Alcohol has been with us since the dawn of civilization, under the best of circumstances and the worst.
It has survived countless attempts to limit and banish it and has prevailed thanks to human ingenuity. No matter the situation, men have always found a way to beg, borrow, steal, or make their own alcohol. Nowhere is this unruly spirit more evident than in prison. Which makes sense. After all, alcohol is great for stress, and there are fewer stressful environments than obstacles.
Homemade prison liquor has a variety of names, including Juice, Hops, Raisins, Beer, Chalk, Dollar, Hooch, and Pruno (a once-popular ingredient was prunes, but the name now applies to any home-brewed fruit), and the industry likely started around one week after history's first prisoner was taken to his cell. And try as they might, man could never stop it. It's become such an ingrained part of prison culture that many wardens have accepted it as part of the show.
Reggie Kray of the Kray brothers, England's most notorious crime family, was recently denied parole after serving 29 years in prison for "not abstaining from alcohol in prison". He refuses to stop and apparently won't let the authorities force him. So he's still in prison.
It's almost impossible to stop because, firstly, the prisoners will do whatever it takes to get it, and secondly, the alcohol is incredibly easy to make. All you need is a little knowledge, some crafting and time. And there are plenty of all three in every prison. Most recipes include fresh fruit, and guards at some prisons have even banned fruit from inmates' meals in hopes of reducing production. The always imaginative inmates were later spotted making Pruno with frosting on cakes, bread, jam and milk. Proving that where there's a will there's a way to get knocked down.
To find out how easy it is to make Pruno, we brought two teams together to test different recipes. The first is a proven classic, the second is a modern twist.
Rezept Nr. 1: Picea Classica(by Hank Soboski)
This recipe is part of prison lore as it was detailed in a famous poem by prison poet Jarvis Masters called Recipe for Prison Pruno. (See bottom of page.) Using only the poem as a reference, I continued.
What will you need:
A resealable bag (Ziploc or heavy-duty garbage bag with elastic bands)
10 peeled oranges
1 8 oz can of fruit cocktail
50 sugar cubes
6 tablespoons tomato sauce
I placed the oranges and fruit cocktail in a large Ziploc bag, sealed it and spent fifteen minutes lovingly squeezing and mashing it until it was the consistency of a paste. I added 16 ounces of tap water and closed the bag.
Run hot water over the bag for fifteen minutes, then wrap in three towels to isolate the heat and start the fermentation process. The bag turns out to be the size, weight and temperature of a newborn, and you might start to have warm feelings for the cute little creature. That is normal. Especially when you realize that when this baby grows up, it's going to get you drunk. I hid my baby in a safe, dark place and let it rest for forty-eight hours.
I unwrapped the towels and found my baby had grown well. I assumed this was due to the gases released in the fermentation process. I opened the bag and it smelled a bit like rotten fruit. I added fifty sugar cubes and six packs of Heinz ketchup. After closing the bag, I waited for the sugar cubes to dissolve and kneaded the pulp a little to ensure a good blend. It occurred to me that I might as well have used cubed sugar. I ran her under hot water for thirty minutes to comfort the bacteria, then wrapped my baby in towels and took her back to a safe, dark place.
Day 4 and Day 5
I kept an eye on my prodigy. The sugar accelerated the fermentation process and by day five I felt like my baby was thinking of crashing into something he didn't want to clean up. I opened a corner of the bag and took out some gas.
Day 6 to Day 8
I would warm the bag in the sink for fifteen minutes each day, then wrap it in towels. I noticed that once a floating mold colony had settled, it grew very well. Was my baby sick? Was that normal? Wasn't there a hotline I could call? I returned it to its safe place and hoped for the best.
With a mixture of anticipation and fear, I unpacked the bag and opened it. I stuck perfumed toilet paper up my nose, just in case, but the bouquet still looked like a rotten glove on my snout. My baby had turned into some sort of Frankenstein creature with terrible personal hygiene. I quickly removed the large chunks of rotten fruit and the spectacularly successful mold colony, then strained the rest through a tea strainer.
the taste test
I had to fight hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution and instinct to get the first bite. Even with a noseful of toilet paper, my first instinct was to vomit up what my lizard brain was telling me was deadly poison.
But I remembered reacting the same way to my first sip of whiskey and continued. I've scrapped the idea of mixing it, with drain cleaner, gasoline, whatever.
I forced the value of a cup down hoping it would eventually get easier. This didn't happen. Each new sip was a new insult. I added ice hoping to mask the taste or at least kill some of the bacteria. Not only did my tongue taste like rotten, moldy fruit, but it tingled as huge colonies of bacteria emerged and fought back.
After struggling and swallowing half of the first pint, my stomach began to rebel. I could imagine what he was thinking: 'My God, they're poisoning us! And look at that shit, the motherfucker keeps tearing it down! Are we committing suicide? Missed a fucking meeting?
