Asheville Museum of Science recently presented a slice of the science behind cocktails.

Cultivated Cocktails, formerly H&H Distilling Company, has a line of spirits that include Hazel 63 Rum, Hwy 9 Gin, a wine barrel rested gin called Shades of Rose, and Asheville Coffee Liqueur. In a few months Cultivated Cocktails will be releasing its new Steel Horse Whisky.

Cultivated Cocktails owner Taylor Howard announced that the H&H brand is being replaced with its new name.

“We’re rebranding and have a new location in downtown Asheville on Page Avenue. The store will feature everything you need to make the perfect cocktail from spirits to fresh herbs, bitters, shrubs, tonics and syrups. We also have all the bar hardware such as jiggers, shakers, stirrers, and strainers’” he said.

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Reel Adams, the distiller for Cultivated Cocktails, demonstrated the distilling process with a glass still. / Photo by Mark-Ellis Bennett

Reel Adams, the distiller for Cultivated Cocktails, explained the distilling process and demonstrated it with a glass distilling apparatus.

“We’re distilling an alcohol and water mixture flavored with some Nicaraguan cacao nibs from French Broad Chocolates. We gently boil the alcohol, but not so hot that the water in the mixture evaporates. The steam vapor of the alcohol rises up and liquefies in the condensing coil. The result is alcohol with a beautiful chocolaty flavor, leaving behind some of the earthy bitterness that comes out of the chocolate.”

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Amanda Phillips, a bartender at Sovereign Remedies serves fish house punch from a large silver bowl, and reveals the secret science behind making crystal clear ice. / Mark-Ellis Bennett

Amanda Phillips, a bartender at Sovereign Remedies revealed the secret science behind making crystal clear ice.

“Commercially, we use a machine called a Clinebell that freezes blocks of clear ice with a cold plate on the bottom, while a water pump near the surface keeps water circulating. This prevents ice from forming on the surface where the air clouds it.,” she said. The process of making a 300 pound block takes about three days.

“Air is the enemy of clear ice,” Phillips said. “Making clear ice at home requires patience. A lot of people take silicone molds, stick them under the faucet to fill them with water, put them in the freezer, and then wonder why they don’t have clear ice. It’s understandable when you think about the aeration of the water from the sink faucet. You’re letting air in there.”

Phillips said the trick to making clear ice at home is to filter the water with a Brita water filter to remove impurities.

“Then pour it into the mold slowly. It’s really just about patience,” she said.

Making ice in a thermally insulated cooler placed in a freezer freezes cold, hard and clear until it gets to the bottom. You can then scrape the cloudy ice off, or if you time it right, you can get the ice out before the cloudy part freezes.

Phillips served her variation of a fish house punch from a large silver bowl with crystal clear ice cubes. There are many recipes for fish house punch dating back to colonial times, but she made hers with dry Riesling wine, H&H Distilling Company’s Hazel 63 Rum, green tea simple syrup, lemon and lime juice.

“The acidity of the citrus juice balances the sweetness of the syrup,” she said.

Learn more about the Asheville Museum of Science’s educational offerings at www.AshevilleScience.org.

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