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T h e S c i e n c e a n d T h e a r T 6 A customer at a table at Death & Co. orders a Martini through the waitress, who brings it to Alex, tonight’s bartender. “Did he say how he wanted it?” he asks her. She shakes her head. Alex nods to himself and starts making it. He takes out the bottles of Plymouth gin and Dolin dry vermouth, measures out two ounces of the former and one of the latter and pours them into a mixing glass, puts in the ice, and stirs it with his free hand behind his back for over a minute , glancing down at it past the end of his nose. When he finishes he strains out the drink, peels and adds a twist, and places the coupe on the waitress’s tray. Since Martinis can be made in a variety of ways (with gin or vodka, with varying ratios of spirit to vermouth, shaken or stirred, up or on the rocks, with an olive or with a twist—or with a pickled onion, to make a related drink, a Gibson), I ask Alex if they make Martinis the same way every time. “Yes, we always make it the same way when it goes out on the floor. You have to stand behind the version of the drinks that you [the bar] make, because they are the best. But an order at the bar always leads to a conversation, because there are so many ways to make a Martini and everyone has their own preference. We can’t do that at the tables, unless they specify with the waitress.” One Thursday in the early afternoon I assist Liam as he distills. First we have to transfer the mash to the still upstairs. I take the cloth top off one of the fermenters and give it a stir with large plastic paddle. It bubbles a little. “It’s probably still fermenting, which explains that CO2 ,” says Liam. “But it’s been in there for a week, so it’s just about done.” He measures the brix, or the suspended solids in the liquid, which is a test for sugar levels, and then we hook up a pump to the tank that runs upstairs to the still. We transfer two hundred gallons into it, which will distill ‹ 160 › C h a p t e r 6 down to thirty to thirty-five gallons of spirit. Liam and the distillers transfer fermented mash into the first still twice per day, once in the morning and then again around now (mid-day). After a first run, the spirit goes through a second, rectifying run in the other still. We’re making Corn Whiskey today, and this morning’s first run is going through its second distillation. It slowly drains into a thirty-gallon stainless steel drum. Liam then does what he calls an “intermediate cut.” Or he wants to see if he likes it after a gallon or so. If he does, then it goes back in the drum. If not, he’ll start the tails. He takes two small glass snifters and fills them with a bit of the draining liquid. He hands one to me, and we smell and sip. “It’s a strong alcohol taste,” I remark. “I agree. That [taste] should be prominent. It also tastes like wet clothes. We’ll cut the tails fairly soon, which is the difference between U.S. whiskeys and scotches, because scotches are aged longer, so they cut deeper into the tails. The tails can be rough, but aging smoothes them out. Since U.S. whiskeys are generally not aged as long, we cut the tails sooner, and then run them along with the heads through the still again.” A bit later Liam says, “See, the liquid coming out now is cloudier and milkier instead of clear as it was before. The cloudiness is caused by fatty acids and oils and is very rich. It lets you know that you are at the end of it.” “You guys probably don’t like it when people show you photos,” a client says to Miles after sitting in his chair. Barbers get this question often. For some reason clients think barbers don’t like referring to pictures, perhaps thinking they’re unhelpful or a form of cheating. Not true. Barbers love seeing photos. “Pictures are the best explanation ,” says Ruben, since clients often cannot clearly...


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Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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