Tales 2012 – Exploring the Bar World Myths

Here´s a seminar exploring the bar world myths – what is true and what is not? it was a seminar with some interesting experiments.


Does that two-year-old bottle of vermouth really ruin a martini? Does it truly make a difference if you use sour mix rather than fresh limes in your margarita? There’s no shortage of “common knowledge” circulating throughout the cocktail world.

But how true are these beliefs? Join cocktail writers Wayne Curtis and David Wondrich as they put to the test several common myths that underlie cocktail making. The audience will be dragooned into a blind taste test to help sort of fact from fiction. Be conscripted into the sodden Army of Truth!

That´s how the description writes…well – the first thing we did was the vermouth test. We were served 2 manhattans – one containing vermouth that was opened 6 months ago and left in a warm room with the cap half on – and one with vermouth that was all fresh. Then we voted how many preferred drink number one or drink number two without knowing which one was what.

Of course the one containing the fresh vermouth tasted way better than the other one which tasted sour and sort of off…but not everyone in the room voted for the fresh one though…even though the majority did…..here´s for some vermouth education of the palates…..

Next thing up to explore was the dry shake, is it bullshit or not?

Well…the conclusion is that with dry shake – shake without ice to let egg white emulsify better and then again with ice – is better.


– It gives a higher head of foam.

– The ingredients gets better mixed because they get more integrated.

– Eggs that are cracked before service and not all fresh develops a “wet-dog” smell in the drink, so crack one egg at a time directly before shaking the drink.

Several tests were made and the conclusion is that dry shake is the best for those drinks requiring it.

Next up – Does ice size matters when it comes to aeriation in mixed drinks?

The conclusion is:

–  When you shake a drink you chill not only the drink but also the ice cubes, bigger ice cubes gives a bigger “head”

Fresh versus 2 day old lime juice – Margaritas were served containing fresh versus not fresh lime juice (2 days old) in a blind tasting and here again…believe it or not but not everyone in the room voted for the fresh one….education education…we got to educate the palates! that´s one reason it´s good to go to the Tales – you learn a lot of things from new beginner´s to advanced, there´s something for all.

To me it´s common sense to always use fresh ingredients when possible because they always taste better…

Gunpowder rum

And here´s another about sailors and how they used to drink crazy things. The supposed tradition among British sailors was to make a gun powder test – that was to to determine whether or not their daily tot had been watered down by the purser.

It was widely assumed that the pursers took a portion of official rum supplies for personal use, and topped up the casks with water. It was believed that liquor containing more than 50 % ABV would cause the powder to flare while less wouldn’t combust.

If it did flare, the liquor was “proved” – that`s where the term proof  originates. And if it didn’t, the purser had apparenty been watering it down.

Now it´s believed that there existed a wide maritime tradition of mixing gunpowder with liqueur and here´s where the myth about Blackbird comes into the picture.

Edward “Blackbeard” Teach was a pirate known for mixing gunpowder with rum and drinking it while set on fire at the taverns to impress the others – and question here was can you drink that? so gunpowder was set alight and mixed with rum and served in the room..


So apparently you can drink rum with freshly lit gunpowder in it….i did:-) it tasted um…like cannon-rum…


And last the most interesting part of this seminar – Exploring the secret of the Ramos gin fizz.

The main secret to a good Ramos gin fizz was all the shakes using airtight shakers and shake until not a bubble was left and you got a snow white drink with a consistency of milk.

An old style Ramos shake was performed…with 10 bartenders from the audience lining up beside each other to let the shaker go from one shaker to the next during exact ten minutes. At the same time another gin fizz was shaken in a shaker machine…the goal was to see if there was any difference.

So they shook and shook and the machine went on shaking too…i expected the hand shaken Ramos gin fizz to be the better one…but it turned out that both were quite equally good…surpise surprise…:-)

That was the last of the seminars…next post will talk a little about some of the tastings and other events during Tales that i went to.