This post is part of a mini-project looking at sweet and sour elements in cocktails, sponsored by PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur.
I'm rounding up some thoughts and conclusions for this mini project on sweetness and sourness in cocktails, and proposing some ideas for future study.
In this project we looked at:
- A look at basic tastes including receptors on the tongue for sweet and sour.
- How sweetness is an innate craving and how that makes us seek it out in our food and drink.
- Understanding sourness and how we measure acidity using pH.
- Rounding up the lime-to-sugar aka the sour-to-sweet ratio of different cocktail bars in the US and around the world to see how they differ.
- Measuring how the pH of lime juice changes as it ages.
Thoughts and a Few Conclusions
- Sweetness and Sourness are basic tastes, yet each one suppresses the perception of the other.
- In measuring sweetness and sourness, however, we don't use the same tools or scales: sugar concentration, for example, is measured in Brix. Acid content is measured by pH.
- Because (as far as I know) acidity doesn't effect Brix and vice-versa, we can't neccesarily say that a drink a cocktail has an ideal Brix or pH level, as those could have a balancing amount of the other element.
Thoughts for future experiments:
- Measure the Brix-to-pH ratio of different cocktails to learn more about balance:
- For a basic Daiquiri, measure this ratio, then see how much it changes by adding more or less sugar/lime - what is the numerical value of a really sweet Daiquiri, and a very Sour one?
- Remake a few different Daiquiris to see how variable the measurement is. Change things like temperature and dilution to see if Brix-to-pH is a good indicator of balance in cocktails
- Measure this ratio using the Basic Sour recipes from various bars (being aware that their limes may be different than mine).
- Measure this ratio at various bars within one city to see the range
- Measure this ratio in classic cocktails to see how different cocktails differ in this ratio
- Study citrus aging more, as many readers seemed very interested in this, for example:
- See if lemon juice changes pH more or less dramatically over time compared with orange juice
- See if unstrained citrus juice changes pH faster or slower than strained citrus juice.
- See if citrus juice with a lot of citrus oil in it changes pH faster or slower than citrus with a minimum of oil
Maybe I'll get to those some time in the future.
A sincere Thank You goes to the folks at PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur for funding this short exploration. The reason for their indulgence in me is that PAMA is both sweet and tart, unlike most liqueurs that are just sweet. This allows you to add it to existing cocktails without necesarily having to rebalance the sweet-to-sour ratio.