Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time

So what did we find out? We did in fact prove that copper makes better egg white foam in a Pisco Sour...when you make it without the lime. We also find out that contrary to what we had read, Lime doesn't help , in fact just the opposite.

Here's the process we used...the recipe was of 2 ounces of Pisco Porton (from my private stash handcrafted by the inimitable Johnny Schuler), 1 ounce of fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1 ounce of simple syrup (1:1 concentration) and three drops of bitters on the foam.

Method 1 was a steel one-piece shaker loaded with a handful of copper plumbing fixtures.

Method 2 was the same recipe using a traditional Boston Shaker.
(For one set of the tests we also tried whisking the mixture in a copper bowl which just made a big mess.)

Results...disappointingly, they were very comparable in terms of amount of foam and stability (I can't tell you how long it lasted because we drank the samples...hey, I'm just saying!)

Then we decided to isolate one of the variables. So we did it a couple of times with the same two methods but without the lime and found that we ended up with much better foaming properties for the copper fitting method...we could even create little peaks in the foam.

When lime was used we couldn't reproduce that. So while that absolutely trustworthy resource Wikipedia said that you can duplicate the effect of whipping egg whites in copper by using citric acid from a lemon, or using cream of tarter (potassium bitartrate), in our tests, we were not able to reproduce those results.

OK, so using copper fittings isn't necessarily a commercial solution, but Fred Yarmj of Cocktail Virgin Slut suggested we try copper scrubbing pads, which we'll do tomorrow...more surface area in contact with the egg, less fracturing of the ice which led to somewhat watered down drinks. then I'm going to go on the hunt for a copper lined shaker...anyone know of a source?

Optimizing Egg White Foam in a Pisco Sour

The idea occurred to my daughter Lindsay and me when she was making a birthday cake for my wife. Why do cooks whip egg whites in copper pots? My first stop was a query to Darcy O'Neil, of Art of Drink fame, drink chemistry guru and author of the definitive book on soda fountains titled Fix the Pumps. His answers combined with a little digging in the literature surfaced the chemistry behind it. There are basically two factors at work here, one physical, and one chemical. The physical whisking folds air into the albumen creating the foam. But it also unravels some of the amino acid molecules "opening them up" to combine with the air and water. When you whip in copper, the physical contact with the whisk frees up some copper ions that combine with the sulphur in eggs to make those unraveled amino acid bonds with water and air much more stable...yielding a more stable foam.

So the next question was, how come we don't use copper lined shakers in bars that make drinks with egg whites as an ingredient like the Pisco Sour, Ramos Gin Fizz et al.?

Darcy didn't have an answer to that one, nor a source for copper-lined shakers, though he did suggest testing the theory with copper ball bearings, the thought being ice may not be hard enough in a shaker to release the copper ions. (and a suggestion to use a solid metal shaker rather than a Boston Shaker!)

Two other alternative methods that improve foam stability are to add an acid (citric acid from the limes in the recipe may already be maximizing the foam),and cream of tartar which also lowers the pH.

So we're going to do some experimenting and determine whether or not we can use this copper/egg white interaction to make a better Pisco Sour. Not having access to copper ball bearings, I'm thinking I'll stop by the hardware store for some copper plumbing fittings and a micrometer and stop watch to measure foam height and stablility.

Stay tuned...more to come.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, how I am so easily entertained by a Turkey trotting around in his Chucks...
Wishing you, your family, and your friends and very Happy Thanksgiving.

Now, what are you doing online? Go eat and drink up!!



The Year's Most Exciting Wines

How does one even begin to narrow down all the choices of high-rate wines into one list of the Year's Most Exciting Wines? Wine Spectator has managed to do tackle that very feat, releasing a Top 100 List At A Glance. There's even more in-depth coverage that is available on the site for a brief period of time free of charge, with profiles, tasting notes, and videos of many of the stand-out products.

