9 Crazy Historical Facts About the Ice in Your Drink. (They are hiring Buzzfeed headline writers over there, apparently) The big takeaway from the article is how large an industry cutting ice from frozen lakes (back to Kristoff from Frozen again) and shipping it world-wide was before, and even for a while after, mechanical refrigeration was invented. It's an entertaining read, full of skullduggery, bankruptcy, slander, and fingertips being lost toIce has been big on my mind lately, not least of which because of the entire family of ear-worms that have taken up residence in my skull after seeing Disney's iceapalooza Frozen. (If you haven't seen it, consider going, even if you don't have kids.) My ice thoughts may also have been prompted by Earth pulling its atmospheric hat down over its forehead, leaving 90% of the US feeling like it got relocated to Birds-Eye warehouse. Screw you, California! (Shakes mittened fist) Also, a lot of excellent ice reading has appeared on the web in the last few days that is worth a post that rounds it all up for you. I'll start with the straight cocktail ice stuff. Thrillist's Scotchtales blog has two excellent articles on ice geekery in drinks. The first is
frost bite. Also, we are reminded that the only thing worse for a French politician's reputation than not leaving his mistress for a hotter mistress is serving hot wine.
The companion piece by Ted Smith, is Want Better Drinks? Use Better Ice. The experienced cocktail ice manipulator will find little new here, but it is a good outline of why different ice for different jobs is so useful a pice of knowledge. There is other stuff to read too, along with some cool pics.
In the non-cocktail centric ice news, did you know that there is an ice-obsessed international sporting event taking place shortly? If not, NBC wants a word with its marketing department, because they missed you.
What Happens When Water Freezes in a Box so Strong it Can't Expand? It turns out this is a question perilously close to "Can God make a rock so heavy she can't lift it?" Water really, really, really wants to expand when it crystallizes. It exerts about 43,500 pounds per square inch of pressure when freezing... I don't know about you, but even if I held my ice mold closed with my bare hands, I couldn't even manage half that pressure. There's lots more here about the fact that there are all sorts of exotic ice forms that can be created with crazy pressures and temperature, but I think we're safe from ungodly snooty Williamsburg cocktail dens telling us your Old Fashioned isn't "authentic" without a cube of Ice VII to chill it... for a while yet, at least.
Now, a lot of Americans who weren't used to Polar Vortexes wanted to give the instant snow trick a try, and got burned. Apparently, you shouldn't throw the boiling water straight up over your head.
I think this trick is best left to the Canadians, who show the singular lack of judgement to live in a place where it can be practiced more than once every twenty years. And, since everyone knows that Canadians are just Russians who speak English, but don't document their shenanigans with omnipresent dashcams, I include here for your pleasure the best snow-making video I've been able to find:
Given that this guy is speaking in English, I suspect this video is actually a KGB plot to get Americans to kill ourselves so the Russians don't have to.
I will close with some advice form Dave Wondrich that I mentioned earlier in the SideBlog. Twitter is a hard medium in which to impart real, advanced cocktail knowledge, but Dave absolutely nails it on the subject of ice:
It is Cyber Monday at Amazon and a zillion other websites. I was perusing to see what is out there for my wife, kids, and myself (As usual, I have been informed that I am hard to shop for), when I noticed a sale at Amazon on an item that most bar nerds like me think they have... but don't.
You're wrong. I don't think I have a citrus juicer. I know I have a citrus juicer. Three of 'em, in fact!Yeah, but if none of them are these Chef'n FreshForce Juicers, then you need one. At first glance, these juicers look just like the much more common Amco or OXO types you see almost everywhere. The FreshForce even comes in green, yellow, and orange, corresponding in size to your citrus of desire. You even use it exactly the same way you use those other squeeze juicers. The difference is in the engineering of the hinge. Look at the photo above. You can see a larger view on the Amazon page. Unlike the older models, it isn't a hinge at all. It's a gear-driven, multi-lever apparatus that gives you a helluva lot more leverage, and more leverage means more juice extracted from each piece of fruit. More leverage also means that for those of us who are Old™ (I'm not really that old, but when I play a lot of tennis, my hands feel like I am), it is much easier to operate. Regardless of your digital strength and flexibility, during that time of the year when all the limes are hard and have that thick skin (you know when I'm talking about), using one of these improved juicers makes it much less like a bare-handed struggle to the death with an Amazon boa constrictor to get enough lime juice for your Pegu. As I write this, though perhaps not when you read it, the yellow "lemon-sized" FreshForce is a Cyber Monday deal at Amazon for nineteen bucks. The orange-sized is a whopping thirty-eight. The lime is twenty, which is more than the lemon. You do not need the lime juicer, as the lemon does a great job on limes anyway. One other Amazon deal I happened upon while checking out these juicers is a set of two of the Tovolo spherical ice molds. At less than eight bucks right now, they are pretty worth while. They don't make clear ice, but no work, no brainer big ice makes Old-Fashioneds easier to do right. Of course, none of these products do me any good as far as my Christmas list goes, since I already have them. What kind of bar geek toy do I need that I don't have? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? UPDATE: This bar product is also on sale for Cyber Monday. Do not buy it. Don't even look at it. abc
