Advanced motional content basics (liqueurs!)
I apologize for this chart rendering so poorly in the browser.
|Type & brand||alcohol||specific gravity||alcohol influence on specific gravity||adjusted gravity||sugar in g/l|
|carlshamns flag punsch||26||1.082||0.03022||1.11222||293|
|stock sweet vermouth||16||1.044||0.02002||1.06402||167|
|stock dry vermouth||18||0.02206|
|maracuja do ezequiel||26||1.098||0.03022||1.12822||336|
|constelacao licor cafe||27||1.139||0.03130||1.17030||457|
|j. monteiro mint licor||22||1.171||0.02605||1.19705||520|
|carpano antica vermouth||16.5||1.057||0.02054||1.07754||201|
|marolo chamomile grappa||35||1.025||0.04092||1.06592||171|
|punt y mes||16||1.073||0.02002||1.09302||242|
|lemoncello “torna sorrento”||30||1.059||0.03466||1.09366||245|
|senior curacao of curacao||31||1.044||0.03582||1.07982||208|
|marie brizard curacao orange||30||1.090||0.03466||1.12466||325|
|nocino maurizio russo||30||1.039||0.03466||1.07366||191|
One of the most significant contributions to the emotional content of a flavor experience is the sugar content. An understanding of sugar content can be useful in creating commonly accepted harmony. Harmony in this case is a function of sugar content relative to numerous contrasting planes like acidity and alcohol. Unfortunately there isn’t much reliable data out there on sugar contents yet, but I constantly see search referrals looking for them (calorie counters or inquisitive artists?). This table (it will grow) represents an attempt.
(Gary Regan has an excellent table and maybe I can have him send me alcohol contents for products at the time he made measurements (because brands do change their metrics) and then I can crunch the numbers and we can see how products have evolved (if we are confident in our methods!))
Within a liqueur, two significant forces (there are others) effect the density which we can use to get a really close approximation of the sugar content (feel free to challenge my methodology). Alcohol decreases density and luckily its a known variable because its printed on the label (but allowed to have a fairly large margin of error). Sugar increases density and its the unknown variable we are looking to reveal.
If we compensate for alcohol’s effect on the specific gravity using one of many available tables, we can create an adjusted specific gravity that can be used to isolate the sugar content’s effect. To find various alcohol contents’ influence on the specific gravity, I recommend the chart in the back of Irving Hirsch’s “Manufacture of Whiskey, Brandy & Cordials” (1937 reprint). Hirsch’s chart (courtesy the Bureau of Standards) is the best I’ve found. Many others do not feature the low alcohol contents with any accuracy that are needed for examining aromatized wines.
The adjusted specific gravity can be converted to a grams per liter of sucrose using “circular C440” from the same Bureau of Standards. This circular used to be easy to track down in PDF but all my links are broken and I’m too low tech to host it. I can email the PDF to anybody that needs it.
Of course I should be paying attention to temperature which influences gravity, but most of these measurements were taken on the run in adverse circumstances that didn’t allow a temperature consideration (the free minutes in between restaurant service here and there).
This data has a variety of uses. For starters we can compare these numbers to many of Joseph Koenig’s from 1879 and make some anthropological hypothesis as to why things have changed. Tastes have changed of course, but in the beginning did liqueur sugar contents ever match popular tastes in the first place? Recipes were dynamic as opposed to the modern static attempt, but was that because liqueurs didn’t always bring the desired emotional content to allow harmonic recipes using our modern simple ratios (2:1:1)?
We as artists can use this data as a tool to increase empathy. Selecting bottlings based on sugar content can help control and focus the emotional content of a drink. Aroma aside, a change from Brizard’s curacao to Senior’s curacao will result in significantly different emotional content in a 2:1:1 margarita.
Then of course this data can be used to produce house made products for a bar program. Why reinvent the wheel when you can simply emulate success? Most house made products I’ve tasted could benefit from a little more consistency and refinement.