Ethyl alcohol is not the only liquid inebriant that has been historically consumed. In the past, aristocrats of certain social circles had a penchant for imbibing ether (more formally known as
, the laboratory solvent and erstwhile general anesthetic). This substance is most likely encountered today in the form of engine starter fluid (however, drinking or 'huffing' this is not recommended, because in addition to ether it contains petroleum distillates).
"Ether-smelling" parties were frequently organized whereby a cloth or cotton swab saturated with ether was passed around and guests would inhale the cloth close to their mouth and nose in order to experience the transient euphoria and lightheadedness induced by the ethereal vapour. It was thereafter discovered that swallowing ether in liquid form could produce effects more similar to alcohol. A drinking session may proceed as follows:
If drinking ether becomes old hat, one can always engage in the next best fad among old timey chemists: ingestion of 'methylic spirits'.
From Gentleman's Magazine , vol 245 of 1878:
Ix , Member 13