 potential compounds, and believes hangovers can be eliminated by 2050. But it’s not just hangovers that Nutt believes alcosynths will solve. As he tells Mel magazine, they come without many side effects associated with boozing, like stomach issues, increased aggression, balancing problems, weight gain, and — most important — addiction.
What are these magical alcosynths? They have no calories, and you won’t get any drunker from eight drinks than from four — because unlike alcohol, the effects plateau. And if you’re concerned the effect of alcosynths won’t feel like the real thing, Nutt says don’t worry: they’ve been tested on alcohol-industry veterans, who were unable to tell the new products apart from the real thing (aside from the lack of negative effects).
Nutt is also confident alcosynths could be used by booze manufacturers to make bourbon, gin, rum, or any other alcohol, and could, down the line, be used to create cocktails that produce specific moods. All of this, of course, smacks of utopianism, but could we soon be living in a world of culinary simulacrum, drinking our alcosynth Negronis while eating veggie burgers that bleed? The mind reels.