Category - Gin

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SideBlog: The Chemistry of Whiskey
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TIki Drink: Tiki Tylenol
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Christmas Gifts All My Readers Should Ask For
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James Bond (and NPR) Had it Wrong With the Martinis

SideBlog: The Chemistry of Whiskey

The-Chemistry-of-Gin-And-Tonic
The Chemistry Of Gin. In the same series as the aforementioned Chemistry of Whiskey poster.
Personally, I prefer my gins to be more Pinene, Limonene, and Geranyl Acetate-forward, while toning down the Bornyl Acetate notes…
(H/T: LikeCool)

TIki Drink: Tiki Tylenol

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TikiTylenol Full
This cocktail comes by way of Board of Tiki Idols member, Doctor Bamboo. His name for it in its original form is the Pololu. You can find it in Beach Bum Berry’s Remixed, since the good Doctor never seems to have blogged it. I changed its name to Tiki Tylenol, because I make some tiny changes in the recipe, and because if Tylenol is a painkiller without asprin, and this is a Painkiller without rum…. Also, like regular Tylenol, too many can result in liver damage.

TIKI TYLENOL

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice and shake very well to fully emulsify the coconut creme. Strain into a largish cocktail glass and sprinkle surface with powdered cinnamon.


This is a particularly delicious, though non-standard Tiki drink. Gin and Cognac work better together than most people think, and at three ounces, pack quite a punch. My main change is to replace the original St. Germaine with the far more potent Thatcher, and adding a little apricot in place of the pear tones in the St. Germain. This change works well, I think.
It also lead to an interesting discussion two nights ago. I put the Tylenol on the menu for a bunch of bartenders. An hour and a half in, I observed loudly that I hadn’t served a single one of these drinks all night. They all looked at me, and one said simply, “It has St. Germain.” I replied that no, it had elderflower, not St. Germain, and what did he have against bartender’s ketchup? “Nothing,” was the reply. “You put a drink with it on your menu and you’ll sell hell out of it to one group of customers, but the others won’t touch it for anything.”

Christmas Gifts All My Readers Should Ask For

Tanqueray No.10 Imperial Shaker by Jason Crawley
It’s that time of year again. Time to consider gifts to give to your loved ones, and gifts to ask for from your loved ones. And of course, booze-centric gifts are always in order. The first time I bought booze in my life was a case of wine for my dad, to go with the wine-rack I got him for Christmas. Of course, I was seventeen at the time, but since it was a gift, the guy sold me it anyway. In fact, he suggested it. A different time….

Anyway, via the master-link-baiters at Gizmodo, the crazed maniacs at Needless Markup Neiman Marcus have unleashed their annual Christmas gift guide. As usual, it contains a number of fantasmic gifts in the booze-related vein. Things like a golden top hat champagne bucket, or their hand-blown glass ice bucket with a brass top shaped like an acorn by Oscar de la Renta. There is the Coravin wine vampire thingy that I posted about when it came out. (Due credit to Neiman Marcus, they only want one dollar more than Amazon.) There is even a Burberry dinner jacket in the catalog that I’d give up Bombay Sapphire for.

NM-5ABP_ek
I’d give up gin entirely to have his hair….

There is also a Waterford Crystal caviar and vodka chilling set that ought to tempt the most high-end of boozehounds for the bargain-basement price of $3,500 dollars.
NM-5K05_mk
It ought to be the top tempter, but it is not. And it also really a bargain-basement priced item, compared to the mack daddy of this year’s catalog (if you don’t count the Maserati or the amphibious jet skis): The Tanqueray No. Ten Imperial Shaker, by Jason Crawley, as pictured atop this post. This gorgeous beast is about 280 pounds of cast iron, brass, and silver. It stands about the height of Gaz Regan, and works four Tanqueray No. Ten-inspired shakers at once, in an up and down motion (no… just, no) and an elliptical motion that is gorgeous. It makes the Waterford set seem inexpensive by ringing up an order of magnitude higher at $35,000, even. They have the good graces not to try the $34,599, “See? It’s inexpensive!” trick, though, so kudos again.
Crawleys-Imperial-Shaker
In addition to the machine, you also get four cases of Tanq Ten, which they are alleging is a year’s supply, and a private cocktail education class for you and nineteen of your ginniest friends with Rachel Ford (seen here operating the Imperial Shaker).

At any rate, there is s magnificent video from Neiman-Marcus that I can’t figure out how to embed, so until I find such a version, you’ll have to hit this link to watch it. and here it is:

Tanqueray Imperial Shaker from Pulse-Plus on Vimeo.

I want to open up a bar, just to build it around one of these…. That said, it has it’s important limitations. Despite being a Tanqueray No. 10-branded device, linked to a gin made for Martinis, you don’t shake Martinis. It shouldn’t be used for Martinis. More importantly, do not even think about popping a Manhattan into any of those lovely stainless steel shakers. I’ll cut you.

James Bond (and NPR) Had it Wrong With the Martinis

"That's not an olive, 007!And do leave off shaking your Martinis, will you?"

“That’s not an olive, 007!
And do leave off shaking your Martinis, will you?”

