Exploring Bar World Myths at Tales of the Cocktail

Taste Test

I’ve never sat in a classroom-like setting in regards to cocktails before, but when David Wondrich, Dave Arnold and Wayne Curtis are “lecturing,” you better choose your battles wisely. The Thursday of Tales of the Cocktail, they explored bar world myths for those eager to learn the truths and untruths of the cocktail world.

It’s time to get geeky with some bartending bullet points:

Dry Shake? From L-R: Cold, warm
  • Do you discard vermouth after it has sat around in the refrigerator for one month?

Ultimately, there is a difference, but it’s so slight that there may as well not be. Refrigerate always (this is a must), but oxidation in vermouth isn’t really a killer. I picked the “wrong” one (or in this case, the un-fresh choice), and preferred the cocktail made with 6-week old vermouth as opposed to the just-opened one.

  • Is dry shaking BS?

No. Shaking warm ingredients without ice makes for better aeration and emulsification in cocktails – especially with egg. Warm eggs are integrated into the cocktail better than cold, and this makes for a better creamy foam top. And by the way – it’s better to keep room-temp eggs at your bar than cold ones. Cold eggs give your bar that “wet dog” smell.

  • Fresh limes are always better.

Surprisingly, the room came to a majority opinion that the cocktail with 5-hours-old lime juice was favorable to the just-squeezed lime juice. Fresh-fresh lime juice is actually too tart.

  • Big ice is always better.

We all know and love that fancy ice. But we don’t always want to shake with it, because it’s less effective than smaller cubes in regards to dilution (more surface area to liquid, and therefore melts slower). However, bigger ice makes for nicer head – should that be your aim.

  • Hangover cures:
David Wondrich making a Blue Blazer

Do eat a snack or even big meal before drinking – it slows down the absorption of alcohol into your body.

Do stick with vodka (booo). It has less congeners than other spirits.

Liquor then wine, always fine: False. It’s always the total alcohol content and the fact that your inhibitions go down as you go along – so you may just be consuming more as a result. But beer and carbonated drinks do get you drunk faster because carbonation is absorbed faster into the body.

Do drink one glass of water per drink – this will keep you hydrated.

Do engage in exercise. This makes you metabolize faster.

Do/Don’t go for the Hair of Dog (morning-after drink). It helps since it puts more ethanol into your body, but it’s obviously not a long term solution. Either you’ll have to keep drinking or never start.

Maybe. But the tests were completely inconclusive. Lesser proof liquors still lit up and higher proof liquors didn’t necessarily light up. David Wondrich demonstrated the ire of fire and liquor by putting on this red Robocop-ish face mask and making a Blue Blazer (by Jerry Thomas, the first ever mixologist) – impressive, indeed.

And there you have it: Bar myths explained and proven or debunked. Go forth with these hangover prevention tips and prove them applicable, at least. And you’ll have at least a couple things to discuss with your bartender should it prove to be a slow night.

Tales of the Cocktail

Royal Sonesta
300 Bourbon Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
504.586.0300