The Art of Drink: 2007

Darcy O'Neil :: January 1, 2007 2:14 PM

The Art of Drink 2007First, Happy New Year to everyone, I hope the hangovers are mellow and the coffee is good. Even though January 1st is just another day, in the big picture, it still gives us an opportunity to reflect on the past year and the upcoming year. So it makes sense for me to take a brief look at what this site has done in 2006 and where The Art of Drink intends to go in 2007. As always suggestions are welcome and if there is anything you would like to read about in 2007, please let me know.

The year 2006 has been a pretty good year for drink weblogs, especially this one. December 2006 continued an impressive growth trend with unique visitors and page views making big gains. Also, each month there seems to be a greater interest in the world of cocktails, spirits, beer, wine and other drinks. This is great and the growing interest in good drinks is also being seen in the growth of the number of drink related blogs on the Internet. In 2006 the number of cocktail blogs went from maybe 10 to about 50+. Hopefully 2007 will see this level of continued growth and maybe this will translate into getting a good cocktail or unique beer at your local bar.

In 2007 I want to cover more drinks outside of cocktails. Don’t worry, cocktails will still be the primary focus, but things like coffee, cappuccino and anything drinkable should be covered. Who knows, maybe some of these not alcohol related drinks will help create the next great cocktail. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever written about an alcohol free cocktail, aka the virgin cocktail, so maybe it is time. My sister gave me a French Coffee Press for Christmas and this thing makes the best damn coffee, which has obviously piqued my interest into different coffees, so expect some coffee topics.
   
One of the topics I’m going to continue to cover is spirit comparisons. In 2006 I did an extended look at Canadian whiskies and in early 2007 I’m going to look at four (maybe five) premium Canadian whiskies which include; Wisers Very Old, Gibson’s Finest 18 Year, Alberta Premium 25 Year, Crown Royal Special Reserve and possible Forty Creek Barrel Select. The Forty Creek whisky isn’t as old as the rest, nor as expensive, but it is such a good whisky that I think it will compete very well. Also, as summer 2007 rolls around I’m going to look at a good number of rums, which have been collection on my shelves, but haven’t done much other than to make some great cocktails.

Another thing I intend to write about is some scientific studies related to alcohol, including taste perceptions, scientific analysis of spirits, bitter taste markers, and individual taste variations. I’ve been surfing around the National Institute of Sciences (NIS) database of scientific research and came across a lot of useful and interesting information. The NIS only provides abstracts of the papers online, but luckily I work part-time at a world class research centre (Robart Research Institute at the University of Western Ontario (UWO)) which has full access to all of these papers. Yes, I still bartend Thursday to Saturday, but I also work two days a week in the Molecular Pathology lab at Robarts. Keeps my life interesting.

Most of these research papers are very scientific so it helps that I’ve studied chemistry, which means I can interpret a lot of the “geek speak” and lay it out in a more concise, easy to read and entertaining way. I’ve listed some of the papers I’ve already looked at, but there are many more so it should be some interesting reading in the future, if not slightly controversial. If the titles of the papers don’t make much sense, I promise that they are related to cocktails and spirits. If there is a significant interest I might actually do a scientific study on vodka. I have an objective and theory, so it is just a matter of getting it done.

Finally, I intend to continue to develop the site to extend a little bit beyond the typical blog. As you have seen, in 2006, I’ve been working on a cocktail database that focuses on good drinks. I’ve been fiddling with the database to make sure it works properly and expands the way I want it too in the future, so things are developing slowly, but it will pick up in the future. Also, I’m going to create databases for spirits, beer and wine. These will be basically supplemental to the blog posts, and in reality are just my tasting notes, which some people may find useful. The spirits section will basically be what my home bar has, or had, in stock. These technical offshoot of the site takes time, and I usually prefer to write blog posts rather than working on databases, so development will be slow.

You may notice that I’m trying to keep the advertisements on this site as unobtrusive as possible, but it is a fact that to run a site with a large amount of traffic requires some form of advertising to pay the bills. I won’t use pop-ups nor will I write “advertorials” espousing the greatness of some crappy product. This site will keep its integrity at all costs. If I write that I like a product, then that means I truly do, but I also understand that certain products are not meant for people like me, so when I do a review, I make sure I look at the companies target market and review it accordingly. I also reject accepting product samples if I know they are crap.

Well, that is a short list of things I want to do. Time wise I hope I can do them all, but if not I will make sure that I continue to write good content. Here’s to a great 2007 and I wish everyone the best.

Short List of Scientific Papers


  1. Sweet and bitter tastes of alcoholic beverages mediate alcohol intake in of-age undergraduates.
  2. Characterisation of whiskeys using solid-phase micro-extraction with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
  3. Phenolic constituents, furans, and total antioxidant status of distilled spirits.
  4. Characterization of cachaca and rum aroma.
  5. Determination of key odorant compounds in freshly distilled cognac using GC-O, GC-MS, and sensory evaluation.
  6. Identification of trace volatile compounds in freshly distilled Calvados and Cognac using preparative separations coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
  7. Ability to distinguish whisky (uisge beatha) from brandy (cognac).
  8. Hangovers and whiskey congeners. Comparison of whisky with vodka.
  9. Food acceptance and genetic variation in taste.
  10. Bitter taste markers explain variability in vegetable sweetness, bitterness, and intake.
  11. The relationship between phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) and 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) taster status and taste thresholds for sucrose and quinine.
  12. Comparison of the odor-active compounds in unhopped beer and beers hopped with different hop varieties.
  13. Can malt whisky be discriminated from blended whisky? The proof. A modification of Sir Ronald Fisher's hypothetical tea tasting experiment
  14. Influence of distillation system, oak wood type, and aging time on composition of cider brandy in phenolic and furanic compounds.

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