Alcohol has gained a notable prominence in contemporary art, particularly in artists’ bars and other convivial situations at biennials and art fairs. What happens, though, when an artwork features alcohol that cannot or is not meant to be drunk? If the point of drink in contemporary art involves engaging spectators in sensorial, embodied encounters, what remains of the specialness of alcohol when it stays in the bottle? This article examines artists’ multiples and distillation projects where drinking is teasingly possible but downplayed. In these works, partaking is less important than the inebriating affect, in which drunkenness is experienced at a remove, and so infuses the imagination to instigate thought beyond the act of drinking. Even when contained, the intoxicating potential of alcohol has the ability to disrupt norms and aesthetic conventions, as well as to make compelling comments on art and society.

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