Mixing cocktails can be something of an art. Having connoisseur-level information on cocktails can be quite an asset; at the very least, it”s a great conversation starter at parties.
The calorie conscious tend to be diligent about plotting their daily allotments. (Let”s just say that the peanuts and hors d”oeuvres are the real culprits, but the drinks get the blame for weakening a dieter”s resolve.) This chart gives an estimate of calories per ounce of each class of drink. Remember that mixers have additional calories.
|Drink||Calories per Ounce|
|Wines||22 to 24|
|Champagne||26 to 28|
|Beer||10 to 16|
|Liqueurs||85 to 105|
|Spirits||65 to 74|
Shaken or Stirred?
Can you really “bruise ” a spirit? James Bond asks for his vodka martini “shaken, not stirred. ” Was he onto something, or merely taking a poke at gullible moviegoers?
Let”s start with the facts. You cannot “bruise ” a spirit by shaking it. This myth is most commonly applied to gin, but it”s really a meaningless phrase. Shaking and stirring can, at best, affect the liquor”s exposure to the ice.
Shaking increases exposure to the ice, thus chilling the drink more quickly. Stirring, on the other hand, is not as vigorous and is therefore unlikely to achieve the same cold temperature. In addition, the melted ice tends to dilute the drink, depending on how long it has been shaken or stirred with ice. What Bond was asking for, then, is a cold martini undiluted with melting ice.
On the other hand, shaking can compromise the crystalline clarity that makes a martini look so clean, crisp and sophisticated. The shaking motion inundates the cocktail with many tiny bubbles, often producing undesirable cloudiness. Would the stylish and sophisticated 007 risk getting a cloudy vodka martini? The debate rages on.
The Cocktail Umbrella Controversy
The everyday umbrella was first used thousands of years BC, protecting high-ranking holy men and other public figures from the sun in the hot climates of Egypt, the Middle East, India, and China. Indeed, the word “umbrella ” means shaded area. The idea spread to Europe via Greece and again the umbrella became associated with class and social status, with the clergy and upper classes using them conspicuously. By the nineteenth century they had been accepted as a normal item for everyday people in the cities of Northern Europe. More recently, umbrellas are found in every home in rain-threatened countries and have been featured in films like Mary Poppins, and even used in political assassinations (the Bulgarian Secret Service”s 1978 murder of dissident Georgi Markov in London used a poisoned umbrella).
So why use cocktail umbrellas? We must go back to the original use for umbrellas, to protect from the sun”s rays and heat. A cocktail will lose more than just its perfect cold temperature by sitting in the sun. Melting ice rapidly dilutes flavor and color to leave an insipid and altogether disappointing drink. Sheltering your cocktail from the sunshine suddenly doesn”t seem like such a bad idea.
Having said that cocktail umbrellas can be useful, some reservations remain. The cocktail umbrella has a reputation for being a sign of frivolity and general bad taste. This is a matter of opinion, of course, and one can argue that a tropical cocktail with an umbrella invokes more memories or images of sun-drenched destinations than a plain one. Recognizing that the appearance is an absolutely vital element of the art and culture of making cocktails, the cocktail umbrella seems set to remain an institution in many cocktail drinking circles for a long time to come.