Following the recent hospitalisation of a man who drank liquid nitrogen at a Gurgaon bar, owners and staff at popular outlets in the city blamed the incident on the lack of regulation while mixing drinks with such gases, and a “clear lack of training” of staff that served the man the drink.
On April 13, the 30-year-old had to be rushed into surgery at Columbia Asia Hospital, after he consumed a drink laced with liquid nitrogen without waiting for the stipulated “50 to 60 seconds” required for the gas to evaporate. While the man survived, the incident has made people wary of indulging in such cocktails.
Vikram Rana, owner of Vapour Bar Exchange, which uses liquid nitrogen in its cocktails, said the incident is an example of “why it is important to ensure people mixing such drinks are trained”. “There are courses that bartenders can take to be able to correctly mix such drinks. When we hire staff to make these cocktails, we ensure they are qualified,” he said.
“Apart from ensuring the staff are trained, it is also important to communicate to the customers what is in their drink. They have to be told to drink only after the smoke has evaporated; that is a part of the staff’s job,” Rana added.
Inderjeet Banga, owner of Sector 29’s Prankster, used the incident to highlight why several outlets are reluctant to offer such cocktails.
“People offer these drinks more for the drama than anything else, so that their customers can discuss them on social media. However, there are no strict guidelines for their use and bartenders are often not properly trained to mix such drinks. It is because of this very reason that we do not have these on the menu,” he said.
Officials from the district’s food safety department, who did not wish to be named, confirmed this.
“There is no specific licence that bars have to obtain to mix such drinks. So this is not something we regulate.We cannot make a decision regarding how it will be handled in the future. That order has to come from higher levels.”
According to doctors, the man’s abdomen was “grossly distended” and a high level of lactic acid was found in his blood — a condition that results from oxygen deprivation.
Dr Mriganka S Sharma, the co-surgeon in the case, said, “When liquid nitrogen turns to gas, it expands more than 500 times. If it is swallowed and gets into a person’s stomach, it could explode.”