Tales of the Cocktail, just concluded down in New Orleans, was a 5-day festival celebrating Mixology, Bartending, and all things Booze. I just gotta schedule myself for this event in 2011. Colleen Rush of New Orleans.com called it a "Summer Camp for High-End Barflies." Here is some of the science dropped at this year's cocktail-filled convention.
* To prevent your olfactory palate from being overwhelmed by alcohol, leave your lips open when whiffing spirits. Keep your lips closed when sniffing beer and wine.
* “Dry shake” egg whites in a shaker without ice before shaking with ice to make the strongest, most stable egg foam for drinks like a flip or Pisco Sour.
* Immerse cut citrus in cold water spiked with Vitamin C powder to prevent browning.
* The minty freshness of mint comes from microscopic hairs on the leaf, not the leaf itself. Gently rub or press the leaves when muddling for mojitos or juleps. Crushing or tearing the leaf releases too much “green” flavor.
* Stir, instead of shake, to keep an all-spirit cocktail like a martini or Negroni from getting over-diluted with ice. Drinks with juices, liquers and other mixers should be shaken, not stirred.
* Whirl ice in a salad spinner to shake off excess water. This prevents overdilution.
* The back of your tongue is most sensitive to bitter tastes. It’s an evolutionary adaptation to detect poisonous plants, which are often bitter.
* Your nostrils alternate in sensitivity every 3 to 4 hours.
* And my favorite nugget of wisdom of all, from spirits writer David Wondrich, author of the upcoming Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl: “A dry gin martini is the shortest distance between two points.”