Introduction: How to Sneak Booze Into the Kentucky Derby (or a Concert)

Picture of How to Sneak Booze Into the Kentucky Derby (or a Concert)

Buying drinks at huge outdoor concerts, or the Kentucky Derby, can get expensive. You'll be there all day, and at $8 a drink... well they might as well be using a gun. So why not sneak in your own supply of delicious whiskey, vodka, mixed drinks, wine or... whatever else you want?*

This is how you sneak booze into the Derby infield or any other concert venue that allows you to bring in a cooler. Simple, easy, and MacGyver-approved. 

What you'll need:
- Rolling cooler
- Soldering iron or a stove and a large nail
- Utility knife or exacto blade
- Ziploc bags (quart and gallon size)
- Up to (approximately) half a gallon of your favorite adult beverage

*This is for the fun and enjoyable sneaking of booze into a place where people are already drinking.
If you use this instructable for evil, like smuggling meth, or trying to hurt people in a public place, then you're a bad person and I hope you trip and fall on a pile of razor blades. 

Step 1: 1 - Find a Cooler!

Picture of 1 - Find a Cooler!

Step 1 - find a cooler! 

The easiest way to do this is to find a cheap rolling cooler in a friend's garage or on craigslist. I found an igloo polar express (or some stupid name) for $15. 

Yes, the first google image search that comes up is from a police auction site... 

Step 2: The Honey Hole

Picture of The Honey Hole

The best part about buying a cooler used is that the bottom is already scratched up. This does you a favor in camouflaging the cuts you'll make in the bottom of the cooler. 

Flip the cooler over and note the most scratched up parts.

Using an exacto blade, utility knife, or other razor blade with a handle, cut into the outer shell through about the middle of the scratched parts. If you just use a knife the gap might be just a little too big. 

A) Be careful not to cut your finger off. If you cut your finger off you're gonna have a bad time. 
B) The cut doesn't have to be deep, but try to make the cut straight.
C) Have patience. Go slow. Be careful. Win. 

Step 3: Hollow Man...

Picture of Hollow Man...

Pull the bottom part off (it should pop up easily) and behold the glory of spray foam insulation! 

Using a wide-blade knife, chunk of metal with a flat bottom.... or something spatula-like, start taking chunks of the foam out of the bottom of the cooler. Be careful how much gusto you put into this- eventually you'll hit the inside liner of the cooler. If you break the inside liner you're gonna have a bad time.

To boost space, carve as far into the space between the inner liner and outside shell as you can, around corners or whatever. 

Chances are you're going to have a cavity that is 1" deep. That's not going to look like a lot, but 1"X12"X12" = 144 cubic inches = 2.3 liters, more than a handle of your favorite brown liquor, or a growler of beer, or 3 bottles of wine. Math is badass. 

At this point you can test how much room you have by filling a ziploc with water. Using an empy wine bottle (0.75L, the same size as a regular bottle of liquor from the store) see how many bottles you can fit in there and still fit the lid on easily. 

The ziplocs will let your beverage conform to the room available. Science!

Step 4: Load It Up

Picture of Load It Up

Next, pour your favorite adult beverage into several quart-sized ziploc bags. Fill them each about 1/3 full and place 2 or 3 inside a gallon sized ziploc. 

Why? If you make your whole day depend on one single ziploc bag, there's a very real possibility that you'll wind up with a cooler dripping bourbon out on the ground when you open it up, and friends that don't want to talk to you ever again. 

If you divide your supply into quarts, and one of the quarts leak, then it's still in the gallon bag. It also makes it easier to shift the liquor around to get the best fit. 

If you're attempting this with beer... ugh... well first, why are you drinking beer like a little girl? Whiskey is for men with hairy chests, and it's refreshing on a hot day with some ice, which you need for the cooler, remember?

Second, if you think you're going to do this with beer, you have to do everything from this step onwards within about an hour of expecting to open the bags again. And at that, I'm just guessing. Chances are beer will end in diaster. Just sayin'.

Step 5: Cute Baby Seal

Picture of Cute Baby Seal

At this point you can, if you want, put a layer of wax paper over the ziploc bags and try to superglue the bottom piece back in a few spots before you melt it back on. I didn't try this, but if your cooler has very thin walls or it's making your nervous, then feel free to do this. The paper will help keep you from having glue seepage mess up your ziplocs. But, not completely necessary, either. 

