A new generation of synthetic alcohol, called alcosynth, is believed to be capable of taking over the mainstream position as the most popular, relaxing drink.
Similar to alcohol, in that it gets you drunk, it is different in one huge way. It doesn’t have any of the side-effects associated with hangovers, including dry mouth, nausea or a throbbing head.
Imperial College Professor and former government drugs advisor, David Nutt, has patented around 90 different alcosynth compounds.
Two are being tested for mainstream use.
“[Alcosynth] will be there alongside the scotch and the gin, they’ll dispense the alcosynth into your cocktail and then you’ll have the pleasure without damaging your liver and your heart,” says Nutt.
“They go very nicely into mojitos,” he adds. “They even go into something as clear as a Tom Collins. One is pretty tasteless, the other has a bitter taste.
“We know a lot about the brain science of alcohol; it’s become very well understood in the last 30 years,” he adds. “So we know where the good effects of alcohol are mediated in the brain, and can mimic them. And by not touching the bad areas, we don’t have the bad effects.”
Alcohol is one of the leading causes of death in the world. The idea that we can enjoy the benefits of the drink without suffering the immensely negative side effects is enticing.
“People want healthier drinks,” said Professor Nutt. “The drinks industry knows that by 2050 alcohol will be gone. They know that and have been planning for this for at least 10 years. But they don’t want to rush into it, because they’re making so much money from conventional alcohol.”
“It’s an interesting idea, but too much in its infancy at the moment for us to comment on,” said a spokesperson from the UK’s Department of Health. “I don’t think we’d give money to it until it was a little further along. If [Professor Nutt] were to apply for funding, it would go through the process of everything else and would be judged on its merits.”
At this point, it is likely public pressure that will decide the speed and efficacy of alcosynth going forward.