More Mineral Water Info from a Book on Soda
May 30, 2013
Another useful resource in my exploration of water in spirits and cocktails is Darcy O'Neil's book Fix the Pumps.
The book focusses on the history and mechanics of the pre-Prohibition soda fountain. Though largely filled with information on sodas, it includes a chapter and some recipes on mineral waters.
Before global shipping became easy, soda fountains made their own soda and mineral waters, with the carbonation being the main attraction.
Here are a few things I learned from the book:
- Club Soda is a trademarked brand. Seltzer water was a brand but is now generic.
- Carbonation's sensation on the tongue is a chemical sensation rather than a mechanical one. O'Neil likens it to eating peppers, which release endorphins in response to the mild noxious action on the tongue, so the end result is a pleasurable experience.
- Bubble formation in carbonated water is affected by CO2 pressure (more pressure gives larger bubbles), temperature (colder allows more CO2 to go into solution), and nucleation points (stuff in the water and imperfections in the serving glass).
- Common minerals found in mineral waters are calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. But most minerals waters have a relatively low sodium chloride (table salt) level, compared with sodium carbonate/bicarbonate (baking soda).
- One should add mineral salts to plain water then carbonate it, as they don't dissolve well in already-carbonated water.
- Sometimes it is hard to get all the salts to dissolve. O'Neil provides a chart of the order in which they should be added for best dissolution.
There are also recipes for 12 soda waters in the book, which are useful as comparisons more than recipes as they're scaled for batches of 19 to 50 liters.
There's a lot more in the book (and you really should buy it for the soda stuff- it's fascinating) but those were a few take-aways for my experiments.
Now it's back to the lab for me...
The Water Project on Alcademics is research into water in spirits and in cocktails, from the streams that feed distilleries to the soda water that dilutes your highball. For all posts in the project, visit the project index page.
Awesome. You looked into the book. It's added another dimension to my bartending.
Posted by: Andre Bland | May 31, 2013 at 02:03 PM
I think the soda fountain-cocktail crossover is some of the most exciting stuff happening in cocktail bars right now, all thanks to Darcy's book.
Posted by: Camper English | May 31, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Thanks Camper. If you really want to dig deep into mineral waters, check out this book from 1913 called "Mineral & Aerated Waters" http://www.archive.org/stream/mineralaeratedwa00mitcrich
There's even interesting story on acquiring a sample of water from the sacred well at Mecca (page 6).
Posted by: Darcy | June 02, 2013 at 05:50 AM
Thanks for the tip!
Posted by: Camper English | June 02, 2013 at 05:05 PM