A Real Jersey Devil

Devil's Springs Vodka packs a punch, and is made right here in the Garden State.

Illustration by Gregory L. Crippen.

The warning on every bottle of Devil’s Springs Vodka is written in bold: “Do not drink at full proof. At 160 proof, vodka is inflammable and should be diluted to your own taste.” Which means that the young man identified in a YouTube video as Narc probably knew that taking a straight shot was a bad idea. YouTube being YouTube, he does so anyway, on camera.

“That’s Johnson & Johnson, man!” he gasps. “Rubbing alcohol!” Narc shouldn’t have been surprised. Devil’s Springs has a Facebook page with grisly testimonials from users, such as this one from a woman who wrote, “I always enjoy my night wit this even though i always end up in hand cuffs or a big fight!”

But at least two things about Devil’s Springs are surprising. The first is that, despite being a popular prop in feats of YouTube idiocy, Devil’s Springs has been mentioned in the New York Times and other publications or websites as an excellent base for making fruit- or flower-infused flavored vodkas. The second surprise is on the label: “Bottled by Devil’s Springs Bottlers, Clifton, New Jersey.”

The same hellaciously high proof that scorched Narc’s esophagus makes Devil’s Springs a foodie favorite and explains why it’s so effective in homemade liquor infusions. “When you’re doing infusions, if you use a high-proof vodka, it just sucks the flavor right out of whatever you put into it,” says Lindsey Diana, bar manager at Asbury Park’s Watermark, which serves numerous house-made infused liquors.

Clifton’s Black Prince Distillery, which produces Devil’s Springs, is best known for lower-end liquors such as sour-apple schnapps and watermelon liqueur. It’s an unlikely producer for a connoisseur-approved spirit. Sadly, Devil’s Springs’ makers seem content to keep their secrets to themselves and declined to comment for this story. Count that unwillingness to dilute Devil’s Springs’ overproof mystique as a way in which the Garden State’s own firewater is defiantly, distinctively Jersey.

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