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Kevin Liu

Kevin Liu

Cocktails Geek

Kevin Liu likes to drink science and study cocktails. Wait, that's backward.

He's the author of Craft Cocktails at Home: Offbeat Techniques, Contemporary Crowd Pleasers, and Classics Hacked with Science.

Feel free to ask him geeky food and booze questions on twitter @kevinkliu or google plus.

  • Website
  • Location: Richmond, VA
  • Favorite foods: kale, bacon, and cocktails. not necessarily in that order.
  • Last bite on earth: a shot of fernet

The History and Science of Frozen Slushie Cocktails

Every time I've come across premade frozen-cocktails-in-a-bag at the grocery store, I can't help but wonder if there might be something worth drinking inside. I was curious about how these cocktail-pouches came to be, and whether they might provide some hints for making better creamy-textured frozen drinks at home. More

Cocktail Science: Does Your Cocktail Need Salt?

Salt—it's not just for margaritas any more. Bartenders have long understood that a few drops of bitters go a long way toward 'rounding out' the rough edges of a drink, and now they've figured out that a tiny amount of salt can create the same magic. Today, we look at some of the hows and whys as we explore how a few tiny grains can up the flavor of your favorite mixed drinks. More

Cocktail Science: All About Foams

The head on a pour of Guinness, the crema of a perfectly pulled espresso shot, the froth from a malted milkshake. Creamy, bubbly, and aromatic, each of these naturally-occurring foams adds an extra dimension of texture to drinks. Today, we'll look at some traditional and not-so-traditional techniques for making and perfecting foams for cocktails. More

Cocktail Science: 5 Myths About Ice, Debunked

If you spend time at fancy cocktail bars, it's quite possible that you've heard a few things about ice that that aren't quite true when you put them to the scientific test. Today, we're debunking those myths and clearing up a little of the science behind the chilly stuff. More

Cool New Bitters Showcase Salty, Sweet, Savory, and Sour

@franko yes! the umami bitters are great in a manhattan. I particularly like them in the toronto as well - it's similar to the Manhattan, but a bit more intense.

The Fastest Way to Chill a Cocktail Glass

@DavMackmiller sounds about right, for sure! Thanks for sharing.

The Fastest Way to Chill a Cocktail Glass

@JMForester didn't know that existed, I guess that's like a blast chiller? Aren't they expensive? Thanks for the info!

The Fastest Way to Chill a Cocktail Glass

@James NZ. ok, I might just have to try this.

The Fastest Way to Chill a Cocktail Glass

@James NZ: I had heard about this, but that it would be an expensive trick. Plus, is there really no other residue that comes out from the extinguisher? Still, pretty neat in a jif.

The Fastest Way to Chill a Cocktail Glass

@Funghi Porcini: I thought about that, but didn't get to try it because I didn't find any dry ice in the grocery stores near me. Also, if you search "dry ice vodka" on youtube you find that dry ice can actually freeze the vodka, which is not something I wanted to mess with.

What Happens When You Add Olive Oil to a Cocktail?

@eelzon pretty cool recipe, but why did you heat the oil? To give it a roasted taste? I don't think you would need to heat it for sanitation or anything.

@NovaChild yeah! I was pleasantly surprised too :-)

A No-Heat, No-Filter Technique for Making Cocktail Syrups

@M Sherry: yes, the technique should still work, though not as well.

@BeavisPeters we actually had a bit of a science debate on your point about whether the oils are moving through osmosis. The short answer is that osmosis is definitely involved and that oils are obviously making it into the syrup. Is the sugar literally drawing the oil out the way it would draw water? No, I don't think so. And beyond that, I don't have a good answer.

@Tee Fred: no, I didn't add water to all my syrups, some of them I used in old-fashioned variations as is.

The History and Science of Frozen Slushie Cocktails

@BeavisPeters I doubt it - if sucrose worked "better," then I'm sure the companies would use it, since sucrose is pretty accessible. I'd be willing to bet they'd still have to add texturing agents.

@Kindred Cocktails sounds awesome!

Cocktail Science: All About Carbonation

@Vidiot that's a seriously awesome post. Have you ever tried measuring your carbonation levels?

5 Great Places to Drink Cocktails in Richmond, VA


great recommendation - I keep telling myself I'm going to make it over to Amuse! Will try harder :-)

Cocktail Science: All About Carbonation


Hmm that's a good point. I guess I'd never really looked at club soda as a product before. I didn't know the point was to simulate mineral waters. If that's the case, the best reference is probably Martin Lersch's work on mineral waters. Have you looked at that? Also, Darcy O'Neil's book has some great info on the subject.

