Items of Interest in The Tasting Panel Magazine
Camper in Chinese

Bartending Techniques Seen at World Class 2011

In what should be my final post about the Diageo World Class Global Finals, I wanted to mention a few cool tricks I saw from bartenders that might be fun to experiment with. 

(A bubbling dry ice drink from Heinz Kaiser)

Henning Neufeld of Switzerland used vodka and ice, instead of water and ice, to cool his cocktail glasses. He said this was because vodka freezes at a lower temperature than water, you could get the glasses colder.

Other bartenders used dry ice for this same purpose, but there was a lot of dry ice around. 

Heinz Kaiser of Austria stirred one of his drinks with dry ice. Dry ice, as we know, is made of carbon dioxide and sublimates from the solid state to the gas state without turning liquid in between. In doing so, this cools the cocktail without dilution, but Heinz made the additional point that the releasing CO2 gas also carbonates the cocktail.

Manabu Ohtake did his bottle service pour through flaming cyprus wood chips. He did this not just to flavor it, but because both the flaming and the aeration from pouring softens the spirit.

Torsten Spuhn of Germany, seeking to recreate the flavors of brands of bitters that wouldn't be available at the contest (Indian customs forbid the importing of any alcohol and those brands weren't available), figured out how to use Angostura bitters as a base and flavor them with other ingredients on-site to approximate what he used back home. 

Good stuff.  


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How does the vodka and ice glass chilling make sense? I guess it makes a little sense if the vodka was kept in the freezer, but then you could do away with the ice all together. Otherwise, I don't see how that could matter, aside from tiny differences in heat capacity and conductivity.

Camper English

I think you may be right but it would be interesting to test the effects of the heat capacity for a quick chill using vodka vs water with ice.

Some scientist

It works the same as a salt water and ice solution. The vodka doesn't freeze, so a vodka-ice (or alternatively, saline) slurry can get to a lower temperature than ice water alone (which is limited to 0 degC). Of course, a dry ice + acetone bath is going to be better still.

-Some scientist

Camper English

There's nothing to prepare the palate for a delicious cocktail like a gentle waft of acetone. :) Thanks for the facts!


Um, I'm sure it would work, but.. Isn't that one hell of an expensive way to chill your glasses? You can't exactly use the vodka for drinks afterwards when it's been diluted to an unknown amount.

Just put the glasses in the freezer. Sheesh.

Camper English

Probably not terribly practical in an everyday bar setting, but perhaps say, in a competition in India where it's incredibly hot and there is no glass freezer and the vodka is free? Then it just sounds smart to me!


Ethanol has a heat capacity of about half that of water, so if that's the only difference, the vodka should, in fact, perform worse than water. It's thermal conductivity is about a third that of water.


Ahh, I see. I misunderstood what they were describing.

-another scientist


That's true. I was looking at the technique more at a practical business/home bartending angle.


I'd be interested to see an actual experiment (hint, hint, Camper) to show that this type (adding ethanol OR salt to ice water) of chilling works better than simply using ice water. The salt idea is a lot more common, but I have yet to see an actual experiment that proves it. Yes, I understand the basic premise, but there are several factors involved and wonder if the basic premise actually holds up experimentally.

Camper English

I'll add it to the list of things to do. It's a big list. I need to get more sponsorship on this site so I can just do this stuff all day and not have to write for magazines.


If you are looking for an experiment, Mythbusters had a great segment on "The Fastest Way To Cool a Beer". They used a variety of techniques, including and Iced salt water bath, which was more effective than just ice water alone. They of course showed the data as well. Hope this helps.

Camper English

Thanks - I think the vodka would accomplish the same thing as salt, just more expensively :)

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