The Results are in! (plus site re-theme)

January 7th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

Simple Syrup Science has completed. The results are in! Noel was kind enough to be the last test subject for this round.

To summarize, I produced two 2:1 simple syrups. One was created by nothing more than shaking in a mason jar, the other was heated to boil, then removed from heat.
A tale of two syrups
I did a double blind test, 2 samples of each syrup type in random order.
Less talk, more science.

The main result is that while there is a perceptible difference, but not in the flavor. 66% of the test subjects could not taste a flavor difference. 66 % of the test subjects were able to tell one syrup from the other, but were wrong on which was which. What is the difference?

Viscosity. The hot method syrup was thicker than the cold method. One of the test subjects believed the thickness of the syrup affected the physicality of tasting, and so thought the hot-method syrup was less sweet than the cold-method. Results are a bit inconclusive, so I’d love to see this experiment repeated.

The next test will be tasting difference in falernum: Initial non-scientific non-blind tastings showed no difference between the two syrups in the falernum. I plan to test using the syrups in a cocktail as well.
Battle of the Falernums

But the take home? Don’t waste your time shaking the sugar (unless you are after a thinner mouth-feel for your syrup).

Also, I finished my initial design for the site. If you’ve never been there and only viewed via RSS feed, take a look and tell me what you think. If you’ve been to the site before, you may have to refresh your cache by force-reloading the page.

Cheers!

-=C

Post Holiday Humdrums

December 31st, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

It’s so hard to be back at a day job after holiday festivities.

The simple syrup project already has some results: The hot and cold process syrups have been created. The volume and hue turned out exactly the same, no need for adjusting. Last night Heather and I blind tasted them and recorded our results. I’m not going to report just yet, as we have a few more local tasters who will be testing; I wouldn’t want to skew their results with any early reports.

The Holiday was lovely, with much drinking and mixing going on. There were Tom & Jerrys, Navy Grogs, 3 Dots & a Dashes, Nui Nuis, Corspe Revivers #2, Manhattans, Mah Jonngs, Cesar Rum Punches, Flippin’ Flips, and plenty of highballs to go around. I also treated our merry gathering with 2 growlers of Bridgeport’s Ebeneezer Ale, hand-pulled and cask conditioned.

We were also productive with tinctures and infusions: We made a Creme de Menthe with our house-grown peppermint, Falernum and Pimento Dram, Pomegranate Liqueur, & my most anticipated — Orange Curaçao.

Blair was nice enough to bring over some of his home-made goodies: Rum Shrub, Orgeat, Ginger Beer, Cola Tonic & Taboo Liqueur.

Cigars were smoked, video games played (guitars make heroes), merriment and good cheer abounded.

Sure makes being here now that much worse in contrast. Ah, but tonight shall see more celebration.

Happy New Year everybody!

Science! Draft experiment plan for simple syrup production

December 19th, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

Does heat change the flavor of a simple syrup? Or, is there a difference or preference between cold-process and hot-process simple syrup?

I’d expect heat to alter the flavor of complex ingredients like fruit juice (another experiment perhaps). That is, I would not make grenadine by heating my pomegranate juice, I add simple to concentrated juice (which hopefully was concentrated through evaporation). But does heat significantly change the flavor of the base syrup? It is my hypothesis that the method has no significance to the flavor of the product. Below is the draft of my experiment plan. Please comment and criticize. My goal is to produce an experiment that my be reproduced for any peer analysis that others may wish to take part in.

Experiment setup:

Cold process: 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water are added to a mason jar. Lid is applied and mason jar is occasionally agitated until sugar completely dissolves. If any solids are left after 24 hours, they are filtered out, dried and measured. Volume is measured.

Hot process: 2 cups of sugar (minus mass equal to any undissolved solute of cold process) and 1 cup of water is added to saucepan. Mixture is brought to gentle boil and removed from heat. Mixture is cooled to room temperature and volume is measured. Enough water is added to equal volume of Cold process (to replace water lost through boiling).

Person alpha transfers mixtures into jars, marks them with ‘A’ and ‘B’ and places into refrigerator. Only person alpha knows the identities of ‘A’ and ‘B’.

Experiment Execution:

Person beta removes mixtures from refrigerator after 24 hours and secretly dispences into shot glasses/cups labeled 1,2,3 and 4. 2 cups will contain mixture ‘A’ and 2 will contain mixture “B.” Only person beta knows which mixture is in each numbered cup/glass. This is done for as many test subjects that will be taking part.

Test subjects record experiences and try to match sets (i.e. 1&3, 2&4 — I preferred 1&3, the mouth feel was better).

Test recordings are collected by person beta and correlated to ‘A’ and ‘B’. Person alpha reveals identities of cold and heat-processed syrups.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … Drinks.

November 28th, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

Ho, Ho Ho! The Snowball is showing up everywhere you go!

