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THE SCIENCE of Artisanal
Beverages

As Bubbles Expand, So Does Our Pleasure

At a time when long drinks are at the heart of consumers’ preferences, it’s the details that set apart good from great. So it’s high time we realised that – more than ever – bubbles deserve our undivided attention. There’s a science to fizzy drinks, and that’s exactly what we’re going to focus on today.

So, scientifically speaking, it’s carbon dioxide that adds body to a beverage, and it also reinforces its aroma. Put simply, this means that if you want an extra fragrant, full-bodied result, one of the tricks to use is topping your drink up with a carbonated beverage. There’s no question about it. We should keep an eye on our bubbles and make sure they stay in our drink for as long as possible.

Simple? We wouldn’t say so, as that’s where the bad news comes in: From the very moment we open up a can of soft drink, the lifespan of its bubbles starts drawing to a close. It’s time to return to science and talk about nucleation sites, also known as nucleation points. When the carbon dioxide in the soda is disturbed, it escapes through the liquid, expanding and creating fizz and bubbles.

An etching on the inside of the glass, a speck of dust, or even the garnish, straw and ice in a long drink can all be nucleation points. This means that almost everything we do makes carbon dioxide expand faster. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You see, it’s the bubbles that carry the drink’s aromas and will eventually funnel its full bouquet of freshness to the nose. A representative example of how necessary it is for carbon dioxide to expand are the specially designed pint glasses that some of the biggest beer brands are increasingly investing in. Purpose-built patterns are etched into the bottom of these glasses in an effort to create more nucleation points. More bubbles, more aromas, better flavour; an enhanced, elevated experience.

To sum up, there are many supporters on either side of the nucleation debate when it comes to creating the perfect long drink. Good or bad, nucleation points are simply impossible to avoid. Therefore, if we keep them in mind and minimise their amount to create balance, our drink will remain enjoyable for longer.

How exactly do we do that? Take note:

  • Always use a tall highball glass, ideally a Collins tumbler.
  • Add just one big piece of ice rather than many smaller ice cubes to reduce the CO2 nucleation points.
  • Make sure the spirits and mixers you use are as cold as possible.
  • Add as little garnish as possible.

As for the ideal way to serve the most famous long drink in the world, the Gin & Tonic, remember to avoid using a bar spoon when adding the tonic because that adds more nucleation sites. The best method is to pour the tonic very slowly, ensuring it’s touching the walls of the glass.

Enjoy!

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