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Kevin Liu

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Posts posted by Kevin Liu

  1. keep in mind that starting dilution of the drink matters a little bit as well.

    Here's how it would look in theory:


    And here are the experimental results:


    Also, my rules of thumb for shaking vs stirring:


    (high-res files are at http://craftcocktailsathome.com/charts-and-graphics/)

    The thing to remember about stirring is that to reach the minimum theoretical equilibrium temperature, you would need to stir for 2 minutes or more (as Dave Arnold has shown). Unless you're stirring in a perfectly insulated container, the drink will warm up a few degrees in that time.

    Another idea: to get stirred drinks *really* cold, you could toss stir in a few artificial ice cubes (the plastic ones with water inside, or even better the Slushie magic ones with salt water inside). These will allow more chilling with less dilution, though the final equilibrium temperature will always be limited by ABV.

    Hope that helps.

  2. Just made an Army & Navy, from Bartender's Choice, thanks to FrogPrincesse's post. I'm using the Orgeat I made back in October 2011 (see page 7). It smells like it might have refermented, but it hasn't gone black or fuzzy or anything. I'll be OK, right?

    In any case, the cocktail is TIP TOP! (And also, probably time to make new orgeat)

    How did you get homemade orgeat to last 1 1/2 years?

    i made 750ml of it and didn't use much of it...


    I should have seen that answer coming. Nice! But what I meant was, even if I do a 2:1 sugar : base orgeat (which I don't, but I tried it just to see how much it helped shelf life) and keep it in a very cold fridge, I've never got anywhere close to that shelf life. Now you have me thinking maybe I'm being over-cautious and tossing it too soon. I have a batch in the fridge that's been in there for 3 months or so that I was planning to dump. I just went and checked it and there's no funky smell or mold, just a layer of fat that's separated out at the top. Now I'm almost tempted to give it a good shake and try it. Maybe I'll wait until Saturday night though. That way, if I have to spend the next day with the porcelain lay-z-boy, at least I won't be at work.

    I'd be seriously wary of doing that! I've kept orgeat in the fridge for just over a month and it already started growing mold. In the future, if you're looking to keep your orgeat or any syrup for longer, consider dosing it with a little sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate, generally recognized as safe (GRAS) preservatives.

    Also, the curdling problem upthread I think has to do with the fat vs. carbohydrate ratio. Commercial milks usually add a few hydrocolloids to keep everything dispersed nicely, which is another reason I vouch for simply using commercial almond milk as a base rather than making my own orgeat.

  3. Regarding the shelf life of citrus juices, here's an insightful article by Harold McGee, in which he writes:

    Food technologists define shelf life not by how long it takes for food to become inedible, but how long it takes for a trained sensory panel to detect a “just noticeable difference”

    Just wanted to share that article because he puts the blabber I wrote above into more eloquent words.

  4. @Rafa,

    great comments, thanks a ton. I'm working on getting all the charts and graphics on to the blog now. If you have any specific questions about recipes or techniques please feel free to post here or drop me an email at kevin@craftcocktailsathome.com

  5. Chris, good catch. I struggled a lot with whether to include this chart:

    Citrus Juices.jpg

    Most online references will say that lime and lemon juices should not be stored in the fridge for more than a week or so, but I wasn't able to find any scientific literature to back that up.

    The info on lime juice comes from a review of literature found in Hui (ed.), Handbook of Fruits and Fruit Processing, Page 345. It summarizes a 1961 paper by Ikeda et al. this way:

    "Pasteurized juice can be stored at 2◦C for 15 months without appreciable change in flavor. In untreated samples, changes occur and storage life is limited to about 4.5 months at 27◦C."

    So I actually tried to go *very* conservative in the 1-2 month recommendation, which I found reference for lemon juice, if memory serves me right.

    With that being said,

    "Shelf life" in this context refers specifically to when consumers felt that lime juice was "unacceptable" in flavor. By my testing, I think lime juice gets overly bitter in about a day or so due to enzymatic bittering, which is why I say the juice is best used in 4-10 hours.

    So: I wouldn't use 1-2 month lime juice ever. But I wanted to be complete in my testing, so there you go.

    Does that make sense?

  6. I'm thinking about doing a pineapple-sage mezcal infusion that I've seen on a few cocktail menus over the years. My original plan was to let the pineapple sit in the mezcal for 2-3 weeks (much like the Tequila por Mi Amante recipe) and then add the sage a few days before the end. Is this too long? I see a few people on this thread have done pineapples in overproof rum for only a few days, but with the mezcal at 80 proof it seems like I'd need considerably longer.

    What is the benefit of letting the pineapple sit in the tequila rather than, saying pulverizing the pineapple with the tequila in a blender? I imagine the biggest issue will be filtering/clarification, but if you have a technique for that, is the long rest time really necessary?

