Cognac Oil and Nuclear Weapons

Over at Art of Drink this month, Darcy dons his white lab coat for some cocktail mad science. Entitled Cognac Oil, his post is an entertaining look at employing some non-traditional ingredients, such as the titular essential oil, to create a non-alcoholic drink that tastes like, well, a drink. It’s a fun post, with some great opportunities for drink-geeking out.

I’m not going to rehash what he does to make his drink. It’s his post, so go read it on his site. The link will open a new tab, so go on. I’ll be here when you get back because I want to talk about why you should be interested.

In his introduction, Darcy touches on this with what he calls his “buzz management concept”. This is something every responsible drinker does in one way or another, and with varying degrees of conscious effort. Simply put, if you want your evening to last long, and end well, you need to drink just enough of the right strength of drinks to let the alcohol take effect… without taking over. For a variety of reasons, this can be difficult.

You can always nurse your drink, but with possible exception of red wine, this is almost always unsatisfactory. The great Savoy barman Harry Craddock famously said, “The way to drink a cocktail is quickly, while it is still laughing at you.” Nurse a cocktail, and it gets warm. It was designed and balanced for consumption cold, and almost no up drink will taste as good once it starts to warm. Nurse a rocks drink and it may stay cold, but it will get watery. Ditto on the effects on the flavor there.

You could just go home (or go to bed if you are already there) the moment you reach your safe, effective limit. The less said about this ridiculous option, the better. The chief benefit of social drinking is the social bit. If you shut down just when things get good,you might as well have just curled up with a good book instead. It’s cheaper.

You can always mix in something non-alcoholic between in each round. Some suggest a glass of water between each drink as a way to slow you down and keep you hydrated to ward off some of the hangover. But water is boring, and well fish f*ck in it. You could try a “mocktail” or Preggatini, but I find them usually unsuitable for this task. Many are delicious, but usually they are far too sweet, and almost none offer the balance and depth of a good mixed drink. Very few non-alcoholic concoctions offer any reward if you take a moment to ignore a boring stretch of the conversation and just savor your third sip.

Fixing this last is what Darcy is trying to accomplish with his cognac-esque no or low-alcohol cocktail: An evening extender that you can consume in like manner to a full throttle one. This is a worthy goal, and one every ambitious bartender on Earth should work on too.

Face it folks, booze is a powerful thing. Too much will result in, at best, a bad morning and some embarrassment. But enough, especially if you maintain the right balance between consumption and metabolization, is even more powerful. Moderate drinkers may be more intelligent, and are certainly more creative. Drink well, and rule the world. Drunk too much, and destroy it. Darcy’s just trying to save the world, folks.

I’ll leave you with this little cautionary tale about the power of being just exactly one and a half drinks in, which Darcy’s post led me to recall. (Not safe for work because of mild language and your loud laughter.)


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