What managed to catch my eye was that a wine I just happened to introduce on the Drinks blog in my "tales of three cities" roundup, the Stadt Krems Gruner Veltliner, made the final cut! The Austrian wine of the Kremstal region sits proudly at No. 93 on the list - another Austrian protege, the Knoll Gruner Veltliner, made it to No. 72.

Attached here is a PDF profiling the wines at a glance; so now begins the task of stocking up on all these fantastic bottles!



What's new with D4TH?

It's been a week since I last updated, so my apologies for the gap between posts. There's more posts trickling in following attendees of the Beer Bloggers Conference, Harry Potter is in theatres tonight and needed a cocktail recipe, and Thanksgiving is knocking on the door.

There's just so much to write and not enough time to write it all down. But because you took the time to come here and I respect and appreciate that, here's a video of a Rube Goldberg beer pouring machine.

You're welcome. :)


Different Strokes for Different Folks

As the old saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans do. And, with all my traveling over the last few weeks or so, I’ve got a (warning: long!) post that adopts many of the drinking habits in the three different US cities who welcomed me with gorgeous fall weather, and of course, delicious drinks. Here goes:

Portland, OR and Wine:

While Portland, Oregon has deservedly earned the reputation of being a beer or spirits city before wine, one of my greatest finds in the downtown area, just a dash up 12th Street from the plethora of alluring food carts, was a restaurant and wine bar fit for northern Europe. As described on its website, Gruner “draws on the affinity between the geographies of the Pacific Northwest and the alpine regions of northern Europe,” namely Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Romania. It just so happened that, many many time zones away, the EWBC was streaming live when I stumbled into Gruner for lunch on a busy Friday afternoon. Why not indulge in glass of vino!?

I happily elected the only Gruener Veltliner on the lunch menu available by the glass, a 2009 Stadt Krems of the Kremstal region. After consulting with wine guru Constance and her post on the Austrian Wine USA blog, I learned that this fresh and fruit-forward Gruener is part of a municipality of 52 vineyards in Austria. I’d recommend giving the Austrian Wine Blog a read to learn more about these particular Austrian vineyards.

While the food was hearty and flavorful, the service at Gruner during this particular visit was anything but memorable. What did help to end my visit on a pleasant note was the curious method of presenting my check in a worn paperback book. My particular novel was Weimar Culture by Peter Gay, a reflection of 20th century culture in Germany; even more to my pleasure, the first page I flipped to was Gay’s written portrait (along with images, too) of the 1920 expressionist thriller The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Loved it!

Boulder, CO and Beer:

While I certainly had heard the tales before making my first visit to Boulder, Colorado for the 1st Beer Bloggers Conference, I didn’t realize just how beer-centric this college mountain town is. Needless to say, I was both overwhelmed and impressed. In what was dubbed “The Night of Many Bottles”, I had the opportunity to try Denver-local Bush & Bull’s seasonal Royal Oil, a 12% ABV English-style barley wine called Royal Oil, which is aged for two years in whiskey barrels. Tasting like chocolate-covered cherries and oak from the whiskey barrels, this sweet, malty beer was among my favorite seasonal selection in the plethora of Colorado selections.

My other particularly favorite offering was, ironically, the last beer I sampled at BBC10 – the Agave Wheat from Breckenridge Brewery. While pale ales are by no means at the top of my beer-drinking list, this beer to me was completely refreshing and offered a light amount of hops that wasn’t too overbearing or bitter. Plus, the subtle flavoring of agave was right up my alley! Mix a glass 50-50 of Agave Wheat with orange juice and you have yourself a lip-smacking mimosa of sorts – from my picture, you can see it was the perfect "breakfast of champions" for the Sunday morning crowd! Now, about convincing Breckenridge Brewery to distribute to CT…

Beverly Hills, CA and Spirits:

What spirits do you say? Rum, rum, and more rum! That's what I found myself drinking after my adventures meandering through posh Beverly Hills along Wilshire Boulevard led me to the Trader Vic's Mai Tai Lounge poolside at the Beverly Hilton hotel. I pulled myself up to the bar and ordered - but what else? - the Victor "Trader Vic" Bergeron Original Mai Tai.

