Liquors and Liqueurs

Liquors and Liqueurs

TIDBIT Generally speaking, liquor is any alcoholic beverage produced by distillation (gin, vodka, bourbon, Scotch). Liqueur is a sweetened spirit (brandy, rum or whiskey) variously flavored with seeds, flowers, fruits, herbs, nuts, spices, and so on.

? The word ?proof? on a liquor or liqueur bottle specifies the amount of alcohol that a potable contains. In the United States, the proof is exactly twice the percentage of alcohol. Therefore, a bottle labeled ?86 Proof? contains 43 percent alcohol.

? Moderate alcohol consumption is considered to be two drinks per day. A ?drink? has been standardized as 1/2 ounce of pure (100 percent) alcohol, meaning a moderate drinker can consume 1 ounce of pure alcohol a day. This makes a difference in the volume consumed per serving, since the percentage of alcohol in beer is much lower than that in whiskey. In general, two ?drinks? a day breaks down as follows: 1 ounce of 100-proof (50 percent alcohol) liquor; 11/4 ounces of 80-proof (40 percent alcohol) liquor; 3 ounces of fortified wine (161/2 percent alcohol) like sherry or port; 4 ounces of (12 1/2 percent alcohol) table wine; or 12 ounces of (4 percent alcohol) beer.

? Rubbing the rim of a bottle with waxed paper keeps it from dripping.

? Keeping liquors such as Scotch and bourbon refrigerated means your mixed drinks won?t dilute as fast when poured over ice cubes.

? For drinks to be shaken or stirred with ice (such as a Martini), don?t refrigerate the liquor?some dilution with melted ice is necessary for the proper balance and texture.

? Buy miniature bottles of liquor or liqueur if you need only a little for cooking.

? Like your brandy warm on a cold winter night? Microwave it in the glass (make sure it isn?t lead crystal) on high for about 10 seconds.

? Though it has long been thought that alcohol evaporates when heated, a USDA study has disproved that theory. In fact, from 5 to 85 percent alcohol may remain in a cooked dish, depending on various factors, including how the food was heated, the cooking time and the source of the alcohol. Even the smallest trace of alcohol may be ill-advised for alcoholics and those with alcohol-related illnesses.

? Alcohol freezes at a much lower temperature than other liquids like water and milk, which means that a frozen dessert (such as ice cream) that contains too much alcohol won?t freeze properly.

? Moderation is the key when adding liquor to food. Start with a little?you can always add more.

? After adding liquor to a dish, allow enough cooking time to remove the alcohol?s harsh taste. That only takes about 3 minutes in a boiling mixture, but can take up to 30 minutes in one that?s simmering or baking.

? Full-bodied potables contribute more flavor than their lighter counterparts. For example, use dark or golden rum rather than light rum, gold tequila instead of white (or silver) tequila and dark beer (which, of course, isn?t ?liquor?) over light beer.