When you reach the legal drinking age, odds are you’ll want to celebrate with one heck of a cocktail. However, if said cocktail has something as dangerous as liquid nitrogen in it, you might want to go for something a little tamer.
However, you can’t blame Gabby Scanlon, who was celebrating her 18th birthday, for accepting a free, interesting-looking cocktail that was made special for her by a licensed bartender. She was at a reputable place called Oscar’s Wine Bar and Bistro, in Lancaster, England, with her friends when the bartender laid out a round of Nitro-Jägermeister shots for them.
Nitrogen-infused cocktails became all the rage a few years back, because when the chemical hits a warmer liquid, curls of smoke start to emanate, making it look like a witch’s brew. However, bartenders are supposed to advise their patrons not to drink a nitro cocktail until after the smoke evaporates, otherwise they could risk doing themselves serious harm.
Scanlon and her friends took down the first round of shots without a problem. It wasn’t until Scanlon drank a second shot that everything changed. She told the Daily Mail, “Then, because it was my 18th birthday, the barman said: ‘Have another one on the house.’ The minute the second one hit my stomach I felt excruciating pain.” Smoke began pouring out of her nose and mouth, and her stomach felt like it was expanding rapidly — right away she knew something was very wrong.
Her friends were trying to figure out what happened, but Scanlon couldn’t talk or move. Thankfully, they thought quickly, and rushed her to the Lancaster Royal Infirmary, where she was immediately taken into a four hour-long emergency surgery that saved her life.
The freezing cold liquid chemical had perforated her stomach to such a degree that the surgeons had to remove it entirely, and attach her esophagus to her small bowel. She had to spend three weeks in the hospital to recuperate. You might be wondering how someone can live without their stomach. The answer is, not very well.
“Smoke was coming from my nose and mouth,” Gaby Scanlon told the court. “Straight away I knew something was not… http://t.co/PQhlcpRVsK
— Aaron Snyder (@aksnyderphoto) September 18, 2015
Three years after the incident, 20-year-old Scanlon can barely eat anything, and thus has very little energy, which majorly impacts her everyday life. She will never feel hunger the way she did with a stomach, and has to be on vitamin injections and liquid meal replacements for the rest of her life.
The wine bar was taken to court by Scanlon’s family, and according to The Telegraph, has pleaded guilty to just one count of failing in the duty of an employer to ensure the safety of persons not in its employment. However, director of the bar, Andrew Dunn, pleaded not guilty to failing to ensure the safety of a person at his bar who was not in his employment.
Prosecutor Barry Berlin told The Telegraph, “The Crown say the company is culpable for the injuries. They failed to ensure the safety of its customers. They served liquid nitrogen shots in cocktails without considering any suitable risk assessment.”
The bar now faces a £100,000 fine for damages and costs incurred by Scanlon’s family as a result of the incident. It just goes to show, putting a chemical that’s commonly used to freeze off warts into something people drink is probably not the smartest idea.