Sunday, May 27, 2012

DRAMBUIE® Smoke-N-Milk

After winning his second Indy 500 race in 1933, Louis Meyer requested a glass of buttermilk. He requested another glass in 1936 after winning his third title, but instead received a bottle. With three fingers raised, he was captured by a photographer while drinking from that bottle, and the marketing opportunity wasn't lost on a local dairy executive. Unaware that Meyer was drinking buttermilk, the executive offered a bottle of milk to the winners of all future races, and milk has been presented at the conclusion of almost every Indy 500 since then. In honor of that tradition, here's my Drambuie-based homage to this classic racing libation.

-In a shaker tin half filled with ice, add:
   1 oz. DRAMBUIE®
   1/2 oz. Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch
-Shake until the tin is frosted, add:
   1 oz. Milk
-Swirl to chill thoroughly.
-Pour into a rocks glass, add:
   1 dash Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
-Garnish with an orange twist.
-Serve with a cocktail stirrer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sobering Up

One of the rare well-framed questions on Quora.

Q: How long does it take to an average person to sober up completely after being drunk?  Let's suppose person A gets very drunk at 11 PM on a Monday.  By what hour on what day might we expect person A to finally become 100% sober?

A: The average person can metabolize about 1 standard drink per hour, which is a) a mixed drink containing 1.25 oz. of 80 proof liquor, b) a 12-oz. American pilsner beer containing about 5% alcohol by volume, c) a 5 oz. glass of wine, or d) one 1.25 oz. shot of 80 proof liquor.  To approximate how long it would take to sober up after drinking alcohol, you'd need to count the number of standard drinks you've consumed (adjusting for larger/stronger drinks) and wait that many hours.  There's no way to speed up the process (e.g., drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, eating, etc.) -- once you've ingested the alcohol, you just have to wait for your body to metabolize it.

Using the example above and assuming an average person weighs 150 lbs, they will reach a blood alcohol content of roughly 0.16% after about 7 standard drinks.  This is twice the legal limit to drive, which is a reasonable definition of "very drunk."  To sober up would therefore take 7 hours.  Tolerance (i.e., experience drinking) doesn't affect this at all, and again nothing can shorten the time it takes to metabolize the alcohol.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Alcohol in Bread

Great question from a journalist I've been working with:

Q: Anthony, I want to explain to readers that beer and bread have similar ingredients, but why you get a buzz from drinking beer and not from eating bread.

A: There are four ingredients in traditional beer: water, barley, yeast, and hops. Bread is made from the first three of these ingredients but doesn't have hops, which are added to beer as a preservative and bittering agent to balance the sweetness of the barley. Beer is often referred to as "liquid bread" because of this similarity in ingredients, and one of the theories on how we invented beer is that people were collecting barley to make bread and left it out in the rain, thus adding more water than you'd find in bread as well as yeast that floated into the mixture from the air.

Most people think yeast breaks the sugars in barley down into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, but that's actually a secondary reaction. Initially, yeast breaks sugar down into pyruvate, which is composed of three carbon atoms. In the presence of air (as in bread) the yeast is then able to completely combine these carbon atoms with oxygen atoms and form CO2. Without air (like in the bottom of a barrel of fermenting beer) the yeast can't combine all of the carbon with oxygen, and so the pyruvate is converted into both ethanol and CO2. Thus beer ends up alcoholic and bubbly, while bread dough just ends up bubbly. Hope this helps!