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  • Boot
    G day gang. I receive the digest but don t read it (will get back to into it one day), but thought you might be interested in this article from the London
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 3, 2008
      G'day gang. I receive the digest but don't read it (will get back to
      into it one day), but thought you might be interested in this article
      from the London Telegraph. Keep the home fires burning! Boot.


      Shaken, not stirred turns out to be the perfect recipe for healthier and
      better-tasting cocktails, writes Roger Highfield.

      James Bond prefers his vodka martinis "shaken, not stirred" but is there
      any difference? Yes, say a psychologist and chemist who like their
      science with a twist.

      To celebrate the centenary of the birth of Ian Fleming, the creator of
      the world's most famous secret agent, Professor Charles Spence and Dr
      Andrea Sella will be unveiling the secrets of 007's favourite drink and
      a range of other cocktails at a lecture tomorrow at the Cheltenham
      Science Festival in England.

      Spence is a psychologist who has worked with molecular gastronomist
      Heston Blumenthal to unravel the secrets of how we interpret taste,
      while his fellow Bond fan is a chemist at University College London.

      To these aficionados, the creation and presentation of a cocktail is a
      true science. Take the all-important issue of shaking rather than
      stirring the martini. In Canada in 1999, a group of students at the
      University of Western Ontario decided to test Bond's preference in a
      series of experiments on gin and vodka martinis. They studied the
      martini's ability to deactivate hydrogen peroxide, a substance used to
      bleach hair or disinfect scrapes and a potent source of the free
      radicals linked to ageing and disease. The detailed chemistry is not
      fully understood but martinis were much more effective than their basic
      ingredients, such as gin or vermouth, at deactivating hydrogen peroxide
      - and about twice as effective when shaken.

      In their analysis of the results, published in the /British Medical
      Journal/, the team concluded, reasonably enough, that Bond's excellent
      state of health "may be due, at least in part, to compliant bartenders".
      And Sella believes that shaken martinis are not only healthier but also
      taste better. This is due to what experts call "mouth feel". The shaken
      martini has more microscopic shards of ice, making its texture more
      pleasing. He plans to test this hypothesis at the Cheltenham Festival,
      where he is expecting no shortage of volunteers.

      So Fleming's creation obviously has impeccable judgment but some of the
      scientific subtleties of cocktails do escape him. When Bond creates a
      martini called the Vesper, named for his lover Vesper Lynd, he instructs
      the bartender to: "Shake it very well until it's ice cold."

      In fact, Sella says, cocktails are actually colder than ice thanks to
      the same phenomenon that occurs when salt is used to keep ice off roads.
      Salt does not actually "melt" the ice but creates a solution with a
      lower freezing point. The same effect occurs with sugar, of which there
      is plenty in cocktails. In the case of the Vesper it comes chiefly from
      the addition of a French aperitif, Lillet.

      Sella will demonstrate the colder-than-ice effect at the festival but
      molecular gastronomists are already exploiting it as they experiment
      with taste and temperature. At the famed El Bulli restaurant in Spain,
      chef Ferran Adria has come up with the Hot and Cold Gin Fizz: a chilled
      gin-and-lime liquid topped with a hot foam of the same.

      The effect of cocktails is not just chemical but also psychological.
      Spence explains that our perception of cocktails is affected by the
      shape of the glass. People do not enjoy drinks as much if they are
      served in a container they feel is inappropriate. Also, to maximise the
      strength of the martini, make sure it's poured into a wide glass.
      "Researchers have shown that people drink up to 88 per cent more when
      consuming drinks in short, wide glasses than in tall, narrow glasses
      that hold the same volume," he says. "Surprisingly, even experienced
      bartenders fall prey to this vertical-horizontal illusion. One study
      showed that veteran bartenders pour 26 per cent more alcohol into
      tumblers than highball glasses when measuring out a shot of spirits."

      The appearance of a drink can also affect how happy we are with it. Our
      brains make a pleasant association between the colours of ripening fruit
      and increased sugar content. "Such colours, particularly bright reds,
      are powerful visual cues," Spence says. "When incorporated into a drink,
      they can dramatically change the perceived flavour, as well as
      increasing the perceived sweetness by as much as 12 per cent."

      French researchers tested this by using an odourless dye to colour white
      wine red. The wine tasters who tried the result used typical red wine
      descriptors, suggesting that its colour played a significant role in how
      they thought of it. "In cocktails, I'll look at how the very same colour
      can lead different people to think of, and therefore taste, very
      different flavours," Spence says. He also cites studies suggesting music
      can affect how quickly we get through drinks: upbeat tunes in the
      background lead to more cocktails being downed.

      There are also differences in the extent to which people use their
      senses to rate drinks. About a quarter of the population are
      "supertasters", those born sensitive to bitter flavours who ignore
      visual tricks such as dyeing white wine red.

      Despite his excellent taste in shaking rather than stirring a martini,
      Bond is probably not among their number; they would be likely to taste
      the vermouth and olives as bitter and unpleasant. Instead, as with most
      of the population, his perception would more likely be dominated by his
      eyes. This neatly ties into other aspects of the Bond legend, Spence
      says, in particular his liking for the best-looking women.

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