How to Make Pruno, Prison Wine
(Photo by Straight 8)

Prison Wine: How to Make the Convict Concoction Known as Pruno

Well, you’ve done it now. Failure to pay those indecent exposure tickets has landed you a nice little stint in Club Fed. Life’s gonna get pretty tough on the inside, and unless you want to rely on those two weeks of karate classes you took back in ’96, you’d better come in with a skillset. No matter what penal institution you’re checking into, there is one thing that will bring all the boys to the yard: A fresh bag of Pruno. That’s right, we’re talking about good, old-fashioned prison wine!

How to Make Prison Wine AKA Pruno

Not to be confused with bum wine, learning how to make this convict concoction will most likely save your ass in more ways than one. So, let’s gather around the stainless-steel toilet and get to work!

Step 1: Gather the Goods

To begin, there are five main ingredients you will have to smuggle out of the chow hall: Six oranges, a can or two of fruit cocktail, ketchup, sugar, and some bread. Also, keep these items on the low down. If other inmates know that you are getting ready to open a steel-bar speakeasy, they might want in on the action and this could blow the whole operation. This is where it pays to master the art of “keistering.”

Step 2: Get Fruity

Peel and shred all the oranges and place them in a bag. A sealable container like a Ziploc is preferable, but a normal trash bag will work. Just don’t try and use your pillowcase. It won’t hold liquid worth a damn, and you will only fuel the stereotype that all criminals are dumb. Once the oranges are set, dump that fruit cocktail into the mix.

Step 3: Pour Some Sugar on Me

Sugar really helps to speed up the fermentation process. You have a whole cell block of eager customers, so time is money. I suggest you grab as much as you can from the cafeteria (50 cubes if possible) and pop them in the goodie bag.

Step 4: Dropping Acid

You are going to need a little bit of acid to make this “get-right juice” tasty. This is where the ketchup comes into play. If you can score a bottle, good for you, but packets will work just fine. Plus, those suckers are way easier to conceal. All you need is about five tablespoons squeezed into the mix.

Step 5: White or Wheat?

OK, enough screwing around. We need to turn this into booze and the only way that’s going to happen is with some yeast. Tear up a couple pieces of bread and toss them in. Yeast will convert the sugars into alcohol via some really scientific process that was explained to us in high school — for those of us who made it that far.

Step 6: Going to Pound Town

Now that all the ingredients are in the bag, it’s time to beat this mixture into a pulp. If there is any part of this process you want others to see, this is it. Make sure your cellmate yells a lot of profanities as you throw hands. Once finished, walk out of your cage and mad dog everyone on the block. Other inmates are going to assume you are tough because you like training in your cell, or they are going to think you are crazy as shit for punching a bag full of vomit. Either way, it’s a win-win.

Step 7: Doing Time

You are going to need to hide the bag for about a week in a warm, damp spot. Leave a tiny part of it open so the gases can escape. The last thing you need is the whole thing exploding all over your six-by-eight. Once it’s ready, stab the bag a few times on the bottom and drain the hooch into a container. Your work is finally done — it’s time to get hammered!

The Taste Test

jail booze, jail alcohol
(Photo by Straight 8)

Now, I have to warn you: This isn’t going to taste like that fine bottle of Cisco you might be accustomed to. This is prison wine, not Black Angus, my friend. Your first sip of Pruno will really test your manhood. Imagine that you have some runny cat shit that is heavily sprayed with citrus potpourri and then strained through a pair of dirty underwear — that’s pretty much what you get when you drink Pruno. Now fill yer tin cup and make a toast to the boys in the ghetto penthouse!

This article is from a previous issue of Skillset Magazine. Grab a print or digital subscription at

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