Posts tagged ‘alcohol’

Cocktail Terminology

By Chad Upton | Editor

Ordering a cocktail can be as confusing as ordering at starbucks. Here’s a quick guide to help you get it your way.

  • on the rocks – on ice (“rocks”)
  • straight up – chilled in a shaker and strained to remove ice (aka “up” or “shaken”)
  • stirred – served on ice and stirred with a bar spoon
  • neat – served at room temperature, no ice
  • back – a glass of non-alcoholic liquid served with your cocktail, such as water for mixing with Whiskey

If you like martinis, they have a language of their own. Traditionally, a martini is made with gin and dry vermouth, then garnished with a green olive. Many variations have become popular, especially swapping top shelf vodka with gin. Here are some terms for traditional martinis:

  • dry – little to no vermouth
  • wet – extra vermouth
  • dirty – extra olive juice, making it look “dirty” (murky)
  • perfect – equal parts dry and sweet vermouth are used

Cheers!

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Photo: Adrian Hoffmann (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia (on the rocks, martini),  about.com, drinksmixer.com

March 11, 2011 at 2:00 am 7 comments

Boxed Wine Isn’t Necessarily Bad Wine

By Chad Upton | Editor

Some people subscribe to the idea that “no wine is bad wine,” and while I agree with the sentiment, I disagree with the statement. Thankfully, bad wine is easy to avoid and award wining wine can be cheap too, especially if it’s in a box.

If you’re not familiar with boxed wine, it consists of a plastic membrane (full of wine) with a spout for dispensing. The “bag” is placed in a cardboard box so it stays vertical for proper dispensing; this also gives it a smaller footprint on the shelf or in the fridge.

This is a near perfect container for wine. Since wine spoils with exposure to air, the self collapsing nature of this package preserves the wine much longer and more conveniently than a glass bottle and a typical air sucking accessory.

Although boxed wine should be popular with those who drink a lot of wine, it’s also ideal for those who don’t because it lasts for weeks after opening.

I admit, there is some romance to a glass bottle, but boxed wine is a practical solution for every day drinking. Every-day-drinking sounds bad, but I hope you know what I mean, frequent drinking. Actually, that sounds worse. Drinking heavily every night. OK, now I’m just having fun with you.

The point is: if you’re shy of boxed wine, you shouldn’t be. There are a number of brands worth considering and although you may not have heard of them, they all appeared on almost every “Best Boxed Wine” list I could find.

They are:

  • From the Tank
  • Three Thieves
  • Black Box
  • Bota Box

Decent boxed wine can be had for as little as $12. Some of these wines have ratings of 90+ points from popular wine reviews — an excellent rating, especially considering the price. Because a 3L box is equivalent to 4 bottles of wine, even a $30 box would be a bargain for good wine.

Although Kristen and I don’t drink a lot of wine, we have a tradition: Wine in a Box Wednesday (WIBW)! For us, it’s like a mid-week TGIF. No matter how busy our week is, we always take time to enjoy a glass of wine.

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PS – Thanks to Mike and Christina for re-introducing us to boxed wine!

Sources: Slate, NY TimesEpicurious, Oprah? Yes, Oprah. :)

February 16, 2011 at 1:20 am 5 comments

The Most Popular Types of Liquor

If you’re throwing a party or just having some friends over, you may want to have the basics in your home bar.

A good place to start is with the most popular types of liquor.

At a real bar, there is often a stock of liquor at waist height below the bar with the most commonly commonly requested liquors. This is called the “speed rail” and it is normally stocked with:

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Rum (light)
  • Tequila

Many popular drinks can be made with these liquors but bars frequently stock these other popular liquors in the speed rail too:

  • Scotch (Whiskey)
  • Bourbon (Whiskey)
  • Triple Sec
  • Vermouth

Here’s a secret if you’re short on space or cash, or if you run out of Triple Sec. Triple Sec is an orange flavored liquor, so you can substitute other popular orange flavored liquors like: Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Curaçao. When it comes to selecting whiskey, click here to read more about Whiskey.

