Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Martinis could be the secret of Bond's success!

My husband is a huge James Bond fan, as well as a primo geek. An article in The Telegraph piqued his interest as it combined two of his loves, Bond and science.

Apparently shaking vs stirring does make a difference to martinis.
the creation and presentation of a cocktail is a true science: "molecular mixologists" can create alcoholic alchemy, from Bond's dry martini to daiquiris and beyond.

Take the all-important issue of shaking rather than stirring the martini. In 1999, a group of students at the University of Western Ontario in Canada led by Colleen Trevithick (and overseen by her father John, a professor of biochemistry) decided to test Bond's preference in a series of experiments on gin and vodka martinis.

They studied the martinis' 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.

While the detailed chemistry is not fully understood, 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.

The martini must contain an antioxidant that deals with the peroxide, and which works better after shaking. (The olives that are normally added might also have an effect, but were left out as being "too difficult to model".)

In their analysis of the results 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 Dr Sella believes that shaken martinis are not only healthier, but also taste better. This is due to what experts call "mouthfeel" - the shaken martini has more microscopic shards of ice, making its texture more pleasing.

The anarchic homeschooling mom can now make a fun link between literature and science thanks to our scientists and Ian Flemming.
So Fleming's creation obviously has impeccable judgment - but some of the scientific subtleties of cocktails did escape him. When Bond creates a martini called "The Vesper", named for his lover, Vesper Lynd, he orders: "Shake it very well until it's ice cold."

In fact, says Dr Sella, 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 apéritif, Lillet.

Dr 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 elBulli in Spain, the legendary chef Ferrán Adrià has come up with the Hot and Cold Gin Fizz - a chilled gin-and-lime liquid topped with a hot foam of the same.


MLD said...

Did they say whether the gin martini or the vodka martini was better at breaking down free radicals?

I wonder how drunk the scientists got while experimenting. Hee! :-)

Leah said...

This is sooo good!
I love martini and now I've got an even better excuse to drink it.
Thanks Shez. :D