2011 is the International Year of Chemistry. So scientists at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim raised a glass. (Or a beaker.) And they celebrated as only chemists can—by carefully analyzing its contents. [Neil Da Costa, "Flavor chemistry of the "Bloody Mary" cocktail"]
The drink they dissected was the Bloody Mary, perhaps the world’s most chemically complex cocktail. A mix of tomato juice and vodka, along with lemon or lime, horseradish, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces, black pepper and celery salt, the Bloody Mary packs a punch. And it lights up nearly our entire range of taste receptors, giving us sweet, salty, sour and savory.
To find out the Bloody Mary’s secret, researchers shared one with a chromatograph, which identified the various compounds that contribute to the drink’s flavor and bouquet. The scientists turned up plenty of antioxidants, as well as a few bartending tips.
First, make it fresh. The acids in tomato juice can degrade the drink’s other ingredients. Also, make it cold—ice slows the degradation. Use the best tomato juice—the major source of flavor. But feel free to cheap out on the vodka. Its taste gets lost in the complex mix. In other words, chemists say to save the Grey Goose for other experiments.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]