Trader Vic Mai Tai:

  • 1 oz light rum
  • 1 oz gold rum
  • 1/2 oz orange curacao
  • 1/2 oz orgeat syrup
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • Float 1 oz dark rum

Build in a cocktail shaker and roll between the glass without straining. Garnish with speared cherry and pineapple chunk, and a mint sprig.

Boy, was that cocktail well worth the hype! I also found myself downing a Zombie shortly after my Mai Tai "mysteriously" disappeared; pictured to the right, it was a beautiful version of Donn the Beachcomber's classic of gold and dark rums and it vanished almost as quickly as that damned Mai Tai.

Phew! I have loved discovering all the different drinking trends around the country and hope to continue the adventure more soon! So what's coming up next in my imbibing adventures? Stay tuned to D4TH to find out!

Cheers for now!


Greetings from Boulder, CO!

I've just settled in to lovely Boulder, Colorado (ah, the mountains...) where the 1st Beer Bloggers Conference is prepared to get underway within the next hour or so.

I had quite a goofy ride in the Super Shuttle on my way from the Denver airport - many of the individuals in the car all arrived separately, but quickly became aware they were all headed to the same conference --- a banker's conference. BOOORING! When asked about my plans nearby the Mile High City, I explained my presence at the Beer Bloggers Conference to the delight of discovering that John Holl was in the van with me as well (Jersey and Jerzy, we're off to a great start!). Needless to say, we made a group of bankers very very, VERY jealous and they may be trying to join in our action throughout the weekend. ;)

Today's keynote speakers feature Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director of the Brewers Association, who will speak on “Why Beer Bloggers Further the Revolution”,and Jessica Daynor, Managing Editor of Draft Magazine, who will talk on Beer Bloggers and the relationship with the print media.

I can't wait for the action to get underway! To follow along with all the action from the Beer Bloggers Conference, check out their website, follow along with my tweets using the hashtag #BBC10, and check back in to D4TH.



Yellow Tail Reserve - Blind Tasting Extravaganza

This past Friday I attended a small get together at Vino Vino wine bar in Tribeca, a meet-up organized as part of the Yellow Tail Reserve Blind Tasting event. The event, led by William Tisherman (aka, Tish) was a small gathering of a few industry folk and a few fond friends - it was interesting to contrast the opinions on the wine.

Yellow Tail had shipped Tish four pre-wrapped bottles - the only information we had was that all four were Australian Shiraz. My friend and I arrived a bit late so by the time we reached for wine #1 it had been open a pretty long time. It seems to offend many others, and looking at the twitter stream it seemed that was a general consensus. However, this proved to be my favorite of the night - I got smoke, spice, tobacco, black fruits, a bit toasty - I though it had pronounced flavors. Others, however, felt the wine to be restrained. Interesting... to me it was a typical example of Australian Shiraz...Turned out it was the 2007 Archetype Shiraz from the Barossa Valley - yep, spot on with my tastes there! I'm a big fan of Barossa Shiraz whether it's because I was there in April or because I just love all that concentration, I'm not sure, but I'm sticking to my guns here.

The second, to me, was intensely jammy to the point I felt it was going to hurt my teeth if I took more than two sips. Definitely have its consumer, but at 16% abv, it's likely its consumer won't remember why they like the wine for very long. This wine turned out to be the 2008 Marquis Philips Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia. Not terrible... just wasn't for me.

The third, and what appeared to be crowd favorite across the country, reminded me of whiskey. One sniff, one taste and that is all I got, couldn't get it out of my head. Why the whiskey? Seemed a bit caramelized, a bit unbalanced in the alcohol and its spice and fruit were hard to extract... at least to me. This turned out to be the
2006 D' Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia and it retails for $60! Definitely not a good buy in my mind...