Next set the piece you cut out back into the hole.

Take your soldering iron on low (or repeatedly heating a large nail over a stove or something), and melt the plastic around where you cut back together. This is going to be a pretty superficial seal, but should still work. 

Using just the soldering iron alone worked just fine for us, and there wasn't any plastic stickage. BUT, in case you end up having problems you might be able to use waxpaper or parchment paper as a non-stick barrier to melt the plastic back. But honestly, just a soldering iron worked just fine. 

Do this in a well-ventilated area.... or get cancer, it's up to you, really. 

BE SURE leave one corner open, even if just a 1/4" gap. It won't be enough to notice, and makes getting your bounty out again very easy. 

Step 6: Test and Go

Picture of Test and Go

Load your cooler up and give it a couple shakes. Make sure the whole bottom part isn't going to pop out. Be a little rough on it- you'd rather fix this at home now than when you're 4th in line to get in and a rent-a-cop is standing right there. 

If you don't have any problems, you're good to go. Throw in your ice and head to the event.

Don't forget your vodka-soaked iceberg lettuce.... or I guess a watermelon injected with vodka would work much better. 

Step 7: Like a Boss

Picture of Like a Boss

Walk up to the rent-a-cop like a boss. Chat with him or her, looking them in the eye and being cordial. After all, this kind person is going to save you $60 on booze, remember? They're part of the game. Open your cooler for them - offer them a sandwich! Why not?

The last place they're going to want to look is underneath your cooler, and even if they did, it will take the trained eye of someone making more than $12/hr to see the seal now that you've gently scuffed the bottom up a bit on the walk to the gates. 

Find you and your friends a spot to set up camp. Get out your chairs and blankets and sunblock. Get comfy, you're going to be there all day. 

...and when the mood strikes, get a friend to help you lift the cooler up and have another person use a car key to pop the bottom open.  Your cooler will pay out like a slot machine and everyone sitting around you will probably get a lot friendlier. But hey, you have a whole handle to drink, what's the rush? 


c-face (author)2012-05-24

Have you guys ever considered Catheter bags. They are medically clean when you buy them so I wouldn't worry about that part, they have a pour spout and some sites have them rated!

spanner1969 (author)c-face2015-08-02

and EVEN IF they see it and ask about it you can show them some scotch or whiskey or vodka with diluted yellow food colouring.

If they question you then start a frackas about discrimination, personal intimidation or loss of personal dignity and public humiliation ...... they will let you pass

spark master (author)c-face2012-05-24

exxcellent idea and if you carry some freezer ice packs you place one on top the weight will force the liquid out a tube into your cup/mouth. Heck just use the platypus (or cheaper) bags then put them in the hidden spot

Rachel03 (author)2014-09-05

Being from KY, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the idea as well as all the comments ! U guys rock, quite wickedly, I must say :) This is a good case ur wondering....Yeah, that infield at Churchill can get rather cramped and a nice, I'll say.....cooling beverage helps the day move a little faster. I just joined this site while ago and am very interested in what I might find this...I think some pretty cool things. Y'all have fun !

altomic (author)2013-09-07

i sneak booze into events by hiding it in my stomach.

MLeiter (author)2012-07-13

just as an fyi... you can do one more mod to the cooler... get a camel-pak bladder and route the hose to the draining nozzle. it might take a few tweaks, but then you don't have to worry about having to dismantle the cooler.

Pfarmkid (author)MLeiter2012-08-21

If you wanted to really get crazy you could find a way to put the screw open lid in the bottom of the inside of the cooler

dfinney23 (author)2012-08-15

Another handy place for a little booze sumggling is the bag for the folding camp chair you may already be carrying anyway. For the common top-loader with a drawstring you can probably at least fit a couple cans or bags in the pocket formed by the seat as it folds up.

I have a couple with full-length zippers that can each swallow a 6-pack along with the chair, though a couple would be revealed by even a cursory inspection. But how often do you see security checking camp chairs?

KittyExpress (author)2012-06-15

Winning ^.^

valkgurl (author)2012-05-25

Ah---the Flask Cane---pretty sure it is illegal but there were old canes with a long glass cylinder that held enuf booze for one or two---Now I use a cane and don't really drink but this could still be done like the prior poster wrote---just be sure the whole cane is leakproof first!