  7. Did some mixing and testing over the weekend.

    Used 20 g cut cinchona bark: 1 cup of water (about 220g). Heated to boiling, then steeped for 30 minutes. Cooled (had reduced to 1/2 cup), then strained through a DIY 1-micron polyester filter rigged to an aeropress.

    The result was gorgeous, a transparent light-brown with no sediment.

    Added a half cup of water to get it back to original dilution, as well as 220g of sugar to create a syrup.

    I found that this syrup tastes great with gin, but it's still a little bit too sweet and not bitter enough. I think I will up the cinchona even more. Also, I found that citric acid is absolutely crucial, but in small quantities, as Chris mentioned. Adding lemon juice and lime juice somehow just don't cut it.

  8. replacements.com has a pretty good selection of 4-ish ounce champagne coupe glasses for around $4/glass, plus shipping. Search for "tall sherbet". The style of glass I'm talking about is reflected in the below image.

    Also, if you search Amazon for "Schott Zwiesel", you can find a good selection of smaller highball, collins, and single old-fashioned glasses, though they're not under that name. The single old-fashioned's are called "pre-dinner" glasses and the small highballs are called juice glasses.


  9. You could try a buchner funnel.

    *thread hijack*

    Along these lines, what are some other clarification techniques out there for controlling particulate matter?

    I know of Dave Arnold's agar method, but what has your experience been with other techniques? charcoal? superbags?

  10. So I just finished reading all 31 pages of this thread. A few notes:

    - There was a discussion upthread about the impact of a bitters' ABV on flavor.

    Water is a highly polar solvent; alcohol is mostly polar, but with a non-polar tail, which means it is better at dissolving things like essential oils, which are non-polar. There are also many other compounds found in plant material, such as oleoresins, phenols, esters, and complex carbohydrates (such as pectin).

    The ratio of water to ethanol used to extract flavors will impact the rate at which various compounds are extracted. Therefore, using differing ratios of alcohol to water will result in extracts that have slightly different flavor profiles, assuming the plant material is not completely extracted. (note, though, that that is an assumption I have not proven).

    - There have also been discussions relating to whether bitters should be produced by combining individual tinctures/essences/extracts, or whether plant matter should be combined in a final recipe together with an extraction medium

    Scientifically, the best way to make bitters would be to optimally extract each individual ingredient and then blend those extracts into the exact desired flavor profile.

    However, I think the reason many bitters seem to turn out better when all the material is extracted together may be due how the extraction of a chemical from certain plant matter affects how much of a similar chemical is extracted from another.

    For example: let's say you want to make bitters using cinnamon and cinchona (quinine). Let's pretend that each material has only two chemical components - (1) a floral note and (2) a bitter note. Extracted separately, you might get 30 units of floral and 30 units of bitter from cinnamon; ditto with the cinchona. Combined, though, the bitter units of the cinnamon might extract more quickly than the cinchona's bitter components, so the finished product looks something like

    30 parts floral cinnamon

    20 parts bitter cinnamon

    30 parts floral cinchona

    10 parts bitter cinchona

    The result would be a bitters product that could never be produced by extracting ingredients individually.

    I'd love to hear if any folks w/ chemistry backgrounds can verify my thoughts


  11. fellow bitters makers: a question, or rather a recurrent situation which, if properly solved will help me (and i would imagine others) understand something which presently confounds me:

    i'm attempting a peychaud's substitute (among other things), we'll use this as our example- here's my first attempt:

    20.75g caraway

    20 anise

    20 fennel

    20 hibiscus

    15 coriander

    15.55 lemon peel (good amount of pith)

    15 orange (good amount of pith)

    2.9 gentian

    3.1 nutmeg

    .8 white cardamom seeds (no husk)

    no added sugar

    this mixture was steeped in an 80%abv (500ml 96% + 100ml water) solution of ethanol and water for 2 weeks. the solids were strained/squeezed (425ml of 80% menstruum set aside) and simmered in 800ml water for 10 mins, then steeped for an additional week. this is a standard method with which i'm sure you're all familiar.

    after the week of water/solids steeping, i combined 425ml of 80% menstruum with 255ml of tisane (this would result in a solution of 50%abv). this mixture was shaken to combine and left undisturbed for 5 days. as is typical, a large gelatinous floating layer arose. the jar was placed in a freezer for several hours and then filtered through double cheesecloth. the resulting liquid measures 530ml, is crystal clear, and the desired shade of rose.

    i assume that the gelatinous layer are oils and perhaps pectin that have precipitated out of solution--

    my question is: out of which liquid have they emerged? the answer is probably both, but is there a bias? has more oil/pectin come out of the water solution or the alcohol solution?