In case you hadn't figured it out yet, that means the fourth wine was the 2008 Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz from South Eastern Australia. To me, putting this wine last was a horrible idea. It had absolutely no personality in comparison to the other three and being the only wine without an appellation also put a damper on the strategy. Yes, it's an easy drinking, mindless wine - good for an easy night in or a general consumer... but still. Truth be told, even as a poor college student I put my nose up at Yellow Tail - I just never liked the taste... opted for other cheap, critter wines like Three Blind Moose and Fish Eye (though this will be the last time I admit that!) I didn't have large expectations for this wine and I could see why some might consider this wine at good value at $11... after all, it's the reserve line, right?

Issues I see here:
1. Yellow Tail is going to have a heck of a time shaking their image as a cheap wine, regardless of their new, fancy label. In my mind, it's more likely to be made the party joke than the party's prize wine.

2. As if they hadn't damaged the image of Australian wine enough, Yellow Tail has now slapped the word "reserve" on it's cheap, party wine protruding yet another obstacle for other winemakers in Australia... those bastards.

Truth be told, there was at least one attendee that stated she preferred the Yellow Tail, but her reasoning, and we can't say it was necessarily sober tasting reasoning, was that it was so easy to drink... a wine for "everyone"... no one could hate it. I guess that's true, although I'm pretty sure the words disgusting were uttered from my mouth (not to be harsh or anything....)

I was sent home with the parting gift of a bottle of Yellow Tail Reserve Cabernet.... guess we'll have to pop that baby open sometime soon.

What are your thoughts? Have you tasted it?

Cheers mates!


Wrapping Up Portland Cocktail Week

What a fantastic trip to Portland, Oregon for the first Portland Cocktail Week and Drink.Write 2010! I had such a wonderful time exploring the food and drink in this city and can't wait to come back for another visit. For those of you not following me along my trip through Twitter (you've unleashed the havoc of THE FAIL WHALE if you didn't...but seriously, hilarious Twitter video linked up here), let me fill you in a bit on some of my happenings on my west coast adventure.

Drink.Write was two days jam-packed of lectures on a variety of industry-relevant topics:
blogging ethics, increasing your readership and engagement, making your own ingredients, and website design only reach the tip of the iceberg. But what drew me to Portland was the Welcome Reception the CSOWG hosted on Wednesday evening for its members (they were kind enough to include me as well!) to usher in the beginning of the conference. Mandarine Napoléon sponsored the welcome event at Portland's Bluehour restaurant, a fantastic restaurant and bar where they've got a knack for craft cocktails. If you have a chance to visit Portland this fall, their seasonal cocktail menu boasts a great recipe called the East India Sour that was deeee-lish (Maker's, lemon juice, and house-made cardamom spiced caramel syrup)!

Back on track...Alan Akwai of Bluehour served up four Mandarine Napoléon cocktails to the delight of the crowd, including the Mandarine Sour, whose praises I've sung (well, spoken, you don't actually want me singing...) plenty before. We also served the TDN-inspired Lillet Tomlin (picture on the left from the Mixoloseum Facebook Page), of which I rather unsuccessfully attempted to recreate previously on my own...gosh, I can't believe I'm actually linking to this again!

We also served two other drinks that came out of the TDN hosted in May, the Mandarine Happiness and Napoleon vs. Wellington:

Mandarine Happiness (picture on right from the Mixoloseum Facebook Page)
  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz Mandarine Napoléon
  • 1/2 oz Domaine de Canton
Stirred with ice and served on the rocks with a splash of ginger beer.

Napoleon vs. Wellington
  • 1 oz blended scotch
  • 1 oz Mandarine Napoléon
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

What a fun and unique way to kick off a weekend dedicated to craft spirits and original cocktail blogging! Thank you to CSOWG for including me in all the fun and thank you again to Bluehour for hosting our event in their beautiful private dining space.