No one pays ANY attention to gimps so if you can beg borrow or steal a wheelchair, wheelscooter or a walker the person USING the "handicapped aid" will be pretty much the shoo-in for carrying yer contraband. I am always the designated carrier.

Also some places--like the Saratoga Racetrack (flat track) have BANNED the use of hardsided coolers AND glass containers. SPAC (can you tell I live in NY???) will check almost everywhere for contraband at some shows--Dave Matthews Band etc---but not others. AND they make you sit in a PLAY PEN if you buy the over priced beer and wine--the hardest stuff they sell. This is to protect the kiddies--like the kiddies don't ASK why Daddy is confined inside a fence!!!!

Now--back to breaking and entering. Has anyone considered using the HARD SIDED COOLER BRICKS? I dunno what is in there but since they are sooo cheap surely emptying a few out and either using zip bags inside and just chucking them in the cooler OR after cleaning using them as a bottle and finding some way to reseal them---no one is looking at them as they are a normal part of cooler useage and are translucent plastic. IF anyone sees you remove them they will think nothing of it just be discrete about pouring them.

Also there is a product called the BEER BRA---you figure out how THAT one is made!

And in my younger and wilder days I was known for having a leather bag made like the back of a lute--if you stuffed a few T shirts on the outside of the bag and then filled it with a few bottles and other contraband--ya know that stuff is sooo much SMALLER---and by slipping the strap around my neck with the bag facing OUT I was able to waddle into many an event as a heavily pregnant woman. Even passed a few "pat downs" at the old Nassau Coliseum,---a place just slightly less paranoid about security than Alcatraz in it's time. Course this was easier in the winter months but surely a clever woman could come up with a "modest" maternity blouse and then change into real summer clothes in the ladies room.

Now--how about a FLASK WALKER??? Now THERES an idea!!!!!!

wilgubeast (author)valkgurl2012-06-15

We tried a little something like this for the ski slopes that would absolutely apply in a situation like this. from mikeasaurus is a method that should work with anything long and cylindrical (*cue middle school giggles*) that you'd be bringing legally to the event.

caarntedd (author)2012-06-13

I successfully used a similar, more risky method to smuggle booze. I emptied some of the reusable ice packs that have the blue stuff in them. (The hard platic type that conveniently look like a hip flask can be drilled through the "lid"). Refilled them with vodka and blue food colouring and sealed with a soldering iron. Security either didn't notice or didn't care that some of the ice packs weren't frozen. Don't mix them up though! ;D

caarntedd (author)caarntedd2012-06-13

BTW, thanks for the great instructable. Rated.

Phantombobber (author)2012-05-24

Are Rent-a-cops and their bosses blocked from reading Instructables?

Allenwr (author)Phantombobber2012-05-26

As a currently employed rent-a-cop, no, we are not prohibited. More over, this is a lot of work for someone like me to really care. It would get through any check point and probably the FAA. It's only the blatantly obvious stuff like a 6-pack on top that would get thrown out. Even if more guards were worried about people doing this, there isn't time to flip every cooler. So +1 to this instructable.

Grouchy1 (author)Allenwr2012-05-27

And if you put a couple of cans of cheap beer in the top, they throw them out and their work (on you) is done -- or so they think....

clydicus (author)Grouchy12012-06-08

Ah yes... the "confess to a lesser crime" distraction. Always a winner.

jelte1234 (author)2012-06-07

how about finding a cooler that doesn't use foam, but double walls? then you could just cut the seal, pulling the entire inside out. it would also look fully normal, and you could possibly even just pour it straight in there. or, you could carefully make a hole for a whine baggy and cover up the hole with a fake valve or something.I guess you could, also using the sides, put in 2 or 3 bags of whine ( or same bag with other liquid)

I hope this inspires.
if you make this, please tell me. ( and of course make an "ible)

J-Ri (author)2012-06-04

Cool idea, but I have a question... they don't actually go through the contents of the cooler, do they? The last time I went to an event where they checked, the guards simply asked "can I look inside your cooler please?" and anyone who said yes and didn't seem nervous was allowed to pass without the cooler even being opened. I know that most of the time they open the cooler and make sure it's not filled to the top with liquor, but I can't imagine that they have the time to dig through the ice.

