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Milk washing an espresso martini

What Do Ben Franklin, Miss Muffet And Espresso Martinis Have In Common?

April 10, 2024
A recent American Chemical Society video details a complicated process to craft a well-rounded martini.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I cruised the Caribbean with several friends to celebrate a milestone birthday. Of course, drinking was involved. I spent a week at sea sipping various cocktails to determine a favorite. During the day, I’d opt for fruity frozen drinks. At dinner, I stuck with a simple gin and tonic. But at night, I discovered espresso martinis. These were the perfect elixir to help me stay up past my normal bedtime of 9 p.m. (I was dubbed Grandma Traci after the first night).

After a week of drinking, it was back to reality. I was knee-deep in emails trying to catch up when I opened a message from Managing Editor Amanda Joshi. We’ve worked together for years, so she gets me. Her short note: “Some potential blog fodder for you.” She included a link to an American Chemical Society (ACS) Reactions video “Using chemistry and a 300-year-old technique to reinvent a drink.” The technique: milk washing. The drink: espresso martini.

According to the ACS release, “Adding milk to an alcoholic drink and then curdling that milk is a 300-year-old preservation technique that was used by none other than Ben Franklin.”

The process is said to leave you with a clearer, less bitter, rounder-tasting drink. I highly doubt this is how the bartenders on my cruise made my espresso martini. But now I am in the market for a used centrifuge, peanut butter and vodka (the last two items I will purchase new) to see if my latest favorite drink can make me even happier.

The three keys to this process would have kept Little Miss Muffet on her tuffet a lot longer:

1.   Curds – these solids collect flavor and color.

2.   Fat washing – It’s the same chemistry as curd washing but in reverse.

3.   Whey – this is the secret ingredient that makes libations even more luxurious.

This nearly 17-minute video explains the science behind milk washing and has ACS Reactions host George Zaidan drinking at 9 a.m. and shouting out “Chemistry works, man,” after tasting his creation.

While it’s a complicated process, in the name of science, it’s brilliant. Cheers!

About the Author

Traci Purdum | Editor-in-Chief

Traci Purdum, an award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering manufacturing and management issues, is a graduate of the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kent, Ohio, and an alumnus of the Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

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