An easy way to make clear ice for drinks

If you've ever looked into making clear ice for drinks, you know that there are all sorts of assertions about needing to boil the water first, or using filtered water, or you need a special clear ice maker.

According to Nick, the Cocktail Chemist, in this video, all you need is a small 6-pack cooler with the lid removed.

Thanks to directional freezing, all of the impurities (clouding, bubbles) will settle to the bottom of the open cooler as you freeze it and the top section of the resulting ice block will be clear. You then simply remove the block and cut off the bottom part to have a clear block of ice remaining.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

That next cocktail could burn you – literally

I spent a long time in Mexico this past winter. My wife and I traveled to Play Del Carmen and stayed there for months while she completed some rigourous scuba instructor training. While she was in the water, which was most days, I stayed ashore to write, drink and nosh. Many a chilled beverage was had on beach front patios (I was there for the WiFi, honest.) I squeezed lemons and limes into my drinks. They were amazingly fresh--like nothing I'd ever had up north. Apparently, I dodged a number of bullets.

From The CBC:

On a sunny day in June, Amber Prepchuk spent an afternoon by the lake making margaritas for a group of friends. The following morning she ended up with much more than she bargained for — a painful side effect entirely unrelated to tequila.

"I can handle pain, but I woke the next morning and I was in pain. I was crying my eyes out." she told CBC's Radio Active. "I was covered in little blisters."

Amber Prepchuk... learned the hard way the meaning of 'margarita burn,' when she juiced limes in the sun and the next morning woke up with blisters all over her hands.


Margarita burn. Never heard the tell of that. So, I looked it up. Oh my stars and garters.

Margarita burn, better known as margarita photodermatitis, is a condition which occurs in folks who are exposed to a photo-sensitizing agent (lime juice, for example,) and ultraviolet light (ye olde sunlight.) Read the rest

Stainless steel martini shaker for $(removed)

Yippee! My wife has started making dirty martinis (vodka, a swish of vermouth, and olive brine) lately, and I have been drinking them, after having been a virtual teetotaler for many years. Our old cocktail shaker was missing its lid, so I ordered this stainless steel shaker, which is on sale for $(removed) on Amazon. It also comes with a jigger. The price dropped from $(removed) in April, so this is quite a deal. Read the rest

How to make a smoke bomb cocktail

In this video, Cocktail Chemistry lab shows you how to fill a hollow ice sphere with smoke, so you can crack or melt it open when the drink is served. Instructions here. Read the rest

Use 50ml chemistry beakers as shot glasses

50ml is 1.7 ounces. which makes these glass beakers perfect for serving a healthy shot of liquor. You can buy a set of 12 for $(removed) on Amazon. Read the rest

Copper mugs for Moscow Mules

I'm not much of a drinker, and I didn't know what a Moscow Mule was until I saw the Bali Hai episode of Better Call Saul. The drink, made from vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice, poured over ice, was served to Kim Wexler (my favorite character on the show, played by Rhea Seehorn) in a copper mug. Recently, I went on vacation with my wife, and she ordered a Moscow Mule at a restaurant. It was served in a copper mug. It turns out you are supposed to serve them that way.

The origins of the Moscow Mule are a bit murky, but it appears to have been invented in the early 1940s by the owner of a Hollywood pub on the Sunset Strip called the Cock 'n' Bull. The bartender wanted to clean out a slow-moving stockpile of Smirnoff's and bottled ginger beer that had been gathering dust on the shelves in the backroom, so he mixed them together and started serving them in copper mugs to the movie stars who frequented the pub. It became an instant hit, at least until McCarthyism scared people away from anything with the taint of Sovietism to it. But the Moscow Mule had a kick that people liked, and it made a comeback in the 1960s, which it enjoys today.

You can buy a set of 4 copper mugs with brass handles for $(removed) on Amazon. I just bought a set, and am looking forward to mixing up a batch of Moscow Mules the next time we have friends over for dinner. Read the rest

The Bar Book gives you a 360-degree education in barcraft

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

As someone who spent many misguided years of my youth drinking poorly-eyeballed gin and tonics out of coffee mugs, I never really understood: How exactly can you make cocktails "well" or "poorly"? Isn't it a simple matter of ratios – of pouring the right amount of the right things into a glass, chucking in an ice cube or two and calling it a day? Where is the mysterious opportunity in that simple process to either mess it up or do it exceptionally well? Jeffrey Morgenthaler's The Bar Book is a masterclass on that very subject.

The Bar Book is not a recipe book. Instead, it is a techniques book. Morgenthaler elevates making cocktails into a craft, focusing on finding the right recipe, using the best ingredients, and executing it all using effective techniques. While the author does include expertly curated recipes for some must-know cocktails, instead of focusing on what to mix (which can always be found with a quick Google of "how to make a Cosmopolitan"), it focuses on how, why, and when to mix it. He gives you a 360-degree education in barcraft, from what shapes cocktail shakers come in and what the differences mean to why the shape and size of your ice is important and how to make it so that it comes out of the tray clear and beautiful. He’s a big proponent of making things like mixers, garnishes and even liqueurs from scratch, so the book offers up recipes for making things like flavored syrups, infusions, and even tonic water. Read the rest