This El Paso Bar Needs to Stop Serving Drinks With Live Fish

At Zocalo Cantina in El Paso, you can order a shot called “The Last Swim.” The name refers to what’s served alongside it: a live minnow in a glass of water. You toss the poor minnow in the shot glass and swallow it.

“I knew that this shot was going to be different and obviously put our name out there,” the bar’s co-owner, Eddie Velasquez, told KVIA. “I wasn’t aware that it was actually going to come out this soon. We get a lot of people just walking in, hearing about it.”

In a cell-phone video (with the caption, “I just killed a fish lol”) shown in the KVIA news story, as people cheer her on, a customer pulls a minnow out of the glass and drops it on the bar. She tries unsuccessfully a few times to pick up the minnow before she’s able to grab it, throw it in her drink and swallow it alive.

‘Side Gift’ Approved by Health Department

It seems like the health department would order the cruel “The Last Swim” to be removed from Zocalo’s menu, right? Wrong. Sanitary Services actually gave the bar owners their approval to serve live fish. You see, because the minnow is in a separate glass rather than inside the shot glass, it is considered a legal “side gift” that is not regulated by the health department. Say what?

Even if the health department thinks serving live fish is somehow fine, I don’t understand why the bar owners haven’t been charged with animal cruelty for torturing those minnows. Scientists have discovered that fish can feel fear and pain, which is exactly what is happening to those minnows when plucked by hand out of a glass, tossed into stinging alcohol and swallowed alive.

The response to The Last Swim, Velasquez claimed, has been “overwhelmingly positive.” If he’s not making that up, I hope to never meet any of those patrons who see nothing wrong with animal cruelty, not to mention the health risks from swallowing fish that were probably bought from a bait store and not intended to be consumed by humans.

Swallowing live fish isn’t anything new, unfortunately. Back in 1939, swallowing goldfish became a craze among mostly male college students. A bill was introduced in the Massachusetts legislature to “protect and preserve the fish from cruel and wanton consumption.” Fortunately this terrible fad, which was opposed by school administrators, medical professionals and animal rights activists, didn’t last long.

‘I Would Probably Barf’

Fast forward nearly 80 years from those goldfish-swallowing days of yore. More than 55,000 Care2 members want Zocalo Cantina to stop serving live minnows to its customers.

“Those poor fish did nothing wrong,” said Care2 member Ryan Trujillo of El Paso. “I would probably barf if I drank that. I can’t help but imagine the fish wiggling down my throat.”

The petition has gotten the attention of the national news media, including an article titled, “Critics rip Texas bar that serves drinks with live fish” in USA TODAY. So what do you know — just as Velasquez predicted, The Last Swim is putting his bar’s name out there.

Perhaps when someone chokes on a fish or gets seriously ill and files a lawsuit, it will put the bar out of business.

Photo credit: YouTube


Sarah Hill
Sarah Habout a year ago

Yuck! Nasty!

Melania P
Melania Pabout a year ago

Savages!! Signed and shared

Marie W
Marie W1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H1 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Carole H.
Carole H1 years ago


joan silaco
joan s1 years ago

i concur with carla b. answer!

Leigh E1 years ago

Also, oysters are alive when we eat them and nobody bothers too much.

Leigh E1 years ago

Marc P
An extremely good point. Why is it called cruelty when humans do it and not when another aquatic species does it? Personally I wouldn't do it but that's beside the point.

Naomi Dreyer
Naomi D1 years ago

Oh, my!