To be honest, classic Pruno tastes like a spilled bottle of Thunderbird in a bin full of rotting garbage. Also, a stray dog licks him off the alley floor and throws him up on a dirty hubcap.
am I getting drunk? A liter of Pruno gave me a slight buzz. It's not a "brandy glass on the porch" buzz. But a miserable, stomach-churning, moody buzz. The equivalent of secretly having sex with a toothless drug-addicted whore. It's sex, yes, but you feel more horrified than satisfied.
I've never felt much sympathy for our country's prisoners, but now I do.
Receita Nr. 2: Rich's Orange Jack(by Nick Plumber)
I got this recipe from a recently paroled friend of mine, Rich, who experimented a lot with brewing while paying off his debt to society.
What will you need:
A sealable bag.
3 containers of concentrated orange juice
1 ½ cups sugar
Rich informed me that the scones are added for the yeast content, which explains why this recipe calls for a third less than the classic recipe.Ersion During his incarceration, he mixed this mash in a garbage bag hidden in a plastic prison trunk. Otherwise, I used a garbage bag and a five-gallon plastic bucket. I gathered all the ingredients and tied the bag shut so the gases could expand. Under Rich's system, he let it sit for five days, "burping" the bag once a day to release the gas. Rich suggests the best time to do this is right after the lights are turned off, as the guards won't show up for a while and the smell of the fermenting sap is sharp and unmistakable.
I didn't notice much activity. The bag wasn't filling with carbon dioxide and I was worried I hadn't added enough sugar to start the yeast. I decided to be patient.
The pouch was a little swollen, but not enough to burp.
The pouch was starting to swell, so I opened it up a little and squeezed it. A strong smell, like a screwdriver with a hint of rising bread, filled the room. According to Rich, this was abornSign.
I burped the bag again. The smell was alwaysveryAcid. Rich had warned me about this, so I added another ½ cup of sugar and sealed the bag.
The moment of truth. I installed a panel, opened the bag and looked inside. A frothy mass of soggy bread floated on a thick orange liquid. To keep the process as authentic as possible, we filter the drink through an old t-shirt. We serve it on the rocks with a touch of morbid angst.
the taste test
After smelling it, Ivan refused to drink it until we questioned his manhood. He took a sip, ran straight to the bathroom and threw up.
Certainly not a good sign, but the rest of us were made of sterner stuff. It smelled like rotten underwear and looked like Satan's sex urine, but that was for drunken science, by God.
At three, the rest of the tasters and I take a sip at the same time. We grimaced at the same time. It tasted as bad as it looked and smelled. Like a screwdriver that's been out in the sun for a week. Baker put his down and refused to take another sip. Dignan took another small sip, shuddered, and gave up.
who left everything to me. I braced myself and finished the rest of the glass. Surprisingly it stayed down. I felt like there was a decent amount of alcohol in it, but was there enough to induce the kind of high that made me forget a rocky five to ten year time?
I scoffed at the broken plate in the dressing room and calmly filled another glass. In the big house they would all be my dogs. I added more ice and let it sit for a bit; chilling might help. I tried to put myself in the mood of a prisoner:I haven't had a drink in months or more and that's it. No liquor stores, bars, whiskey bottles tucked under my roommate's bed. anything. Just monotony, brooding danger, and a strong desire to get out of my head, if only for an hour.
I exhaled completely and drank another glass. Vinegar, fermented, with a reddish ham aftertaste. I got a slight buzz, but I don't think I could use another glass. It was alcohol, fine, but two glasses was my limit outside of prison.
As a reward, I poured myself a nice glass of Scotch to rinse my mouth out and thought about the experiment: It works, yes, but I wouldn't recommend it unless in the most desperate of conditions.
Recipe for Prison Pruno
A poem by Jarvis Masters
Take ten peeled oranges
Jarvis Masters, it's the verdict and verdict of this court,
an 8-ounce bowl of fruit cocktail,
that the requested information is true,
Squeeze the fruit into a small plastic bag
the jury before, on this date,
and add the juice along with the puree,
discovers that the penalty will be death,
Add 16 ounces of water and seal the bag tightly.
this court ruled on August 20, 1991
Put the bag in your sink
rejected his request for a new trial,
and heat under hot running water for 15 minutes.
It is the order of this court that you suffer death,
Wrap towels around the bag to keep it warm for fermentation.
said punishment within the walls of San Quentin,
Keep the bag in your cell for 48 hours without touching it.
where will they kill you
in the manner provided for by law,
Add 40 to 60 cubes of white sugar,
the date will be set later by the court in an enforcement order.
six teaspoons of tomato sauce,
You are in the custody of the Warden of San Quentin,
then heat again for 30 minutes,
last trailer to be held by him
Secure the bag as before,
decision on your complaint.
then store the pouch intact again for 72 hours.
It's so neat.
Warm up for 15 minutes daily.
In testimony of
After 72 hours
I offer my hand as judge of this High Court,
remove the puree with a spoon,
and had the seal of that tribunal affixed to it.
