March 31, 2009

Top 12 Step Program Obscure Booze Facts

12. An alcoholic beverage cannot be greater than 95% alcohol (190 proof). At concentrations higher than that, the solution will actually pull moisture from the air and self dilute. However, if you're relying on fermentation alone, you won't even get close. The best you can get with fermentation is about 36 proof, or 18% alcohol.

11. Most people are familiar with panagrams (phrases or sentences that contain all the letters of a native alphabet) from the phrase "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." However, predating that, a common one among typesetters was "Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs."

10. Most drinkers in the US become acquainted with Jägermeister as an somewhat unpleasant liqueur to be downed in one gulp. It was originally used in much the same way as bitters are today, as a flavoring agent, not as the "main course." However, it's sweeter than most spirits carrying the "bitters" label, and is therefore termed Halbbitter or Kräuterlikör, respectively half-bitter or herbal liqueur.

9. The logo on Jägermeister, the head of a stag with a glowing cross between its antlers, refers the the stories of St. Hubertus and St. Eustace; both are patron saints of hunters.

8. The Bacardi logo, on the other hand, refers to the distillery that the Bacardi company had while still based in Cuba, which had fruit bats living in the rafters.

7. Estimates of rum consumption in the Colonial United States, prior to the American Revolution, averaged out to every man, woman and child drinking the equivalent of 3 gallons (13.5 liters) of rum annually.

6. By an act of Congress, bourbon whiskey has been declared to be the official spirit of the United States.

5. Bourbon whiskey must, by law, be made of at least 51% corn. Rye whiskey, on the other hand, must be made from at least 51% rye. Bourbon tends to be sweeter, as a result, while rye tends to taste more "peppery."

4. Whiskey/whisky encompasses a broad range of spirits that are distilled from fermented grain mash and aged in wooden casks. The appellation includes rye, bourbon and Scotch, among others, and derives from uisce beatha in Irish Gaelic (uisge beatha in Scottish Gaelic) and means "water of life."

3. "Water of life" is also used, albeit in different languages, as the term for other spirits: "Akvavit" from Scandinavian countries, is a spirit distilled from grain or potatoes and flavored with herbs such as caraway, dill, fennel, or anise. "Eau de vie" is a clear distilled fruit brandy, often made from stone fruits, pears or apples.

2. Apart from consuming alcohol with a meal, there are also precedents for drinking before and after, to alternately stimulate or aid digestion. Before-meal drinks, such as champagne, ouzo, or vermouth, are referred to as apéritifs, while those consumed afterwards, like bitters, port, brandy, limoncello or grappa, are called digestifs.

1. There is a cloud of pure alcohol in outer space large enough to make four trillion-trillion drinks -- if it weren't made of methanol, that is. Sadly, it's not the drinkable kind.


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