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August 2011

In the Sugar Spirit Project, I've had to use several sources to research material, so I figured I'd list them on this page should you want to read them yourself or check my work. I'll add to the list as I use more resources. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History By Sidney W. Mintz (1985). This book traces the history of sugar but is primarily a sociological study of sugar consumption in England. It traces how sugar became so popular so fast. Sugar: A Bittersweet History By Elizabeth Abbott (2008). In-depth sugar history, spread of sugar,... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

A month ago I attended the Diageo World Class Global Finals (Facebook group here) in New Delhi India. (Most of my posts on the matter can be found by following the India tag.) But I'm not done talking about it - just getting caught up now. There were six challenges in the contest and I sat in on two of them. Peter Dorelli judged the Cocktail Theater and Stars challenge, in which bartenders had to create a drink inspired by a woman; and then perform a fancy version of a bottle service serve. Gaz Regan judged the Gentlemen's Drinks &... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

I figure, why not try the method that looks easiest first, even if it seems doomed to fail? That's what I decided to do as an experiment in dehydrating liqueurs down to sugar: to see what happens when you cook Campari the fastest way possible to get all the liquid out. I put two ounces of Campari in a silicone cupcake cup and tossed it in the microwave. After 30 seconds it boiled over. First it came to a rapid boil, then turned to a real frothy boil. After the liquid evaporated more, the boil turned more gentle; around three... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

In studying the methods bartenders have used to dehydrate liqueurs into flavored powders, I mentioned that I didn't know the complete origin story of the practice. Luckily, Jacob Briars, currently the global brand director for Leblon cachaca (and formerly with 42Below vodka), sent me an email with the full story as he remembers it. You are right, like so many great bartending tricks it has its genesis south of the equator, in early 2006 as I recall, maybe even earlier. As far as I understand it, here is the potted history of 'dust': Many bartenders will have noticed that spirits... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

It had to happen eventually. Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen in San Francisco has put a Negroni on tap. (Kevin Deidrich pours a draft Negroni at Jasper's Corner Tap) (Mmm, fresh Negroni.) The kegs were pretty large, so as Kevin Deidrich explains in the video below, they used two bottles cases each of Plymouth Gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth to fill the keg. Then it's pushed through the line by an inert gas (that doesn't carbonate it but does prevent oxidization) and out of the tap. They serve it on the rocks with a slice of orange. I had one... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

In the Sugar Spirit project, we're going to look at sugar's history and production, but first we should establish what sugar and sugarcane are. Sugar and Sucrose When we talk about sugar, we mean table sugar, or sucrose. To chemists, sugar refers to a class of 'edible crystalline carbohydrates' that also includes fructose and lactose. But most of us aren't chemists so we won't use the word 'sucrose' so much as just 'sugar.' Except for now: Sucrose occurs in all green plants. It is a plant food manufactured photosynthetically from carbon dioxide and water. For table sugar, the plants harvested... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

Today marks the launch of the second Sponsored Project on Alcademics: The Sugar Spirit. The Sugar Spirit Project is sponsored by Bacardi Rum. Rum is made from any sugarcane derivative and is the real sugar spirit, but in this research project I'll primarily be studying sugar itself. In writing about cocktails, we often come across recipes calling for different forms of sugar: demerara, muscovado, evaporated organic cane, superfine, etc. I've wanted to study the differences in those sugars for quite a while now so I'm thankful to Bacardi Rum for giving me the support to do so. Along the way,... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

Contest: The Auchentoshan Switch

I've just learned that I'll be helping judge the finals of The Auchentoshan Switch contest in Las Vegas this October. I am already jealous of the person who wins. We'll pick a winner out of 20(!) finalists in Vegas to fly to London for a two-week job at 69 Colebrooke Row, one of the world's best molecular mixology bars. A UK winner in London will also land a job at an American bar (not allowed to say which but I think it's in New York). I am trying to convince Auchentoshan that they need a journalist to 'switch' and report... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.