If you want to go all out with your bar, pick up some of the following and none of your guests will be unsatisfied:

  • Irish Whiskey
  • Canadian Whiskey
  • Tennessee Whiskey
  • Dark Rum
  • Brandy
  • Baileys
  • Agostura bitters

You’ll also want to stock popular tonics and mixers such as: Coke, ginger ale, club soda and cranberry juice. By the way, the Tanqueray Gin bottle was designed to look like a London fire hydrant.

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Photos: Jeff Simms (cc), Megan Morris (cc)

Sources: Orange Liqueurs, Hub Pages, Totally Free Bartending, Crunkish

November 29, 2010 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Jagermeister Does Not Contain Deer Blood

By Chad Upton | Editor

The word “Jägermeister” was first used in 1934 as the name for senior gamekeepers in the German civil service.

In English, Jägermeister translates to “hunt-master,” but most people know it better as a bitter sweet liqueur.

It was developed by Curt Mast in 1935 as an after meal digestif (to aid digestion). It’s named after the German hunt master and carries a stag on the front of the bottle because the inventor was an avid hunter. The glowing cross above the deer’s head pays homage to the patron saints of hunters, Saint Hubertus (Hubert) and Saint Eustace.

A common rumor is that Jagermeister contains deer or elk blood, although that has been debunked.

There are also rumors that it was originally used as a cough syrup. Although it might taste like it, Jägermeister was not marketed as a cough syrup, but it was introduced during the era of patent medicines and it is and has always been a digestif — a liqueur made from bitter herbs, believed to aid digestion.

Despite the fact that it was not designed to be medicine, alcohol was often used as a medicine in those times, even given to babies and young children. Frankly, that hasn’t changed all that much, the cough syrup Nyquil still contains alcohol.

Often referred to as “Jager” it is commonly mixed with RedBull to create a “Jager Bomb” (or “Jager Blaster” in some places).

Jägermeister is 35% alcohol by volume (70 proof). It contains 56 herbs, roots, fruits and a variety of spices including: anise, saffron, citrus peel, licorice, ginger, ginseng, juniper berries and even poppy seeds. These ingredients are pressed and steeped in a water/alcohol mixture for a few days before being filtered. Then it gets similar treatment to fine wines — it is aged in Oak barrels to further enhance the flavor (for about a year).

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Photo: Ehsan Roudiani (cc)

Sources: The Bitter Truth, Everyday Drinkers, Snopes, Wikipedia (Jägermeister),

October 15, 2010 at 3:00 am 8 comments

Drinking and Driving is Legal in Mississippi

By Chad Upton

Ever since I can remember, “Don’t Drink and Drive” has been drilled into my head.

But, the range of acceptable blood alcohol content varies from 0.01% in Albania, Guyana and a few other countries, to 0.08% in Canada, Ireland, Italy, United Kingdom, United States and many others.

It’s obviously dangerous to be drunk while driving. But, it’s arguable when alcohol consumption becomes dangerous.

Some countries have lower limits for drivers who are new or have other special circumstances and more strict penalties for blood alcohol readings at other levels above the legal limit. In some cases: state and provincial laws are more strict than federal laws or county and city laws are more strict than state and provincial laws.

Countries, such as Brazil and the Czech Republic, have a zero tolerance policy for blood alcohol content. In those countries, and a few others, you cannot have alcohol in your bloodstream when you drive.  Other countries, permit up to 0.08% blood alcohol content.

I couldn’t find a country with more internal disagreement than the United States. In most states, it is illegal to have a blood alcohol level higher than 0.08%. The rules are even more strict for drivers under the age of 21. In most states, you can’t have open containers in the passenger compartment of a vehicle — that is a container where the seal has been broken.

Conversely, there are a number of states where passengers are allowed to consume alcohol while the vehicle is moving. These states are Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia, and West Virginia. Actually, Mississippi allows drivers to consume alcohol as long as they do not exceed the blood alcohol limit of 0.08%.

States that do not conform to federal open container laws are financially penalized. But, that doesn’t stop them, in fact, drive thru restaurants in some states serve alcoholic beverages too.

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Sources: Wikipedia (US Open Container Laws, Drunk Driving by Country), Open Container Laws, The Monitor, State Line

Relevant:

An alcohol abuse program makes use of various methods, all designed to help an alcohol abuser get the all that drinking off his system.

