When a friend needed to lock up liquor bottles as part of an escape room for a bachelor party, he asked us which of the 3 commonly available bottle locks would be best.
While bottle locks aren’t common in escape rooms, I could see a place for them in some games. So, here’s a roundup:
There was one clear winner both for escape room gameplay and liquor security: the Tantalus Wine and Liquor Bottle Lock.
This hard plastic spring-loaded sheath slips over the mouth and neck of a bottle. It seals shut using strong spring tension and locks shut with a key.
I was shocked at the breath of bottle necks that the Tantalus Wine and Liquor Bottle Lock fit over, both narrow and wide.
There are two downsides to this lock:
Aesthetically, it’s unattractive.
Given its plastic construction and the surprisingly strong spring tension, I suspect that it might give out with repeated use. That being said, I’ve opened and closed it a few hundred times and it’s still working like the day I removed it from the package. At $15, it’s also pretty disposable.
This is another hard plastic spring-loaded sheath that slips over the mouth of a bottle… except this one is junk.
Due to its narrow diameter and exceedingly inflexible design, this lock cannot fit around most of the bottles that I attempted to secure.
When it does fit, it looks aesthetically pleasing.
It opens with a customizable 3-digit numeric combination. With the correct digits in place, it snaps opens with the push of the silver button on the top of the lock. Its operation is self-explanatory.
It feels so flimsy that I continually worried that I might have broken it while trying to put it onto a few bottles. I didn’t break it, but I wouldn’t bother with it for an escape room because it almost certainly won’t be durable enough, even at $9 per lock.
Now for something different… and really weird.
This metal 4 digit numeric combination lock looks good and feels great. On initial inspection, it seemed like a real winner. Then I saw how it worked:
This lock completely replaces a bottle’s existing top/ cork/ stopper.
With the correct code in place, it inserts into the mouth of a bottle like a cork or stopper. Then you start twisting the top of the lock. In doing so, it slowly expands the stopper until it fills the mouth of the bottle and cannot be removed without unwinding it.
It takes a lot of spinning to expand or contract it. This would be baffling in an escape room.
It also didn’t fit most of the bottle mouths that I attempted to close with it. The bottle mouthes were too wide and the stopper ended up distorting in shape.
This lock is clunky, weird, and decidedly user-unfriendly. Absolutely skip this thing.
A word on security
Escape rooms aside…
While locks like these could function as a deterrent to thieves lacking motivation, none of them would adequately secure liquor from a motivated thief. All of them are breakable with enough force or some basic tools.
The 3 digit lock only has 1,000 possible combinations; that wouldn’t take all that long to test.
The 4 digit lock has 10,000 possibilities, but it has some pickable weaknesses.
Tantalus Wine and Liquor Bottle Lock is pickable, but due to its heavy spring tension, it was pretty difficult to pick. It is my choice for both escape room gameplay and bottle security.
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