    the piece of information i'm trying to nail down is, what is the %abv of this 530ml resulting liquid?

    if i assume that all the gelatinous material precipitated from the water, the math is easy-- 425ml @ 80% + 105ml water @ 0% = .64%abv

    if it's all from the alcohol then- 295ml @ 80% + 255ml @ 0% = 45%abv

    if it's an even split, then the abv is hovering in the 50% range.

    vinometers don't measure abv this high, and normal spirit alcohol meters are flummoxed by anything more than ethanol and water.

    how do i determine the abv of these resulting solutions?

    my nose and tongue tell me that the solution is at least 50%, but any additional information or experience that y'all could provide would be much appreciated.



    p.s.- the resulting flavor is much too anise-heavy, i need to balance the anise and add more fruitiness (cherry or cranberry?) to get closer to peychaud's. and yes, i understand that the original is fine just the way it is, but i'm in istanbul and the likelihood that peychaud's will ever be imported to turkey is practically nil. hell- we don't even have angostura yet.

    Alex, I'm not sure I understand the question: I think you're asking how much alcohol being trapped by the pectin mass when you strain the pectin out? I would guess the pectin would trap water and alcohol in roughly equal amounts, so your ABV should be roughly the same as it started out.


  12. I use a two-stage approach: first, i toss the beans into a 350F oven for about 20 minutes to get them up to temperature. Then I heat them on the stovetop for about 3-5 minutes, depending on bean type and desired roast. I've found this method produced more even and consistent results.

    The stovetop portion could easily be replaced with a heat-gun high-heat stage, if the stovetop isn't convenient for whatever reason.

    Full details http://sciencefare.org/2012/02/22/better-home-roast-coffee-two-stage/

  13. @Carolyn Phillips-

    Yes, please! If you would be so kind to fill out this form, I'll get in touch with recipes to test :-)

    @Kerry Beal

    Vermouth is super fascinating. The true expert on the subject would be bostonapothecary. His blog is a must-read and he's been giving me a lot of great input behind the scenes too. I'd love to hear what about what you've been working on. good recipes for Vermouth (and other aperitifs) are so hard to come by!

    @Chris Amirault

    I'm so glad you brought up these points. I wanted to write a book rather than start a new blog because I wanted these ideas to be presented as a package. It's kind of like the difference between searching the archives of cocktail virgin/slut and leafing through Gary Regan's Annual Manual for Bartenders. Or between digging through ideasinfood's website versus buy Alex and Aki's book. Both forms of media are valid and complimentary.

    I definitely recognize that no book will beat the speed of innovation on blogs and forums, so I plan to offer whatever this ends up looking like in both print and online forms. I'm hoping to keep the online version under $10 to make it widely accessible. If this whole thing flops or I lose my nerve, then I'll post all the material I've collected so far either on here or somewhere else easily accessible.

    Any feedback on those thoughts, Chris?

  14. Hi everyone,

    I'm finally ready to share a project I've been secretly brewing for the last few months: a book covering the science of cocktails.


    I've found some of the most cutting-edge work on cocktails right here on these forums and I'm hoping revive a few dormant threads. I'm really excited to see what awesome ideas you guys have cooking up. And I'll keep updating my progress right here as this project moves forward.

    I would really appreciate it if you check out cocktailscience.posterous.com and let me know what additions you'd make or experiments you'd love to see tried.

    Thanks in advance for your collective wisdom :-)

  15. Couldn't you simply take the sphere and toss it back into the freezer? You'd have to do this ahead of time, but I'm assuming that if you go to the trouble of building an ice-sphere carver, you'll be willing to make some ice in advance?

  16. I'd just like to point out that http://www.awesomedrinks.com/ seems to carry proper (single) old-fashioned glasses and 11 oz highball/ 12 oz collins glasses. They're super-expensive in small quantities, though ($25 for 4).

    I'm hoping to revive this thread - anyone know of good, cheap places to find cocktail glassware? I've pretty much emptied out all the thrift stores in the area already.

    Also, what's the best highball glass size? I was thinking 8 to 10 oz.

  17. I'd really like to experiment with speeding up the infusion process, both for practicality's sake and so I can test different recipes side-by-side.

    A few ideas:

    - what about macerating the dried spices with a small amount of neutral oil first to more fully dissolve essential oils? the resulting oil would then have to be emulsified into the liqueur

    - did everyone else macerate the spices dry in a mortar and pestle and then add to alcohol? what about blending the alcohol and spices in something like a vitamix or food processor?

    - can anyone elaborate on the suggested "aging" step? specifically, what is the science behind what's happening there and can it be sped up? For example, if it's a question of oxidation, maybe the liqueur could be "rapid-aged" by decanting using the Modernist Cuisine blender method?

    Any insights are much appreciated!

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