Trader Tiki stopped by a few weeks ago and we plowed our way through 2 Christmas bowl drinks, so the Christmas Cocktail Project continues:

English Bishop

English Bishop

2 oranges
Whole Cloves
2 Ceylon Cinnamon Sticks
Brown Sugar
375ml Coruba or other Dark rum
32 oz Unfiltered Apple Juice Nutmeg

P1000106Pierce Oranges with toothpick and insert cloves. Wet oranges and roll in brown sugar to coat. Place oranges in baking dish and roast in a 350° oven until they brown slightly. In a saucepan, add cinnamon sticks (broken) to dark rum and warm. Remove oranges, cut into wedges and add to heat-safe ceramic bowl (large enough for 1 gallon of liquid). Add ½ cup Brown sugar and muddle together with oranges. When Rum begins to vaporize, add rum and cinnamon to orange-sugar mixture. Take the bowl to a fire-safe location and set on fire. At your discretion, put out the fire by pouring in the apple cider. Serve warm in footed glass mugs, dust top with fresh grated nutmeg.

Blair spurred me to make this recipe. I cobbled it together from Jerry Thomas’s book and other online sources. The Smell of this one was amazing: The quick-made Pomanders roasting in the oven produced a gorgeous scent that filled the whole house with Christmas. Setting it on fire was a blast as well.

Feuerzangebowle

Feuerzangenbowle

1 Orange
1 Lemon
1 Bottle Red Table Wine
10 Whole Cloves
10 Allspice Berries
5 Cardamom Pods
2 Ceylon Cinnamon Sticks
375ml Coruba or other Dark Rum
1 Sugar Hat (Zukerhut)

FeuerzangebowleUsing a Channel knife, zest/carve orange and lime into Crockpot on low. Cut Orange and Lemon in wedges and add to pot. Add wine and spices. Let this mixture mull for at least 30 minutes. Before serving, warm rum in saucepan. place tongs on bowl and set sugar hat on tongs. Soak sugar hat with warmed rum and set alight. With a long-handled metal ladle (in a fire-safe location), pour remaining rum over burning sugar to melt into bowl. When the rum and sugar have been added to the bowl, put out the fire and stir. Serve warm in glass footed mugs.

Feuerzangebowle will feature prominently around our annual Christmas Party, which is themed on the peculiar Germanic Christmas icon “Der Krampus.” It’s called “Gruss vom Krampus” and this is the fourth annual celebration. If you’re in the Portland area the weekend of December 7-9th, drop me a line and I’ll shoot you an evite.

-=C

Cassia vs. Cinnamon and Donn the Beachcomber

November 6th, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

At some point, in North America (at least the U.S.A. and Canada), Cinnamon was replaced by its much less expensive cousin, Cassia. The taste, while similar enough for many uses, is definitely noninterchangeable for most cocktail recipes. The trick is to know which to use and when to use it.

Cassia
Cassia (Cinnamomum Cassia) is thick and red-brown in color and is what you’ll most likely get when you purchase cinnamon in a regular grocery store. The flavor is strong, sharp and hot. It is a perfect choice for baking or where you only want to taste only Cinnamon. However, it will quickly overpower any balanced drink when you use it in syrup (or purchase Cinnamon syrup made with Cassia).

Ceylon

Ceylon or ‘true’ Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is light brown and has the consistency of paper. It will easily give and break apart in your hand. The flavor has essences of citrus and is mellow, warm. It shines in chocolate, mulling, and especially in your mixed drinks. This is the Cinnamon you’ll want for making or purchasing syrup. You can find it cheaper in the Mexican food section of your market labeled as “Canela.” I get mine from Penzey’s.

When making the Donga Punch from Sippin’ Safari, I decided to perform an experiment. I mixed one drink using the Cassia syrup, and the other with Ceylon Cinnamon. The Cassia version tasted exceedingly of the sharp, spicy notes I love in a Cinnamon roll. The drink, however, was unbalanced. I did manage to finish it. The Donga containing Ceylon Cinnamon was properly balanced and delicious. The Ceylon supported the flavor profile, enhanced the rum, and contrasted nicely with the Grapefruit. In the other version, the grapefruit flavor was lost to the overbearing zing of Cassia.

Further experiments at Blair’s Galley with the Nui Nui bore the same results. Donn drinks seem to call for Ceylon Cinnamon, not Cassia. It makes me wonder: Did Cassia replace Cinnamon in common domestic use after the creation of these classic Tiki drinks? Did Ray Buhen and Donn’s other boys use only true Cinnamon, coming from a cuisine and culture that did not conflate the two? Bears research I say.

Not to say that Cassia has no role in drink making. I still add it (very carefully) to hot rum batter (with as much care as I would cloves, the other flavor killer in high doses), Coffee Grog (not the batter, pinch-wise while making the drink), and for light toppings of other hot drinks when I think the recipe calls for a light smack of the ‘heavy stuff.’

I’m just happy I’ve made a discovery that has improved my mixology, and I hope I pass it on to you and yours.

Cheers!

-=C