G. Ordinneau, On the nature of the Ethers of the Brandy and on the causes that influence it’s quantity

A big thank you to Christine Eslao for getting the document from the Harvard Library.

ordinneau in french PDF

this is crude translation of a late 19th century french study of cognac. the paper was widely cited by writers like Maynard Amerine and Peter Valaer. unfortunately it is in french but i think an english version exists. my understanding is the works of the seventh international congress of applied chemistry in 1909 was translated into other languages as well (i’ve seen english and german but never of the section that contains this paper).

i don’t know how useful this translation will be because it is so poor but it will at least let people know that researchers such as Ordinneau were taking the chemistry of spirits quite seriously as far back as the 1890’s. these old works can still provide a lot of insights to the distillation renaissance that is happening.

the significance of the study was the Ordinneau showed that the acidity of the distilling material was very important to the formation of esters in cognac.  he also showed how the pace of distillation formed aroma compounds.  i think he distilled a base wine to strip much of the aroma and alcohol, then re-added a neutral alcohol then re-distilled it again. what he finds is that he produces more aroma compounds because of the increased opportunity for esterification.  i thought that esterification happened mainly through fermentation but i guess it also happens to a large degree by time spent in the still with a pot still providing the most opportunity for esterification.

On the nature of the Ethers of the water of life of
Wine and on the causes that influence the
quantity that it owns
There is a lack of specific information on the nature of the contained ethers in eau de vie of wine; also I think interesting to publish the results of research made a long time ago already on the distillation of wines of the Charentes products.
I will indicate first of all in a succinct manner the means by which I used to get these results I will provide in the suite. In 1897, I distilled about 10 hectolitres of dregs of the “Borderies” of Cognac, which provided 225 litres of phlegm or “brouillis” 15 ° which served as base for my tests. This brouillis, saturated by the carbonate of soda and distilled, provided free vi3 water of free acids, and one residue or vinasse that evaporated to dry and gave the volatile acids, sodium salts.
Living water has been processed by the soda caustic to décom­poser ethers, and then distilled. Vinasse evaporated then dry provided etherified acid soda salts.
The separation of volatile acids was made by their industries in ethyl ethers and their rectification and split with a Henninger device to six balls. Low fractions were studied specifically; CROTONIC acid was obtained crystallized and caproic acid was separated as a calcium salt.
The lactic acid that comes from the fermentation of the Malic acid in wine
the summer separated from sodium salts by drinking alcohol, which easily dissolved.
The results concerning the nature of volatile acids and their quantity, either free State or the State of ethers, in the procedure of wine, are recorded in the following table
ordinneau table
• The Lees of wine contained about 70% of wine, the rest was repré­senté by the yeast, pectic substances and the potassium bitartrate, constituting a deposit that distillation provides especially heavy ethers or oenanthique ether. The amount of this last ether is variable in the waters of life; It corresponds on average to 10 gr. per hectolitre of alcohol at 100 ° by direct measurements made on different types of eau de vie des Charentes. Assuming this amount of 10 gr. I established in a special column total ethers provided by current distil­lation wine with obtained living water.
Ethers are almost entirely as ethyl ethers; I to was assured me in a previous operation that had allowed me to remove the head of 20 hectolitres of brandies by splitting 20 gr. of formic ether and 3 kg. 400 gr. of acetic ether. The column of ethers is therefore ethy­liques ethers, acids mentioned.
We see by this painting that volatile acids in wine are the same those who combined alcohol provide the ethers. However the lactic ether is not stable there. are found in the distilled product that fast free.
Acetic ether in water studied life represents 92% of
ethers of the wine; He is accompanied by small amounts of ethers
formic and 7% approximately of oenanthique ether. other ethers
very fragrant intermediaries are found in very low quantities.
Acetic ether being more volatile than alcohol, because it boils at 73% must meet head especially during the distillation process and this is what actually takes place.
Since brandy ethers are formed by the combination with alcohol the volatile acids, their quantity is dependent on several factors according to the laws of etherification. the main are: ‑
10. The amount of volatile acids in the wine. – known for a long time that this amount is variable depending on the nature of yeast and especially the abundance of organisms or bacteria furnished by the grapes at harvest. These bacteria are abon­dantes grapes stung by wasps and birds and those with rot. Their action is slow and produces the General diseases of the wines. As soon as the complete fermentation the wines are little wealth in volatile acids and ethers, so what it is about bookbinding in the following spring, especially with wines that are not separated from their lie. The acetic acid bacteria is one that provides the most volatile acids. It is in the wines of the Charentes, which are mainly in white; on the other hand it causes in noon wine the large amount of ethers are sometimes found.
The water of life no.. 1 was prepared with a hectolitre wine clear made specially by the wort to the Khun device sterilization and fermented with a pure yeast. The distillation has been rapid.
