A cocktail with gin and DDT? Slim chance

World War II soldier gets DDT to kill lice - CDC photo, Wikimedia

He'll need a drink after this. World War II soldier gets a dose of DDT, without gin. CDC photo via Wikimedia

MicroKahn worked to track down the facts:  Was there really a cocktail called a Mickey Slim that consisted of gin and DDT?

Non-gin drinkers will think that’s likely, but gin drinkers would quickly recognize that such a drink would be wasteful of good gin.

And it will give cancer to your children and grandchildren, and thin your eggshells.

It’s probably a bar room legend:  The Myth of the Mickey Slim.

7 Responses to A cocktail with gin and DDT? Slim chance

  1. James Hanley says:

    And don’t even hint at putting DDT in bourbon

    I once had a friend who put coke in his Makers Mark. Now Makers isn’t the real cream of the bourbon crop, but I still found it an appalling abuse of good liquor. The only thing that ever goes into my bourbon, and then only sometimes, is an ice cube.

    Yes, I manage to be a snob about corn likker. That’s what makes America great!


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    If you can’t foul up your gin, you need to switch to a better gin.

    And don’t even hint at putting DDT in bourbon. Lightning would come from the statue of Sam Ervin and hunt you down where ever you may happen to be.


  3. James Hanley says:

    Can you really foul up good gin? That assumes two things, that gin can be good and that it can be good enough to get fouled up.

    It’s not bourbon, after all. ;)


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Oh, yeah, Gordon Edwards was famous for ingesting DDT. The legend is that before every lecture he gave on pesticides, he’d take at least a teaspoon of the stuff.

    Of course, he knew that he wasn’t a female who would later have babies, and he knew that a teaspoon wasn’t enough to be acutely toxic to any being over 100 pounds.

    I find it ironic, however, that he died from what might be called classic DDT biomagnification death. Bats, and migrating birds, often don’t die from acute DDT poisoning. But they die off when migrating. And the brains of these dead critters show high concentrations of DDT.

    So the conjecture is that they store the DDT in their fat, and when they use that fat, at some time the releases of DDT from the burned fat becomes toxic in one form or another. DDT gets their brain, which stops their heart, and it literally knocks them dead from the sky.

    Edwards was pronounced fit by his cardiologist one week, went mountain climbing the next week, and died of an acute heart attack.

    We now know that the highest human dangers seem to be to children of women who were exposed when carrying the child, or when nursing the child. Female children of women exposed to DDT at these times have a greater risk of breast and other cancers.

    Thanks for the reference on the Mickey Slim. It’s a foolish way to foul up good gin, but some people put sugar with their whiskey, too. The sugar is much less dangerous than DDT.


  5. jukka says:

    The “Goodbye Mrs. Ant”, which is part 4 of the documentary series Pandora’s Box by Adam Curtis does indeed mention Mickey Slim at 04:28, http://www.archive.org/details/AdamCurtis_PandorasBox

    “In American bars there was a drink which was called a Mickey Slim and it was a good gin with a spot of DDT in it. And this was supposed to give you a feeling of happiness and merriment”

    Also in a segment starting at 16:10 entomologist Gordon Edwards actually eats DDT from an old DDT box.


  6. Ed Darrell says:

    Tonic water has quinine in it.* Quinine causes a fever, a minor one, but enough to kill off newly-infected malaria parasites. Brits in the Raj and other places where Victoria’s armies ruled used gin to kill the bitter taste of the quinine, thereby inventing gin and tonic.

    I would guess that is what is usually referred to as “insecticide” with gin — and somebody, unfamiliar with the malaria-preventing qualities of quinine, assumed it was DDT.

    But stranger things have happened.

    * Quinine in even trace amounts causes the water to fluoresce under ultraviolet light. One way to check to be sure it’s real quinine, put it under an ultraviolet light.


  7. Jon H says:

    The Tim Powers novel ‘Declare’, a sort of alternate-history fantasy espionage story, has a scene with Kim Philby in Berlin in 1948, taking a swig of gin and insecticide, which in the story acts as a ‘djinn repellent’.

    (Shortly afterward, Philby goes to observe the Soviets near the Brandenburg Gate, as they do something with a djinn they’d captured.)

    Presumably this was based on something Powers had come across in his research, though it might have only been an urban legend.


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