I do not know how I missed this, since Mythbusters is among my family's favorite shows, but in one of the James Bond episodes, they took on the issue of the Gospel of Gin: Shaken or Stirred. It warms my heart to see that once again, they get it right. (And Bond gets it wrong) They leave out only two things here. One they should have. One they should not have. They rightly left out all mention of "bruising" things. I seriously doubt that gin bruises anyway. Some folks claim it is the vermouth that gets bruised, but I also doubt this. I'd suggest instead that people who shake Martinis are a careless and neglectful sort who probably let their vermouth go bad with age, and that's where the ill flavor comes from. What they should have addressed a bit deeper, because it is a serious problem for a lot of still learning cocktail-philes, is the issue of dilution. They do note that the problem with the shaken Martini is that it is too diluted. But they'd have done well to add a few seconds to the effect that some dilution is essential to every cocktail. Always remember, the ice is more than coolant. It is an ingredient. Too little is just as bad as too much.abc
CocktailFred Yarm of
Virgin Slut, and author of Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book, is the man I call The Hardest Working Blogger in Booze Business™. Nowhere is this more clear than in his shouldering the burden of keeping Mixology Monday alive, and in wrangling other hard working bloggers into running the monthly programs. Since I am not a hard-working blogger, I have managed to miss almost all of the second wave of MxMos.
Bad blogger! No Fernet for you!But I made it in for this month, since I had a Tiki idea. The excellent Stewart of Putney Farm stepped up to the plate to host MxMo this month, with a cool, if maddeningly open-ended, theme of Inversion. You can read his excellent round up of the results at that link, but I noted that there was a surprising number of Tiki or Tiki Compliant entries beyond mine and wanted to give them all a second link here. My buddy Dagreb inverts the Suffering Bastard to give us the Flourishing Heir. For reasons unknown, this makes me think of Downton Abbey, and every time I read his post I am seized with the image of a Tiki party at Downton, with Carson arguing with the Earl of Grantham that it is scandalous for him to appear in that fighter plane-patterned dinner jacket, and the Earl should behave himself and wear his more conservative aloha floral patterned tails. Oh, Dagreb offers a second inverted cocktail as well, but it is a vile perversion of all that is good and holy and I shall not write of it here. Joey of Rated R Cocktails has bought into Tiki Month in a big way, may Pele bless him. He will need those blessings, because his offering, the Iat Iam (Mai Tai inverted, get it?) commits almost every sacrilege imaginable to Tiki's holiest concotion... and still manages to produce a good result! Seriously Joe, gin? Orange juice? Bitters? Red superball cocktail cherries? Freaking Blue Curaçao? What, all out of commercial "grenadine", were you? Chef-blogger Nathan Hazard, whose blog sports the gloriously inexplicable moniker of The Chocolate of Meats, pulls off no mean feat in The Tigress—a completely juiceless Tiki drink! I don't have the time to produce his pineapple cordial which ties it all together, which is too bad because I think this might be an ideal culmination of this year's unofficial Tiki Month theme of cocktail-style Tiki drinks. Another Tiki cocktail, a dessert one this time, is the Hawaii-O, from Danish blogger Andrea at Gin Hound. She takes a long-forgotten candy and inverts it into a cocktail. Chocolate and pineapple go really well together under all circumstances, but with a healthy dose of rum? Yum. The only thing I don't like about this post is that it reminds me that I did no dessert drinks myself this time through Tiki Month.... One of my favorite bloggers, and one of my wife's favorite bartenders, Jacob Grier of Liquidity Preference takes the classic Nui Nui and beers it up with Inversion IPA! I'd wax on here about the very interesting head Jacob gets on the drink from shaking it with a carbonated ingredient already mixed in, which I'd have never considered doing, but I'm too busy wondering where to find that extraordinary cocktail umbrella. (Bonus: Check out Jacob's Great Moments in Heterosexuality, which I'd previously not noticed.) "Boozenerds" Christa and Shaun offer two Tiki, or at the least Tiki Compliant, cocktails. The Invertita (pictured) is a spicy aromatic drink where the frozen stuff stays under the liquid. The second, the Rogue Wave, is an Old-Fashioned that morphs into a Tiki drink as the frozen fruit nectar ice cubes melt. Tiki is a particularly ice-nerdy genre of drinks, and these are two fun-looking techniques that I intend to try with stuff that isn't Tiki-related too. And I did my aforementioned post as well, in which I "inverted" making a critical Tiki ingredient by, um, not making said critical Tiki ingredient. There are plenty more worthwhile (though not Tiki) posts outlined in Stewart's roundup post. Do go check them out as well!
And hey! This post is part of Tiki Month 2013 here at the Pegu Blog! Be sure to look around for LOTS more Tiki stuff all February!abc
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