July 28, 2010 at 5:00 am 2 comments

Alcohol Does Not Completely Burn Off in Cooking

By Chad Upton

Whether you marinade steaks in beer or use Vanilla extract in your baking, you’re probably left with more alcohol in your food than you realize.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can infuse wonderful flavors. And yes, Vanilla extract has alcohol in it. Actually, it’s mandated by law in the US.

In many cultures, alcohol and food go hand in hand. Fancy wine bars pair meals or selected cheese and chocolate with wine.

Before modern cough medicines, Doctors prescribed a tablespoon of brandy to calm children’s coughs. Even some existing cough medicines, such as NyQuil, contain alcohol (except the childrens remedy). Monks have been known to brew and drink beer since the middle ages.

The USDA’s Nutrition Data Lab used gas-liquid chromatography to determine how much alcohol remained in food after various cooking scenarios.

Cooking Method Alcohol Remaining
Flambé 75%
Left Overnight (no heat) 70%
baked 25 mins (alcohol not stirred in) 45%
baked 15 mins (alcohol stirred in) 40%
baked 30 mins (alcohol stirred in) 35%
baked 60 mins (alcohol stirred in) 25%
baked 90 mins (alcohol stirred in) 20%
baked 120 mins (alcohol stirred in) 10%
baked 150 mins (alcohol stirred in) 5%

Even after 2.5 hours, 5% of the alcohol remains. I don’t think it’s anything to be too alarmed about. Grandma’s have been serving cookies laced with Vanilla extract to children for many years and most of us turned out just fine. That said, it’s still pretty surprising.

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Sources: Wikipedia, O Chef , Trappist Beer, NyQuil

Photo: 5volt (cc)

July 26, 2010 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Altitude Does Not Increase the Effect of Alcohol

By Chad Upton | Editor

Whether you’re in a plane, at the top of a ski hill or reading this in the mile high city, your body will metabolize alcohol exactly the same in all cases.

It is a common myth that you get drunk at high altitude much faster than at lower altitudes. In fact, I set out to research why this is the case, only to find out it’s not the truth.

As you can probably imagine, they didn’t have any trouble finding volunteers to help them get to the bottom of this — it has been studied and studied and studied and studied (PDF).

Even without alcohol, high altitudes can induce high-altitude sickness, which happens because there is less oxygen in the air. Because the symptoms are much the same as a hangover (headache, nausea, vomiting…etc), the effects of alcohol are often confused with high-altitude sickness. In fact, there is a study that shows Alcohol can impede the initial stages of adapting to high altitude; therefore, it is recommended that people do not drink for the first couple days while their body acclimatizes to the lower oxygen levels of high altitudes.

A study with alpine skiers in Austria tested blood-alcohol content at sea-level and at 10,000 feet. After drinking a liter of beer, their blood-alcohol levels were the same regardless of altitude.

An FAA study (PDF) found that both alcohol and altitude affect pilot performance, but there was no interaction between the two. Altitude does affect your ability to perform tasks, but that effect is present with or without alcohol. Another US government funded study found the same thing, concluding, “there was no synergistic interactive effect of alcohol and altitude on either breathalyzer readings or performance scores.”

From my observations, college loans are another popular way to get government money to study the effects of alcohol.

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Sources: Pub Med, High Altitude, Annals, FAA (PDF), AHA

Photo: evilmidori (cc)

Relevant:

Professionals should always supervise detox from alcohol and other drugs to prevent any untoward medical mishaps.

May 19, 2010 at 5:00 am 8 comments

Pure Vanilla Extract is 35% Alcohol

I made vanilla crème brulée a few weeks ago and I used a lot of pure vanilla extract, almost twice the amount the recipe suggested. I did a Grand Marnier flambé on top and although it tasted great, the best part was the excuse to buy a blowtorch.

Now, when you buy something labeled “pure”, you expect it to match the definition of pure, “unmodified by an admixture; simple or homogeneous.” But, that’s not what you get with pure vanilla extract.

