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The Science of Sweet in the San Francisco Chronicle

Here is my latest story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

less sweet drink by darcy
(A Gin-to-the-fire cocktail was photographed in the SF Chronicle studio on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 in San Francisco, Calf. Photo: Mike Kepka / The Chronicle)

Sweetening drinks can be a science

Camper English, Special to The Chronicle
Friday, January 8, 2010

Gin that bruises, 500-year-old secret recipes and miracle hangover cures. The world of cocktails is rife with myths and misinformation. As we slowly move out of the Dark Ages and into the cocktail Enlightenment, bartenders are starting to use scientific methodology to disprove hearsay and improve drinks.

Some of that science will be explained Jan. 20 at the Exploratorium. A one-night event (sold out, though the Web site promises to share details for home experiments) will include exhibits on the science behind layering a pousse-café, why absinthe turns white when water is added and how cocktails are affected by the shape of ice.

Having experimented with ice in recent years, many bartenders have moved on to studying sugar. Simple syrup is used to balance acid in many cocktails, so several curious bar types have purchased refractometers and pH meters to measure exact levels of each.

Read the whole story on the science of sweetening drinks here.

Get Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF.