Ugh…I’m so hungover and I definitely blacked out last night. My apartment is trashed and corn husks are strewn all over the kitchen, which can only mean that the tamales I had in the freezer were consumed at some point. Last thing I remember was literally running from the bar to the grocery store to make sure we got there before 2 am to buy more booze. How did I get this blackout drunk! I only had four martini's at the bar when I can easily polish off a bottle of wine on my own without getting sloppy, no sweat. I'm going to assume you have experienced a blackout moment along these lines in your drinking history. I’m not here to shame you about how hammered you got (you lush), but rather go into the mistake I made by falsely equivocating a martini with a glass of wine which lead to the debauchery above.
Alcohol is to blame folks! I can almost hear the collective duh, but seriously, what is alcohol? A vodka martini and a glass of sauvignon blanc doesn't have the same amount of alcohol? What is ABV? Proof? This is almost as tedious as converting weight from the Imperial system to the Metric system which I’m sure makes you wonder if it’s even worth the effort. It is my friends, just ask the Mar’s Climate Orbiter team (spoiler alert: they crashed it) or more importantly your liver (sorry sorry sorry shhh... your ok your gonna be ok.)
A quick google search of the definition says alcohol is "a colorless volatile flammable liquid that is produced by the natural fermentation of sugars and is the intoxicating constituent of wine, beer, spirits, and other drinks, and is also used as an industrial solvent and as fuel." Whether or not you are going to drink a nice whiskey or rubbing alcohol has to do with how much alcohol per volume(ABV) is in the liquid. Something as benign as Kombucha can have and ABV of .05% percent, where as the highly flammable and discontinued Bacardi 151 has an ABV of 75.5%.
Fortunately you don’t have to conduct lab tests to know how much alcohol is in a beverage. You need not look further than the bottle's label to be given that information. Do it, pick-up a bottle and check the label for yourself. The average ABV for beer is 4.5%, for wine the average is 11.6%, and for liquor the average is 37%.
Now that I have your attention on the label, specifically your liquor bottle label, you might have noticed another number called proof. While the ABV number is pretty simple to understand and universally understood, proof is more convoluted. Proof is a little 16th century relic from when technology to precisely measure alcohol in beverages did not exist. The interest in measuring the alcohol was due to the English government being keen on putting an extra tax on “proof spirits.” I am shocked, and a little disappointed, that this tax was not the one that lead to the American Revolution. Anyway, to test if the spirit was a “proof spirit” they would soak gun powder in the liquid in question and attempt to light it on fire. If it caught fire, it was "proof" that it had a higher amount of alcohol. This method was severely flawed, and over time led to many governments developing their own proof measurement systems.
Here is a cool video of what testing the proof with gun powder looks like:
In the U.S., proof is double the ABV. Meaning, if the average ABV for liquor is 37%, it would be 74 proof. But to be defined as a “proof spirit,” it has to be 100 proof or 50% ABV. Pop quiz, going back to when I mentioned Bacardi 151 rum having an ABV of 75.5%, what is the proof?… Good job! The answer is 151. See what Bacardi did there, named the rum after it’s proof strength, cheeky. And if you are a pyrotechnically inclined, anything over 100 proof will ignite. Below is a cocktail recipe that will hopefully quench your thirst for fire. Disclaimer, we not responsible if you decide to commit arson with Wild Turkey 101.
Now lets put this information to work. My original premise was, how did I get more intoxicated from four martini’s than I did from a bottle of wine (4 glasses). Given that I had four vodka (40% ABV or 80 proof) martini's, each consisting of approximately 3 oz of vodka. 3 x .40 = 1.2 oz of alcohol per drink. Since I had four of them I consumed around 4.8 oz of alcohol that night at the bar. A bottle of wine has approximately 24 oz. 24 x .116(average ABV 11.6) = 2.8 oz of alcohol per bottle. Well I be damned, clearly not the same thing. No wonder I couldn’t remember a thing from that night.
Scorpion (Smuggler's Cove)
3 oz fresh lime juice
4 oz fresh orange juice
1.5 oz Demerara syrup
2 oz Orgeat
2 oz Pierre ferrand 1840 cognac
4 oz Beefeater gin
4 oz Cana Brava rum
Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin without ice and roll. Then add ice and blend with a drink mixer for 3 seconds. Pour contents into 4-person ceramic Scorpion Bowl.
Garnish by soaking plain bread crouton in pure lemon extract or 151 rum. Rest crouton on a lime wheel floating on the surface of the drink and ignite. Shake a little cinnamon-nutmeg blend on flame for dramatic effect.
p.s. please be careful.