Pour the remaining serving into two 18 oz. Cups.
May God have mercy on his soul.
No matter how well guarded a batch might be, the fermentation process is a foul-smelling one. A prison nurse likened the stench to baby poop.What is hooch called in jail? ›
You may have heard about a cheap, quick way to make a kind of homemade alcohol that goes by many different names, including pruno, hooch, brew, prison wine, and buck. No matter what it's called, it can give you more than a cheap buzz.What is the alcohol content of prison hooch? ›
What is the alcohol content of prison hooch? Temperature conditions, ingredients, and time of fermentation are some genuine variables that will determine the ABV of pruno or prison hooch can range from as low as 2% to as high as 14% which is similar to strong wine.How long does prison hooch take to ferment? ›
The science behind making hooch isn't as complicated as one would think. I mixed about a pound of sugar to every half-pound of paste with some hot water, let it sit for about three to five days, and voilà, hooch.What does grape mean in prison? ›
GRAPES: Information or gossip. GREEN LIGHT: Permission to kill a person or gang affiliate on sight. GUMP: A homosexual inmate. GUNNING: Masturbating in front of a correctional officer.What is a pretty drink in jail? ›
Pruno, or prison wine, is an alcoholic beverage variously made from apples, oranges, fruit cocktail, fruit juices, hard candy, sugar, high fructose syrup, and possibly other ingredients, including crumbled bread. Bread is incorrectly thought to contain yeast for the pruno to ferment.Why was hooch banned? ›
At the time, along with other alcopops, the drink received criticism for encouraging underage drinking by appealing to children due to its sweet taste and use of cartoon-like advertising.Does hooch still exist? ›
Hooch is truly a legend of the drinks world. Originally launched in 1995 we had a brief sabbatical in the noughties but are now firmly back in the nation's hands.Does pruno taste good? ›
Pruno or prison wine is an alcoholic beverage that's made from various ingredients, many of which are circulated through the prison. The taste of pruno has been described as a “bile-flavored wine cooler” – not exactly something that sounds enticing. Hooch has been a mainstay for prison culture for years.Does prison wine actually get you drunk? ›
But even though its flavor is reminiscent of Mad Dog 20/20 and “is like drinking the nastiest sweet and sour margarita but with bread in there and orange,” according to Crouch, it does the job of getting you drunk and is the perfect way to pass a couple hours in the yard.
What is toilet wine? Toilet wine is just another name for pruno, or prison wine. It's alcohol made by prisoners that is often hidden in toilet tanks.Is hooch like moonshine? ›
In English, moonshine is also known as mountain dew, choop, hooch (abbreviation of hoochinoo, name of a specific liquor, from Tlingit), homebrew, mulekick, shine, white dog, white lightning, white/corn liquor, white/corn whiskey, pass around, firewater, and bootleg.Is it safe to drink pruno? ›
Botulism antitoxin can stop progression of paralysis if administered early enough in the course of the illness. There have been reports of botulism in inmates caused by the drinking of pruno in prisons in California and Utah. One of the largest outbreaks occurred in Utah where 8 inmates were hospitalized.Can you get drunk from hooch? ›
It will not get you drunk at all, it is a nice refreshing drink and is not bitter. It has a little twang to it, maybe like when you drink bitter lemon. It's tangy.How do you make the strongest hooch? ›
Some people even go as far as fermenting for up to 3 months at a time before bottling the thing as well as adding more sugar to the mix. The addition of sugar can also help your yeast continuously produce alcohol for a stronger final product.What does unicorn mean in prison? ›
UNICOR is the trade name for Federal Prison Industries (FPI), a wholly owned Government corporation that was established by Congress on June 23, 1934.What does bacon mean in prison? ›
19. Prisoners will often refer to paedophiles as animals, wrong-uns, bacon or bacon-head.What does rabbit mean in jail? ›
Rabbit: An inmate who has a history of escape attempts or has plans to try to escape. Ride with: To do favors for a fellow convict, often including sexual ones, in exchange for protection, contraband, prison currency, or commissary items.What does prison hooch taste like? ›
Pruno or prison wine is an alcoholic beverage that's made from various ingredients, many of which are circulated through the prison. The taste of pruno has been described as a “bile-flavored wine cooler” – not exactly something that sounds enticing. Hooch has been a mainstay for prison culture for years.How to make jailhouse alcohol? ›
Making prison wine is actually surprisingly easy, and all you really need is a one gallon plastic bag, ten oranges, eight ounces of fruit cocktail, some sugar cubes, six teaspoons of ketchup and a towel. The first step is to peel your oranges and toss them in the bag along with the fruit cocktail.
Hooch, a largely American colloquialism for 'cheap fiery alcoholic spirits', originated among the ethnic peoples of Alaska. A small tribe that lived on Admiralty island called itself Hutsnuwu, 'grizzly bear foot' (a name variously transcribed by Europeans as Hootzenoo, Kootznahoo, Hoochinoo, etc.).