Gunner_sc (author)J-Ri2012-06-05

They did at Churchill. We had cans of ginger ale in there and the guard spent some time looking at multiple cans to make sure they weren't beer. It was just enough checking to make sure no one's sneaking in a 6 pack or two.

stevfuri (author)2012-05-24

Beer will end in disaster! The carbonation would cause the bags to pop open almost immediately. Additionally 1 ziplock bag is not much beer and you'll soon be back to buying $8 drinks.

J-Ri (author)stevfuri2012-06-04

Easy solution... shake the beer until it's flat before putting it into the bags! XD

rfakhre (author)2012-05-26

What about just putting Vodka in water bottles? 4 or 5 water bottles, one or two are Vodka, and if you close it tight you can't tell it was ever opened.

cvtech1954 (author)2012-05-25

Instead if using ziplock bags, why not use the mylar bags that have a spout that boxed wine comes in. You have a spigot, and the ziplock won't accidentally come open wasting you prized contraband!

Gunner_sc (author)cvtech19542012-05-25

True! I wanted to do this initially, too.... There's 2 things to worry about with this, though, that I discovered afterwards -
1) the depth of the storage place is only about 1", which is why we can't fill the ziplocs too full - if they are too thick in the middle you can't fit them in. So you'd need multiple bags filled part way.
2) The wine.... so, if you drink lots of box wine and save the bladders - not a bad idea, btw, this isn't a problem. We were doing this in about 2 days, so the prospect of drinking 3 boxes of wine between 3 of us on the planning end (before we drove down to Louisville) sounded like hangover city, and would have added another $60 to our costs, assuming we got 3 or 4 bags.

So this is a good idea, and requires more long-term planning!

poco424 (author)2012-05-24

When I was a young man cars came out with windshield washers and the storage container for the liquid was glass. I rerouted the line into the glove box and put booze in the jar instead of windshield washer fluid. Worked pretty good and I never got caught doing what I wasn't supposed to do. Told my dad about it after many years and he just shook his head and said, "Imagine if you used that imagination for something productive".

dropkick (author)poco4242012-05-24

I wired in a 12 volt transformer to a fish tank air pump and by hooking it through a broken tap used it to pressurize a keg in my trunk. We ran the beer hose up through a fold down armrest in the back seat. It took quite awhile to build up initial pressure so you could get a good stream of beer, but we thought we were geniuses.

Gunner_sc (author)dropkick2012-05-25

Um, because you are! That's amazing.

prushik (author)2012-05-25

"Math is badass"
Awesome quote

jerbear1978 (author)2012-05-24

I was at Rock on the Range this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio and a woman asked me for an empty water bottle. She proceeded to fill it with Whiskey. She then tucked it up under her boobs. Brilliant!!

MichaelAtOz (author)2012-05-24

Engineer friend of mine said that they had better/ ;)alternative ways at problem solving.

For a college football game, where they had access to the site, they just hid the booze inside the day before... ;)

Gunner_sc (author)MichaelAtOz2012-05-24

maybe this is just booze sneaking urban legend.... but it sounds familiar

Set271 (author)2012-05-24

Awesome, as long as we all drink responsibly!!! I'm gonna try a spigot and pump assembly...'camo' the spigot...Edmund's Scientific used to sell tiny little pumps that would run on 1.5-9V...this is definitely the season for a project like this.

Ludwig Von Mech (author)2012-05-24

You would think that the vulture capitalist vendors would wise up and get decent. I don't mind it when they make a profit, but hey, I gotta work too.

doove (author)2012-05-24

Hey, I see it's not just me that's spent way too much time looking for a workaround on this issue. Except we don't get payed like lawyers. Lots of good ideas here!!

I tried to freeze my alcohol and take it in AS ICE CUBES but for some reason it didn't work... just kidding.

How about using those SOFT coolers? They usually have a removable shell so you can clean it. If you just load some baggies around the sides between that and the bag walls, and then fill the cooler with the mixers (for the rented kids - optional), that might work...

Or take an aquarium with a fake fish in vodka and say that you couldn't find a sitter...

The summer is upon us with festivals galore to inspire! Thanks for kicking it off!