Cocktail Science: All About Carbonation

So my good friend Stephen Shellenberger points out that the conversion factor I used for volumes to g/L is for room temperature, but it actually makes more sense to use 1.94: the conversion factor for 0°C, since most drinks are served at 0°.

Cocktail Science: All About Carbonation


Check out this article for my thoughts on adding minerals to water.

Cocktail Science: All About Carbonation

@BeavisPeters the vary majority of the bite is going to come from added acids-being aware of Carbonic acid only really comes into play when there are no other acids. Though there is anecdotal evidence that carbonation can change the way we perceive acidity.

Cocktail Science: All About Carbonation

I've never tested the latest version of the ISI carbonator. I wasn't a fan of soda siphons in general in the past due to build quality issues, but Amazon reviews seem to indicate the ISI has a sturdy build.

The main reasons I don't bother with soda siphons:
1. You can only carbonate one thing at a time (no option carbonate/store in standard plastic bottles, that is)
2. You're supposed to dispense through a narrow spout, so you can't carbonate anything with chunks or that are particularly thick.
3. Why not spend a few extra dollars and get a whipper, which can both carbonate and create whipped creams?

5 Great Places to Drink Cocktails in Richmond, VA

@machellebelle see that, editor? pretty pretty please?

5 Great Places to Drink Cocktails in Richmond, VA


sorry about that! yeah actually I've been in Richmond off and on for the last few years and it's crazy how much the food/drink scene has changed. Can't wait to see what comes next.

so true about T Leggett - just got to know him when he was guest bartending at Heritage a few weeks back. Great stuff. And I know there are other amazing places to grab a drink - Pasture, Dutch & Company, Julep's, the list goes on... I just want to make the disclaimer that this is by no means a "best places" list - just a few good places for different tastes.

The Curious Bartender: Reimagined Cocktails from Across the Pond


Ok, here's the cliff notes version, though bear in mind the Serious Eats staff has not tested it, and I highly recommend you leaf through the full description if you can get your hands on the book!

- In a large jug/pitcher, combile 1 L/1 qt Tanqueray Malacca gin, 100g/3.3oz barley malt syrup, 70ml/2.3 oz apple juice, 150g/5 oz honey, 150g/5 oz (caster) sugar, 15g/.5 oz grapefruit zest, 2g dried wormwood, 1g cloves (about 5, 2ml angostura.
- Allow to combine 48 hours, then filter and transfer to saucepan
- hydrate 25g/1 oz leaf gelatin in cold water, then to the infusion in the pan and warm to 60°C/140°F, whisking until dissolved.
- Pour into 50ml/2oz molds and refrigerate for 5 hours.
- To serve, place one cube into a teacup along with gold leafe, dehydrated orange, a strip of cinnamon bark, and some juniper berries and add hot water.

From page 82 of The Curious Bartender

The Curious Bartender: Reimagined Cocktails from Across the Pond

@CityMinx the recipe for the Royal Purl Stock Purl is literally a page of explanation and detailed instructions. That's how many of the more complex recipes are formatted.

Ergonomics and How to Organize Your Home Bar


actually, that's a good point. I guess I never gave a thought to workflow until my third bar started getting really on my nerves. The inverted L-bar concept grew out of the bar I'm building into my new house. Hopefully it works!

Ergonomics and How to Organize Your Home Bar


Great tips, thanks a ton. I particularly like the wet towel/dry towel concept. Definitely going to start using that.

I never realized professional bars would face some of the same issues!

Ergonomics and How to Organize Your Home Bar

@D. Grover

Glad to see that it's not just me facing these problems! Good tip about the premade cocktails - definitely a smart move :-)

Light and Drizzly

I do most of my measurements in grams because it's more accurate when working with odd shapes, such as whole spices. I use a spiffy food scale.

Mocktail Science: Easy Substitutes for Complexity

@joydreamz if you have ever smoked meat, you can place the syrup into a heat-safe container and smoke it that way. Here's an example.

Or you can DIY a tiny smoker at home with kitchen stuff you probably already have.

And finally (this is how I do it) you can add the syrup to a 750mL bottle (fill it quarter-full) and fill the remaining space of the bottle with smoke from a smoker gun. Then seal the bottle, shake and let sit for a few minutes.

And thanks for your own ideas :-)

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