The Inexhaustible Bottle is a classic magic trick performed by stage magicians. It has many variations; well known examples include "Any Drink Called For", "The Bar Act", "Satan's Barman", and "Think-a-Drink". A slight variation is the "Magic Funnel".
The magician produces a bottle or kettle and asks the audience to name any sort of drink; water, beer, tea, etc. The magician tips the bottle and pours out a glass of that drink. He then asks for another example, and another, with the bottle producing the drinks on demand, seemingly forever. Depending on the performer, the bottle may be broken open at the end of the performance, with any number of objects found within.
In a modern variation, "The Magic Tea Kettle", a single kettle is poured into several cups, each of which turns a different color. This version is widely available at magic shops and is typically performed by and for children. This version often includes an ending flourish where the kettle is opened to reveal the "reason" for the colors is a number of colored handkerchiefs inside.
The concept includes two different tricks, the original "any drink" where a single container can pour multiple drinks, and the "endless pour" in which a seemingly large or continuous amount of liquid is poured from a container that is too small to hold it.
Any drinkEditThe original method from Hocus Pocus Junior was a single large barrel that is modified with internal baffles to create three sections. A single spigot on one of the flat ends of the barrel is extended with three pipes, one leading into each of the different partitions. The flow is controlled through a bunghole on the top that is likewise modified to run to three hoses, one into each partition. By turning the stopper in the bunghole to uncover one of the pipes, air can flow into the partitions. When the spigot is opened, only the liquid from the selected partition can flow out, the partial vacuum in the other chambers prevents the flow.
The original "any drink" methods using bottles were similar to Hocus Pocus, simply on a smaller scale. Most variations used what appeared to be a bottle but was actually a tin container japanned (lacquered) green to appear like glass. The internal area is divided into sections and each one empties into a tube that ends just short of the neck. Very small holes drilled into the bottle allow them to be selected in the same fashion as Hocus Pocus, with the magician's hand holding the bottle so their fingers cover the holes; lifting one starts the pour. The tea kettle varieties simply moved the holes to the handle. A slight variation on the theme is the Magic Funnel, which uses a two-walled funnel holding liquid between the walls. The magician pours a small amount of liquid through the funnel as normal, but it continues to pour when they lift their finger from a hole on the handle.
A very different variation on the any drink method uses small packets of dried flavouring or color that can be dropped into the cups before the pour begins. "Think-a-Drink" used this at least for some performances, and prior to one show one the seemingly dirty cups were polished by a stage hand and had to be re-prepared. In spite of Hoffman's attempts to protect the act, or perhaps because of it, this is now the basis for the simplest version, the Magic Tea Kettle. This version uses small beads of colouring that are dropped into the cup, preferably during the pour, and the container itself holds water. Most versions contain water only in the bottom of the kettle, the upper portion is a separate container that can be used for a reveal. Other versions may use various simple chemistry to produce the colors. These variations are simple to distinguish because the fluid coming out of the bottle is always the same color (normally clear), while the original method actually has different fluids inside.
The seemingly inexhaustible amount of liquid is even simpler; it relies on special "essence glasses" which appear about the size of an aperitif glass, but are mostly glass with little open space for the liquid. This not only helped the illusion (until lifted to the lips) but also reduced the cost of performing the act if the glasses were handed out. For very large audiences, sleight of hand can be used to switch bottles during the act; Modern Magic suggests doing this while calling for more glasses to be brought onstage.
Scribner's describes a very different method in which a beer barrel was placed under the stage and piped to a hole in the floor where it ended in some sort of coupling. The performer would walk to the hole and press their shoe onto the coupling to connect to rubber hosing running through his clothes to a bottle, where he would begin to pour.
Many acts added two flourishes. One was to rinse the bottle with water at the start of the act, which is accomplished simply by covering all of the holes and pouring water into the mouth. Unable to travel up the tubes into the bladders, it falls into the space between them and can be emptied back out the same way. Most acts also included an ending where the bottle was broken open. This was actually a cut line along the bottom of the "bottle" which could be pulled apart by applying a little effort.