Slim49 (author)2012-05-24

Well , I just like it!
Good one!
My oldest trick:
put a large bag of ice on top of everything in the cooler. so , it seems you are hiding something.
inside the ice bag, its hollowed out & contains a 5th Liquor bottle.
when you set it down , and the Gate Hawks spot the covering ice bag, be helpful & pick it up so they can inspect most easily!! you will fly thru the gate.
I NEVER got caught.
Mr. Steve
not to mention the hip flash or pint bottle ace bandaged in the hollow of your calf.
the concave back nestles securly.

fazgard (author)2012-05-24

I enjoyed the "If you ..... you're gonna have a bad time." lines!

This is a great idea on so many levels.

TallTrav (author)2012-05-24

I did first aid stuff for years and we just re-filled saline bags with vodka and gin. No one ever checked our stuff You could also drain the juice out of a jar of cherries and replace it with booze. Even better if you have access to Everclear. Those cherries are dangerous. The catheter bags are a sound bet for concerts or places where you can't pack coolers

spark master (author)2012-05-24

If you drink wine from boxes (gasp) just save 1/2 a box worth and put it inside the flap, once inside who's gunna see just put the bag inside the cooler. Or put wine in a bunch of tougher sandwich bags (filled 3/4 up in side a gallon zip then put inside), pull out a few at a time put in the cooler use a sharpened straw to puncture the bag . Bring a cup or a folded cardstock box to hold the zip bag. Put it in a kids juice box holder, now you will feel silly with barney on th e outside but heck, big animals (like elephants and dinos ate fruit it fermented they got deranged, just like college students, and errr Nascar Dads! chcuckle!

razamatraz (author)2012-05-24

I would add buying at least one of the overpriced drinks from the event so that you have something to put the smuggled booze in that looks authentic....of course they are generally just red solo cups anyways.

gogglecrab (author)2012-05-24

Ah! A local instructable in the area! whoot whoot!

tydymiler (author)2012-05-24

Hello fellow redditor.

ccopyrites1986 (author)tydymiler2012-05-24

hahaha yes... i was thinking the same thing

DIY Micah (author)2012-05-24

I wonder if you could modify a 1.5/2 liter CamelPak Bladder and hose to attach to the drain plug. That way you'd have an easier time draining your tasty beverage of choice and you could baby seal the bottom much more securely to avoid any accidental openings from bumps and such. Great ible!

thinkdunson (author)DIY Micah2012-05-24

excellent idea.

applesaucemodifier (author)2012-05-24

I have seen this done with small Platypus(soft-sided water bottle) and hidden.... on the body....
It's crude, but better that paying 8 dollars for a beer.

travelfeet (author)2012-05-24

I love this, and will add it to the menu of techniques I've used for sneaking in prohibited beverages.

In response to the gravity feed problem of routing your stash through the drain plug... add some collapsible/removable legs to the bottom on your cooler, or a fold-up small table to put it on. Clearance problem solved.

To be really bad-ass it would be fun to create a pressurized storage area, but hiding the "tap" would take some real effort. I'm thinking a mini bicycle pump to charge it via a schrader valve installed in a screwed on top, then drained through a hose routed to wherever. That top would have to be well hidden though and thus not very accessible for filling...

redcore4 (author)2012-05-24

have you considered using the plastic bag from inside a box of wine? these are designed to hold liquid, so they aren't as likely to burst or leak - also, they come with a spout you can use to dispense the liquid.

the spout from these boxes can usually be pulled out and then pushed back in again, so you can rinse out the bag before filling it with something stronger.

i have used these before to get into the kind of event where they superficially check bags - if they are feeling the outside of bags rather than looking in, then they won't feel a hard glass bottle; wrapping it in a pillowcase makes it look like a spare shirt if they do check inside the bag...

psmith-graham (author)2012-05-24

I have snuck my clear liquids in inside the cooler successfully. Works for hard stuff and white wine. Put in zip lock type bags and put in bottom of cooler. Put in a little ice. Put in food. Put in more ice. Not enough for a large group, but enough for a couple of folks to have a good time. And if you lose it, the world won't end.

Not that I would ever encourage anyone to break the rules. Nope, not me.

jeoncs (author)2012-05-24

Awesome stuff

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