The water of life no.. 3 was provided by a wine disorder, turned but not pitted, and load of bacteria.
The water of life no.. 4 from the Champagne region, was considered to be of poor quality in the tasting.
2′ Extended the time that lasted distillation. – heating wine, that is to say a slow distillation, éthérifie volatile acids and subsequently increases the amount of ether, and this amount, which is difficult to establish with a laboratory device, it is not when using the boiler charentais alembic.
• For example, by adding to the vinasse that remains in the still after the distillation of wine yields a quantity of neutral alcohol equal to that contained in the primitive wine a vinous alcohol loaded in ethers. An operation is made with an aircraft first jet and second provided an alcohol containing 27 gr. of ethers / HL to 100 °, while the alcohol being implemented had only 6 gr., hence gain of 21 gr. due to distillation.
A stillage distilled by brouillis after Champagne mixed with alcohol containing 5 gr. of ethers provided 44 gr. of ethers, where 39 gr. gain provided by the boiler. However, vinasse necessarily less volatile acids than the wine itself, so as such less than product distillation contains ethers than wine. We are forced to admit that during the slow distillation by brouillis charentaise method are made with certain wines
40 gr. of ethers at a minimum, ethers found in the water of life and which did not exist in the wine, or that an eau de vie made so with 120 gr. of ether comes from a wine that contained only 80 gr. maximally.
This amount of ether produced depends on the heating time, so that a slow distillation is most advantageous for their Production as a quick distillation and a simple or brouillis apparatus is greater than this point of view to a first draft with second device, and the latter greater than the device without second.
We wanted to assign to the separation of varying amounts of the head of the good heating or grinding the cause of poverty in certain waters of life of Cognac ethers. This explanation is not acceptable. It does not exist in water of life free ethers by rectification, Charentes whereas this operation does not in fact occur. A few litres withdrawn at the beginning of each heating and which are rich in acetic ether are added to the liquid to be distilled by the next operation, and always end up, whatever the importance do the amount of separate head.
Elsewhere the distillation of wine with the area methods does not residue alcoholic as the indus­trielle alcohol rectification, and in distilleries more often the latter was obtained at low title containing the mixture of the last head and the last tail remains to be added to the first barrel of the operation of the following year, so that in can admit that there is no loss of ethers during distillation.
3 ° The total acidity of the wine. – This acidity is important, because it
Bele. r 2
promotes the formation of ethers. As a result wines obtained with little ripe grapes that are distilled on their lie that contains potassium acid tartrate, are advantageous for the preparation of ethers.
It follows from these considerations that the pure waters of life less rich in ether are those which are distilled: as soon as the wine fermentation finished and are produced quickly to single unit or with the first jet with wines of Lees apparatus and from very ripe, healthy grapes.
Many ethers assays I’ve done over the last 15 years have provided me less than 100 grams per hectolitre of alcohol at 1000 only operating on waters of life from the harvest of 1894. The minimum was 92 Gr., the average has varied between 105 gr. and 120 gr. All life waters examined were obtained by slow distillation to the simple device.
The eaux de vie made with first jet machines used in secondary wines provide, from what has been said above, a lower amount of ethers, but I own point safe figures concerning these waters of life.
Be that as it may it is easy to realize as such that the presence of ethers in an an alcoholic liquid cannot be proof of the existence of real life water in this liquid, since it is possible to form ethers by neutral alcohol to the charentais alembic distillation under certain circumstances. But as it is recognized that the best eaux de vie are obtained by slow distillation to the primitive device one can conclude that for the
Cognac real low-ethers more often involves poor distillation, while elevated, if it may not indicate exceptional quality, because some waters of life of
damaged wine are responsible for ethers, it provides nonetheless completed by the tasting, which can see the source of the first matter, of nranignemants pracieux on the value of the product considered.
1. In the analysis of alcohols and spirits group of components by chemical functions: acids, ethers, aldehydes, higher alcohols, appears to be generally adopted.
2 For determination methods and their details, there is not yet agreement. The doubts are referent;
(a) for acids and ethers: choice of alkaline liquor and the flag.
(b) for aldehydes: colori­metriques and volumetric methods, and for them, the choice between processes Uayon, Jandrier Baker, and others.
(c) for the higher alcohols: separation and determination methods, process color French (Saliu-Girard). German prorede physico-chemical (Itiise-Hybiscus-Sell); English (Marquardt-Allen-Schidrowitz) oxidation process.
3. It is likely that different methods should be used for the analysis of various classes of alcohols, spirits and alcoholic beverages. For the classification, it. will be used in the first place of the tasting.
4. For the experimental study of all these excessive­ment complex issues, we propose the creation of three independent special laboratories of the national rivalries that are currently felt: one for countries where there is balance of industrial alcohol (Switzerland or Belgium); the second in one of the countries where pré­dominent the so-called natural spirits (Portugal or Romania); the third in North America.


Spirits Library

This will hopefully become the beginning of a library of rare hosted resources and an annotated bibliography for my ongoing book project.  Reading the works of Maynard Amerine got me really interested in bringing knowledge, techniques, and various ideas from the world of wine making and distilling to the bar. I eventually collected most of Amerine’s works like the Technology of Wine Making and slowly almost everything in the English language in his bibliographies.

Other prolific others dominated Amerine’s citations like Peter Valaer who ran the I.R.S. lab.  Valaer led to others like Herman Willkie and Jesoph Merory and Giovanni Fenaroli and quite a few people in between.  They covered wine making and distillation and vermouth making and even sensory science.  Since I began collecting probably seven years ago, many of the printed works have been sky rocketing in value on amazon.com.  Anyhow, I will slowly present rare digitized works in hopes they help people to better understand, create, and enjoy spirits.

Willkie, Herman, Controlling Gin Flavor (1937).

(unfortunately at the moment you will have to click through a link on another page)

Willkie and his crew at Hiram Walker were the quite the characters.  This is a must read for anybody new to making gin.  I disagree with them often when it comes to an ideal juniper aroma.  My favorite juniper expressions probably have the “high acid number” they tried to avoid.

‎”..in the tradition-infested Carpathian Mountains, the Roumanian, Polish, and Czeckoslavakian berries are found.”

The article outlines analytical techniques and considerations for standardizing gin production.  You cannot simply specify X grams of juniper per liter because the oil content of the botanical can vary so much.  Willkie explains the methods of the day used to create a “standardized botanical charge”.  What the article does not do is explain the relationship between aromas like juniper and angelica.  they are both olfactory-acid and the two are combined to with the aspiration of creating an overtone that moves beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary.

C. A. Crampton and L. M. Tolman. A study of the changes taking place in whiskey stored in wood. From the laboratory of the I.R.S.  (1907).

This paper is particularly interesting and very accessible to the layman.  The whiskeys studies read like porno and would be a dream to taste.  Their diversity at the very turn of the century is startling.  These guys sold this study to whoever financed it by claiming it would be used to help identify adulteration.  I keep finding it interesting that our best historical record of what spirits were like came from researchers associated with the I.R.S.

Valaer, Peter. Brandy. United States Bureau of Internal Revenue (1938).

An excellent look at brandy from an ambitious genius with a rare vantage point.  an astounding amount of samples came through Valaer’s labs.  The I.R.S. conducted numerous similar studies which helped refine with analytical techniques for detecting misrepresentation and adulteration.  This particular study shows peach brandy still being relevant in the late 1930’s.  Seven different states with of apple brandy are even compared.  The study even goes on to the show the comparative effects of different styles of aging on brandy.  This is interesting for all types of readers whether you are literate in the analytical parts or not.

Guymon, James F. Chemical Aspects of Distilling Wines into Brandy. University of California, Davis (1974).

A great article and right off the bat Guymon mentions the esters of fatty acids (olfactory-umami!) being notably abundant in brandy distillation when lees are included such as with cognac.  This paper also has some great explanations of the volatility of high boiling point compounds and how volatility varies as the % ethanol of the distilling material changes.  For example amyl alcohol (boiling point 138.5C) can move from the heads to the tales of a distillate depending on whether the distilling material is high proof or low proof.  You would think that high boiling point compounds are always in the tales but that is not always the case.

The paper makes me wonder if i should learn more organic chemistry.  As it is right now i reference wikipedia every other minute.  But the thing i am really after with all these organic chemistry compounds is their sensory attributes.  What the fuck do they smell like? and what gustatory divisions do they converge with?  Which esters are olfactory-sweet and which are olfactory-umami and which do not converge (think batavia arrack)? i have yet to see any connection between these obscure compounds and sensory science.

Garcia-Llobodanin et al. Pear Distillates from Pear Juice Concentrate: Effect on Lees in the Aromatic Composition. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2007, 55, 3462-3468.

methanol chart

this is a really fantastic study from a very recent source as opposed to the other ancient ones i’ve been posting.  i didn’t want to post any journal articles that would have any active copyright claims but i found this paper important for beginning distillers or those trying to learn more about spirits analysis.

for starters this is the first paper i’ve seen that shows how there can be more methanol in the hearts fraction than the heads fraction. this debunks the received wisdom that methanol can be limited by making a larger heads cut.

the paper also gives a great explanation of furfural (with its bitter almond aroma! who knew?) which is widely referenced in other spirits studies but never exactly explained. attempts are also made to describe many of the obscure and long named aroma compounds found in distillates.  desirability of various compounds is outlined.  references are then made to the concentrations of desirable or not compounds in other spirits of the same type (a survey of pear spirits) with advice how to change the cut to maximize desirable compounds.

RTFM: Using Your Brand New Manifold/Carbonator

Now that you’ve purchased your new champagne bottle manifold/carbonator you probably should learn to use it.

Let’s start with our safety disclaimer:


Please re-read the above disclaimer if you missed it.

The manifold can:
a. de-aerate
b. provide counter pressure
c. carbonate

a. De-aeration is the first technique that needs to be learned to use the champagne bottle manifold to its full potential. As a result of Dalton’s law, one dissolved gas can essentially displace another. CO² can displace oxygen in a process commonly known within industry as reflux de-aeration and NO² can displace both CO² and Oxygen in a process commonly known as nitro-sparging.

To de-aerate a liquid such as lemon juice, fill a champagne bottle with fresh juice and attach the manifold. Set the pressure on your regulator to 60 PSI. Shake for three seconds, rest for five seconds, then unscrew the top to vent the pressurized gas. Under pressure and with opportunity created by agitation, CO² should force oxygen out of solution where it fills the head space and can be vented by unscrewing the manifold. Repeat the process twice.

Successful de-aeration should leave lemon juice smelling fresh instead of piny which results from oxidation, even after many days. A visual proof of de-aeration can be performed with apple juice which turns brown within minutes due to oxidative processes. Apples can be juiced in a centrifugal juicer (which whips in lots of oxygen). If the juice is quickly de-aerated with the manifold, the juice will not brown. After de-aeration, we have aged our alcohol preserved sparkling cocktails (which incorporate fresh citrus juices) for eight months without noticing the effects of oxidation. Bottles can also be opened, partially used, then successfully de-aerated again and put back into storage.

b. Counter pressure is useful for preserving already sparkling beverages such as Champagne. At refrigerator temperature, it will take approximately 35 PSI to provide enough counter pressure for a bottle of Champagne to not loose dissolved gas. To provide counter pressure, set your regulator to 40 PSI, attach the manifold, then pressurize the bottle. Release the pressure to vent the oxygen that was present in the head space then re-pressurize. The Champagne will be provided with counter pressure to prevent de-gassing as well as be de-aerated. We have opened magnums of expensive Champagnes and then de-aerated and provided counter pressure after pouring each glass over a span of multiple days. The beauty of the manifold is that it can be put to use 24 hours a day. During the day it can be used to carbonate while over night it can be used to provide counter pressure and de-aeration for expensive sparkling wines.

c. Carbonation is the most popular use of the manifold. With a regulator set to 60 PSI and the manifold engaged, agitating a chilled liquid will allow it to absorb significant amounts of dissolved gas. The equilibrium pressure reached will be well less than 60 PSI, but the delta will help you get there quickly.

Many people think of carbonation in terms of pressure and temperature but carbonation can also be thought of in simpler terms of grams per liter (g/L) of dissolved gas. When we consider the weight of the dissolved CO², we can measure carbonation with equipment as simple as a commercial kitchen scale.

Cold bottles are simply filled with cold liquid, the manifold is attached and initially connected to the gas supply to fill the head space then disconnected (the head space can often hold a few grams of compressed gas), the bottle is dried then placed on the kitchen scale and zeroed. After zeroing, any weight that is added will reflect what is dissolved in the liquid. The gas supply can then be re-attached and CO² will be absorbed by the liquid as the bottle is agitated. The bottle can be periodically detached then re-weighed to see how much CO² has been dissolved in the liquid. Agitating the bottle facilitates the dissolving of the gas; basically you shake the bottle while it is under pressure and connected to the gas supply.

When the gas in the head space (which has a significant weight that can also be isolated by zeroing) is finally released by unscrewing the manifold, oxygen which was dissolved in the liquid is also purged allowing the product to be bottled essentially oxygen free.

To store the product, head space has to be accounted for. Bottles either have to be over carbonated to account for the gas needed to fill the head space if a bottle cap is to be affixed or the bottles will need to be topped up with de-aerated liquid.

Bottles must have enough head space to carbonate at an efficient rate. Head space correlates to surface area by which liquid can have opportunity to dissolve gas. A 750 mL bottle needs at least two ounces less than 750 mL to carbonate effectively and a magnum about four ounces. Bottles can either be topped up with de-aerated un-carbonated liquid or carbonated liquid depending on how the missing gas is accounted for.

Once the liquid has taken on significant dissolved gas, the manifold cannot be released immediately. Bottles need time to “bond” proportional to how carbonated they are otherwise liquids will foam detrimentally. This is a similar concept to the resting/decompression time scuba divers need before they can safely ascend from deep water. The deeper they are, and thus under more pressure, the more time they need to safely ascend. A resting time of 60 seconds is recommended for dissolved gas levels of 7 g/L and 120 seconds for dissolved gas levels exceeding 8 g/L.

A commonly asked what-if scenario:

What if I want to carbonate a small single serving volume to explore new recipes?

No problem. We carbonate 4.5 oz cocktails in 375 mL champagne bottles all the time. We simply create our cocktail and double strain then fill the chilled bottle. Gas is then applied at 60 PSI for 3 or 4 seconds. The bottle then gains approximately 3.5 grams of gas. The bottle is then agitated for 10 seconds to bring the bottle closer to equilibrium. Oxygen that was dissolved in the cocktail is forced out of solution by the pressurized CO² and will eventually be vented when the pressure is released. The bottle then needs to “bond” for 60 seconds which will prevent gas coming out of solution and foaming when the pressure is released. The pressure can be released slowly by gently unscrewing the manifold. The bottle will start to lose significant weight from the escaping gas. The gas that remains dissolved in the 4.5 oz. of liquid will likely be between 0.9 and 1.2 grams. For a 4.5 oz. cocktail, 0.9 grams translates to a very carbonated 7 g/L while 1.2 grams is a whopping 9.33 g/L!

If you want less dissolved gas, turn the regulator down from 60 PSI and experiment to generate the results you need. Some beverages we know foam significantly upon pouring. To explore the loss of gas due to foaming add your glass to the scale with the bottle. Zero then pour. When everything is re-weighed it will be discovered what was lost in the transfer from the bottle to the glass.

Fruit Brandy Distillate and Brandy Flavor Essence

This is a small excerpt from a book I bought years ago that has become impossibly rare and expensive. Joseph Merory’s Food Flavorings (1960).

I was hoping to draw attention to the technique of making a fruit brandy by distilling first and fermenting second which might come across to some as kind of crazy.  To me, the idea of distilling unfermented fruit should be widely known as a tool for the amateur home distiller.  Often people have backyard fruit trees but not the time or space or expertise to ferment the fruit.  Passable brandies can still be made in short amounts of time by pulping the fruit then fortifying it with a non-neutral spirit such as rum or whiskey before distillation to collect the wonderful aroma.  A non-neutral spirit should be used as opposed to vodka because it will contain valuable, almost requisite congeners that end up missing by skipping fermentation.

[edited eventually to add: I suspect Merory wrote about techniques he never really practiced or never widely explored.  Some seem like arm chair ideas.  From what I’ve learned lately if I tried to capture the aroma of unfermented fruit pulp I wouldn’t do it with vodka but rather a “living” spirit that has has all the necessary generic congeners to support the fruit aroma; ethyl acetate and acetaldehyde.  Robert Leaute called these congeners “aroma fixatives”.  Without fermentation the fruit probably wouldn’t have enough of these.  The best place to get them is probably a cheaper rhum agricole.]

p. 298

Property of Fruit Brandies

Fruit brandies take their names from the fruit from which they are manufactured. They are reduced in alcoholic strength by the addition of water after distillation to make them drinkable.

Any fruit may be used for the production of fruit brandies. There are four ways in which to produce fruit brandies.

Crush the fruits, allow the pulp to ferment, and then distill the fermented mash.

Crush the fruits, allow the pulp to ferment, express the juice, continuing fermentation, and then proceed with fractional distillation of the cleared juice.  The middle fraction of the distillation can be used to fortify fruit flavors.

In this method the fermented and cleared juice of the second procedure is concentrated by freezing and centrifuging to an alcohol content of 30 per cent and then distilled.  The middle fraction of the distillation yields the finest fruit flavor essence.  It is useful as a natural fortifier of dessert wine, champagne, fruit flavored brandies, and fruit flavors.

[Merory doesn’t spell it out but freeze concentration here increases total acidity which catalyzes esterification which is a process of aroma creation in the still.]

In full flavor brandy, the evolution of carbon dioxide during fermentation tends to volatilize some of the aromatic, volatile flavor constituents.  In order to produce a full flavored brandy the aromatic fraction may be removed by distillation before fermentation and is then added to the distilled brandy.  To obtain the best possible yield, fruit should be subjected to slow fermentation.

[I bet this is one of Merory’s arm chair ideas but it seems like a fun things to try and possibly valuable to beginning distillers who are new to fermentation.  If the fermentation gets botched whatever alcohol and simple congeners would have been produced can be replaced in the next batch by a substitute like rhum agricole. I still have yet to try it]


p. 24
cherry and benzaldehyde flavor
wild cherry bark.
“… the chief constituent of the bark is d-mandelonitrile glucoside or prunasin, which has properties similar to the amygdalin of the almond seed.  the other constituents are benzoic, trimethylgallic, and p-coumaric acids, tannin, and volatile oil.  if ground or pulvergized wild cherry bark is treated with warm water of about 131F, enzyme emulsin will hydrolyze prunasin to benzaldehyde, glucose, and hydrocyanic acid.  the latter is removed chemically or is lost during the distillation.  distillation yields a flavor similar to kirschwasser…” [I suspect the use of the bark might be how Hiram Walker can make such a fun Kirschwasser so affordably.]
bitter almond
“… after removal of the fixed oil, the cake of the bitter almonds is mixed with warm water (131F) allowed to hydrolize and is then subjected to steam distillation.  the distilled oil contains more than 80 per cent benzaldehyde, party in free state but mainly in combination in a small amount of hydrocyanic acid.  the latter is removed chemically by heating the distilled oil with a sulfite, or a slaked lime and an iron salt, and then the mass is redistilled.  oil of bitter almond is heavier than water.”
“oil of bitter almond is also derived from the seeds of the apricot.  the oil derived from the seeds of the almond tree is imported mainly from southern france, spain, and italy.  it is obtainable in two varieties; of containing hydrocyanic acid besides benzaldehyde, the other being free from Prussic (hydrocyanic) acid, often labeled in abbreviated form– FFPA.”
“kirschwasser.–Kirschwasser is made by fractional distillation of a fermented mash of cherries and crushed seeds.  the increased temperature of the mash during the fermentation hydrolyzes the amygdalin of the seeds to benzaldehyde.  a 50 to 55 per cent alcohol content of the distillate yields the best aroma of kirschwasser.”

High Pressure Batching! NYE Edition.

Happy New Years!

I thought I’d give a run down of my new years cocktail which I made with the amazing Champagne Bottle Manifold. I made six liters total.
Two magnums and four 750’s, plus a 375 ml for some of the spare liquid.

sparkling heirloom raspberry-lime rickey

2000ml Randall Grahm’s pacific rim framboise

666ml aperol
666ml blanco tequila
666ml lime juice
2000ml water

To chill everything as fast as possible I put the framboise in the refrigerator the night before and the aperol and tequila in the freezer (they have enough alcohol and/or sugar to not freeze). The water was stirred with ice to bring it down to just above freezing.

I then funneled the liquid into the bottles (mindful of the head space) and then put them in buckets of iced water. Assembling everything is pretty quick if you have the right containers and a nice space to spread out.

I aspired to have at least 7 g/L of dissolved gas in the drink to make it quite sparkling.

7 * .75 = 5.25 grams for a 750ml

7 * 1.5 = 10.5 grams for a 1.5 ml magnum

Soon I started making mistakes that should be easy to avoid if you are aware of them.

For mistake no. 1, the first 750 ml bottle was filled all the way to 750 ml which means that there was very little head space. This bottle took on gas at a miserably slow rate.

To correct mistake no. 1, for the second 750 ml bottle which was filled to 750ml I poured out about 2 ounces which drastically accelerated carbonation.

The magnums carbonated quickly. The head space in a magnum is quite large relative to the head space in a 750 so all the added surface area when you agitate the bottles sucks up gas quite quickly.

The first mistake was not leaving enough head space to carbonate fast and the second mistake was not topping up the bottles so they did not lose gas when they came to equilibrium under the cap. The bottles have to be over carbonated to a small degree to account for the compressed gas that will occupy the head space once the manifold is removed and a bottle cap is affixed. If you know the head space volume this amount of gas can be accurately measured. It can also be estimated quite easily.

To estimate how much gas occupies the head space:

1. Fill a bottle to your desired fill height with warm water so the gas does not start immediately dissolving into the water.

2. Set your regulator to 40 PSI (an estimate). We may carbonate at 65 PSI but the final pressure in the bottle at fridge temp is much closer to 40 PSI. If we understood the gas law better this could be more accurately measured.

3. Attache the cap and zero the scale. now add compressed gas to the bottle without agitating. If your head space is only something like 4 or 5 ounces, 0.6 grams may fit into the head space. This is a not insignificant percentage but can easily be accounted for by over carbonating, but keep in mind topping up the bottles is also an option.

The last mistake was with the temporary caps I chose. I did not want to haul my 29mm bottle capper to work so I used some horrible clip on champagne stoppers which apparently did not keep a good seal. A secure cap is very important. I will not use something I cannot count on again.

All the mistakes were easy to recover from. I simply freshened up the bottles before service by adding more dissolved gas. They were only down about a gram so it went quickly. The drink was a big hit and the ease of dispensing took a lot of the strain off serving so many cocktail crazed people. I loved that I could simply pour a taste for people that weren’t literate in the ingredients (the symbols!).

Next time it will be easier. I really enjoyed working with the magnum bottles. For the future I’m also going to add a y-adapter to my regulator so I can carbonate two bottles at one time (two hoses, two manifolds).  That way I can have two staff members bang out the prep in half the time.