I‘m sure you guys are pulling out your favorite new Scotch terminology at cocktail parties, and using those distillation terms in every Saturday’s crossword, but now that we’ve covered the basics, I wanted to focus in on a certain kind of distillation—the kind that takes place in the pot still.
What’s a pot still? Why does it matter? Well, I’m glad you asked. Today we’ll chat about this distillation equipment’s origins, what it does, and how it’s used.
When you start looking through vintage cocktail books, one thing you’ll quickly notice are the names of obscure ingredients—products with names like Caperitif and Hercules. And if you’re anything like me, you’re curious about these products. What were they? What do (or did) they taste like?
My latest at Serious Eats. [Read on!]
My piece on ingredient substitutions at Serious Eats.
Here’s a … neat idea: the Neat Ice Kit, by a couple of guys out of New York City. For those who care about the clarity of ice they use in cocktails, here’s a way to make perfectly clear ice at home, without wasting any of the cloudy stuff.
See, ice normally freezes from the outside in, which forces gas into the center of the ice. That gas clouds up as it freezes. There’s not normally any way around this, unless you insulate the ice tray in some fashion. (Camper English has done A LOT on this topic, if you want to know more.)
What this kit does is insulate the sides and bottom of a brick-shaped ice mold. The ice freezes top down, forcing the gasses to the bottom, where they freeze cloudy. The top freezes clear. So you lop off the top, use it for cocktail presentation, and use the cloudy bottom for crushed ice or for shaking drinks or whatever.
(Don’t touch my cloudy bottom, though. Mrs. Bitters will have words.)
The kit, if the Kickstarter pans out, will include the mold, an ice chisel, a mallet/muddler, and a bag in which to hammer ice into crushed form.
I’m not normally all that bothered by cloudy ice at home, but even I think this is a nifty project.
By the way, these guys have a track record of successful Kickstarter products, if that matters to you. The Glif iPhone holder/tripod looks really cool to me.
From LIFE: August 15, 1938:
From the August 8, 1938, issue of LIFE magazine, this ode to the mint julep:
LICKETY SPLICKETY ZOOMBAH
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