We Mixed MSG With 7 Alcoholic Beverages, and Drank Them

The strange thing about MSG—albeit, not the strangest thing—is the price.

Imagine my surprise when I found a 12-ounce bag of monosodium-glutamate for $1.49 at tiny grocery store in Manhattan's Chinatown. You've probably heard a ton of bad press about this mysterious amino acid: it causes nightmares, gives you the shakes, causes headaches, cancer, shrinks your testicles, etc. All possibly true, sure, but here are some indisputable MSG facts: it's used to enhance the flavor of food and bring out the natural savory "umami" flavor.

There's a stigma attached, but the FDA has concluded that MSG is safe when "eaten at customary levels." So that's that. For the sake of amateur science and sheer curiosity, I decided to mix some MSG into a variety of different drinks: light beer, wine, hard cider, IPA, the whole kit and caboodle. Wanna see what happened? Of course you do. So, with the help of Supercompressor's social media editor, Molly McGlew, we tasted seven different MSG-laced alcoholic drinks and took notes. Here are those notes.  

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Jeremy Glass: “This tastes exactly like soy sauce. Like, if I were blind-folded, I would’ve thought this was soy sauce.”

Molly McGlew: “I don’t think I can do this. I really don't. There is no context for this taste."


JG: "This tasted more bitter than the PBR—but the beer taste becomes it’s sort of like alcoholic duck sauce."

MM: "At first I didn’t think it was going to be so bad...then the soy sauce and bitterness kicked in and I think if I drink another one of these I might puke."

JG: "Foster's. Australian for duck sauce." 

Angry Orchard

JG: "Totally fine at first, then an aftertaste that just kills you. You can feel it in the back of your throat, it’s literally like drinking hoisin sauce. F*CK."

MM: "I can’t. I can’t, I can’t. It’s the aftertaste. It’s lingering."

Miller High Life

JG: "It tastes like liquified fried chicken. I’m going to vomit."

MM: "What's happening? I might call poison control." 

Fireball Whiskey

JG: "I honestly can’t believe how tasty that was—it sort of tasted like caramel. The MSG brought out the sweetness and actually subdued any semblance of alcohol." 

MM: "Pleasantly surprised at first, actually. But, as I am saying this, there is an overwhelming taste of death creeping into my mouth. Fireball is forever ruined for me."

Westbrook IPA

JG: "Disgusting. Tastes like a skunked beer mixed with fish. This is probably what whale semen tastes like."

MM: "That’s the worst one. Hands down, the grossest thing I have ever consumed. It takes like straight up fish oil with like vinegar."

Smirnoff Vodka

JG: "Not a huge difference here...if anything, it tastes a bit more like gin than anything else."

MM: "Not the worst, not the best. Can I go home/to the hospital yet?"


I really don't care what the FDA says about this stuff, you shouldn't drink it. Whether it's good for you or causes cancer, I highly recommend leaving this additive on the shelf and spend the $1.49 on a pack of gum. 

MSG brought out a terrible side to a drink we all love and it made Molly question everything she ever thought she knew about alcohol and life. We're in a dark place after this tasting—this must be what the world felt like after JFK died. But worse. 

Jeremy Glass is the Vice editor for Supercompressor and needs help moving on Saturday—should only take about 8 hours. Thanks, bro.