In the United States, the FDA requires Pure Vanilla Extract to contain alcohol if it’s going to be called “pure.” Specifically, it must contain at least 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of vanilla bean per gallon.

It turns out this is not a rip off, alcohol actually helps extract the flavor from the vanilla beans. Not only that, vanilla extract gets better with age, maturing in about 2 years.

Alcohol free versions are available, but will not be labeled as “pure.”

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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Sources: dictionary.com, wikipedia, FDA, Arizona Vanilla

Photo: Jocelyn | McAuliflower (cc)

April 23, 2010 at 12:01 am Leave a comment

How to Clean an LCD Screen

Between televisions and computer screens, most readers likely have at least one LCD screen to clean. It’s really important to know how to clean one, but maybe even more important is how NOT to clean one.

DO NOT use the following:

  • Paper products
  • Glass cleaner
  • Tap Water

The first suggestion I would make is to check your manual for exact cleaning instructions. In many cases, they will recommend their own expensive cleaning solution (more on the contents of that later) but they may also warn about using alcohol or some other cleaners.

Your computer screen will probably get much dirtier than your TV screen, since you cough and sneeze very close to it. Not to mention, whenever somebody else points to something on your screen it is traditional to leave a finger print — that is so you remember exactly where they were pointing until you clean it off during your Friday afternoon time wasting routine. (more…)

March 29, 2010 at 12:51 am 7 comments

Listerine Was Once Sold as Floor Cleaner

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you haven’t noticed, the popularity of hand sanitizer has exploded. It’s in our desks, cars, purses and homes. I have seen dispensers at subway stops, hospitals, airports and restaurants. We are obviously obsessed with killing germs and fighting viruses.

With H1N1, Mad Cow, SARS and others, you can’t blame us for being careful. It seems like hand sanitizer came out of nowhere, but it’s not new, and neither is the principle.

The first time I saw hand sanitizer was in 1995. I worked at a restaurant and we were told to use it hourly. At the time, it seemed like a magical potion. I thought the concept was weird: I wasn’t washing anything off my hands, I was rubbing it in.

The truth is, hand sanitizer is more effective at killing bacteria than soap and water. That said, soap and water is far more effective at removing visible dirt.

For the most part, hand sanitizers use a variety of alcohols as their active ingredient. To be effective at reducing bacteria, they should contain at least 60% alcohol, and most contain 60% to 85%.  A few brands (worth avoiding) contain as little as 40% alcohol and some hospital solutions have as much as 95%.

So, where did this idea start?

It began in 1867 with a British surgeon, Joseph Lister. He published a series of articles in the British Medical Journal stating that surgery patients had less tissue infection if the incisions and surgical instruments were treated with carbolic acid prior to surgery.

At the time, they didn’t wash their hands or anything else before surgery. They thought gangrene wounds were caused by stinky air. Seriously. The same stinky air they blamed for cholera, black death and bubonic plague. They later realized the stinky air was actually the result of rotting wounds, not the cause.

His work lead to the germ theory of disease. It was the equivalent of suggesting the Earth was round, when everyone else thought it was flat. Fortunately, it was very easy to demonstrate the success of his theory and it became widely accepted.

In 1879, Listerine was named after him. It was originally developed as a surgical antiseptic, but that’s a pretty small market. To increase sales, they began marketing it as a floor cleaner and a cure for gonorrhea. That brought company revenues to about $115k, but marketers had another idea in the 1920s.

In this era of patent medicines, there were products to cure every known illness. The Listerine folks weren’t going to let this bandwagon pass by. All they needed was the perfect illness, something that everyone had and Listerine could cure; so, they made up the term, “chronic halitosis” (bad breath).

You see, bad breath hadn’t been invented yet. At that time, bad breath was just known as “breath.” Their best effort was an ad campaign that suggested young people would never find marriage with a condition such as bad breath. Over 7 years, revenues skyrocketed to $8 million.

Listerine is still sold as an antiseptic today, and primarily marketed for oral health. Depending on the flavor, it contains 21.6% to 26.9% alcohol.

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Sources: WP Hand Sanitizer, WP Lister, WP Listerine

January 15, 2010 at 12:56 am 4 comments

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