The NPR interview I’m referencing here is “old”, in both internet and news parlance. But I just saw it, and shallow science and bad science reporting need a vigorous slapping around whenever it is encountered, no matter how playfully it is presented. The interview in question is with a Dr. Andrea Sella of University College London, who was promoting the fact that he and others had spent someone’s good money on a “scientific” study of shaken versus stirred Martinis. Actually, he’s talking about two studies. One, which isn’t his, is about health differences, and his, which is about taste. The resulting claims, as outlined by Dr. Sella, are as follows:

  • Martinis contain anti-oxidants. When you shake your Martini, you will have slightly higher levels of anti-oxidants. Because vermouth. Anti-oxidants may arrest aging slightly by locking up hydrogen peroxide. Therefor shaken Martinis are more healthy.
  • Shaken cocktails have more water, bits of ice, and bubbles in them, which alters their mouthfeel, decreases their temperature, and increases the dilution. So shaken Martinis taste better.

I’d like to address both of these, but first I’ll embed the audio of the interview, which got a helluva lot of press attention when it first aired.

The claim that shaken Martini’s are healthier than stirred, and the underlying implied claim that both means of preparation have health benefits, is ridiculous. Look, I love Martinis, but praising them for their health benefits is like raving about the fuel mileage in your Formula One race car. Anti-oxidants may (or may not) delay aging a little bit. And there may be some slight increase in their presence in a shaken Martini. But listen to the researcher, the overall amounts of anti-oxidants in Martinis, and the difference between shaken and stirred, must both be pretty slight, or he’d want to tell you how much it is. Drinking enough Martinis to get whatever small anti-aging effect they may offer, shaken or stirred, is going to be more than offset by the liver morbidity that would set in. So if “live fast, die (apparently) young, leave a beautiful corpse” is your desired philosophy, by all means make Martinis a part of your health regimen.
For the sensible among us who like Martinis, drink them small, and drink them sparingly. If you want some anti-oxidants, eat more berries.

As for his credibility on shaken Martinis… I’m sorry, Doctor, but you need better credentials than just multiple advanced degrees in chemistry to convince me. While it is true that there is a debate about which makes a better Martini, shaken or stirred, that debate is between James Bond aficionados and actual Martini drinkers. For the record, I am assuming that we are talking about gin, and not vodka Martinis, though this is never addressed in the interview. Dr. Sella is right about the physical effects of shaking, but not about the actual resulting aesthetics. The giveaway is in the following exchange:

D(r. Andrea Sella): Well, one might expect it to taste somewhat different. Now, first of all, let me declare my interest: I’m not a huge fan of martinis per se.

(Guy) RAZ: Yeah, a lot of people hate martins.

D: Absolutely. I mean, martinis are definitely an acquired taste. But the crucial thing is that when you think about what happens between pouring something into your mouth and experiencing it in your mind, in your brain, it’s not just the sort of chemical components. There’s a lot more going on.

I’m sorry, but if you don’t like Martinis, then you are unlikely to design a test to properly measure what is a good Martini. A traditional taste test methodology, a la the Pepsi Challenge, where a random sampling of humans are given two glasses labeled A and B, takes a sip of each, and expresses a preference, is fundamentally flawed when applied to semi-universal products like soft drinks. It is doubly flawed when used for Martinis.

As Sella notes himself, Martinis are an acquired taste. Did he test only Martini drinkers, or a random selection? I’m guessing the latter. This means that a lot of people, like Guy Raz for instance, were going to experience a test between two drinks, both of which will likely taste like ass to them. The shaken one will be more diluted and muted in flavor, exactly as he predicts. Of course people, when confronted with a cocktail that is frankly pretty confrontational, are going to choose the version that is less a punch in the snoot to unprepared taste buds.

But had they given the test to habitual Martini drinkers alone, who are already accustomed to the unique, assertive medley of gin and vermouth, the results would have swung strongly in the other direction. People who actually want to drink Martinis are looking for that unctuous experience that is figuratively and literally diluted by shaking. Less objectively, the visual experience is better with a stirred Martini. The glass-like clarity of the drink, unsullied by ice flows, bubbles, or foam, is easier and more rewarding to gaze into, and more in keeping with the drink’s flavor.

Incidentally, I was initially also skeptical of the whole “shaking releases more anti-oxidants” claim itself, beyond the fact that there can’t be enough there to provide a usable health benefit, but on consideration, this makes sense. Dr. Sella states they found the anti-oxidant comes more form the vermouth than the gin. Many spirits experts will contend that it is the vermouth, not the gin, which is “bruised” by shaking, resulting in the release of a few new or altered flavors. I can easily see that along with those releases of/changes in flavor, you might also get some additional release of anti-oxidant compounds.

Regardless, if you want to learn to love Martinis, the road there is not through vigorous shaking. Learn to love the taste of gin in gentler cocktails, then try the real thing. And whatever health benefits may come from drinking alcohol, they come only from consumption in moderation, and frankly I suspect most of them come not from chemical effects on the body (for the most part) but simple mental hygiene of a life well lived.

And less you think I’m being too hard on Dr. Sella, he’s really quite the interesting and entertaining scientist and science popularizer. He also has a good sense of humor when things don’t go entirely to plan. You can see quite a bit of him on YouTube, in productions like this fascinating piece:
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