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Rinse and Sniff

November 5, 2010

There is a downside to painkillers and muscle relaxants.  They have cut into my drinking.  I’m not nearly so self-destructive anymore that I would have a cocktail while taking serious prescription medication.  Yet another no-fun fact about getting old.

Actually, I had thought that the meds would be a lot more enjoyable on their own, but sadly they are not.  So now I’m just achy and dopey.  I guess I should just be happy that I have medical insurance and the pills cost less than a fast food value meal (out of pocket).

But I had planned to do a cocktail post today, and dammit even if I can’t drink I can at least write about drinking.  

Last week Mrs. Fussy and I were hanging out in the kitchen making cocktails.  It’s likely I made her a Manhattan.  I was making myself a Sazerac.  Now some may argue that it wasn’t really a Sazerac.  In the past I have called it my unfussy Sazerac.  My thought is that it is okay to bend the rules as long as you know you are engaged in such a shameful activity.

Except this time I did something a little bit different.  And it turned something that I thought was a meaningless affectation into something truly remarkable.

I followed one of the original instructions: rinse the inside of the glass with absinthe.

Professional bartenders can do this much more quickly and elegantly than me.  But the essence of rinsing a glass with a spirit is to pour a spoonful of booze and turn the glass in your hands, so that every interior surface of the glass has been covered with a thin film of the stuff.  The excess is dumped out, or if you are inelegant like me, you could simply drink it.

This has a similar effect as swirling wine in a glass.  By increasing the surface area of the booze, you have hastened its evaporation.  That means all the volatile aromas should start leaping from the glass and into your nose, adding their perfume to the entire drink.

That’s the theory, at least.

The thing is that liquid is slippery stuff.  And it doesn’t quite cling to the interior of the glass, as much as one might hope.  It’s also possible I’ve been doing it wrong, or working too slowly, or using inferior ingredients.  But rinsing my glasses with spirits never wowed me.

That is, until recently.  I decided to rinse the glass of my unfussy Sazerac with Delaware Phoenix’s Meadows of Love absinthe.


For the very first time, I actually really got it.  I truly understood the power of this technique.  Clearly it is helpful that the MOL is an aromatic powerhouse.  It also helps that I’ve been to the distillery and smelled all the botanicals before they were distilled and infused into the spirit.

But standing there in my kitchen with this cocktail, I felt like I was back at the distillery.

Maybe it has something to do with all the aromatic oils that are suspended in the absinthe and their ability to cling to glass.  Maybe rinsing a glass with the lesser Herbsaint is just doomed to fail.

Honestly, I don’t know.  But I am looking forward to a bit more experimentation with a few different spirits.  For example, I wouldn’t necessarily want to make a rusty nail with Highland Park single malt Scotch Whisky, but maybe rinsing the glass would lend the drink some of that spirit’s rich smokiness.

The winters here in Albany are long.  One needs to find some good indoor activities.  I think I may have found mine.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2010 2:19 pm

    Hi Dan. I remember reading about Cheryl Lins and her absinthe in the NY Times last year. Do you know if there is a liquor store in the Capital District that sells Lins’s absinthe?

  2. November 5, 2010 6:36 pm

    Hopefully, that absinthe helped you feel a little better too — if not, at least, know you out.

    Have you tried the spin the glass into the air technique to do the coating? Every time I’ve tried it, I’ve failed miserably and found myself the owner of one less glass.

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