High Pressure Batching! NYE Edition.

Happy New Years!

I thought I’d give a run down of my new years cocktail which I made with the amazing Champagne Bottle Manifold. I made six liters total.
Two magnums and four 750′s, plus a 375 ml for some of the spare liquid.

sparkling heirloom raspberry-lime rickey

2000ml Randall Grahm’s pacific rim framboise

666ml aperol
666ml blanco tequila
666ml lime juice
2000ml water

To chill everything as fast as possible I put the framboise in the refrigerator the night before and the aperol and tequila in the freezer (they have enough alcohol and/or sugar to not freeze). The water was stirred with ice to bring it down to just above freezing.

I then funneled the liquid into the bottles (mindful of the head space) and then put them in buckets of iced water. Assembling everything is pretty quick if you have the right containers and a nice space to spread out.

I aspired to have at least 7 g/L of dissolved gas in the drink to make it quite sparkling.

7 * .75 = 5.25 grams for a 750ml

7 * 1.5 = 10.5 grams for a 1.5 ml magnum

Soon I started making mistakes that should be easy to avoid if you are aware of them.

For mistake no. 1, the first 750 ml bottle was filled all the way to 750 ml which means that there was very little head space. This bottle took on gas at a miserably slow rate.

To correct mistake no. 1, for the second 750 ml bottle which was filled to 750ml I poured out about 2 ounces which drastically accelerated carbonation.

The magnums carbonated quickly. The head space in a magnum is quite large relative to the head space in a 750 so all the added surface area when you agitate the bottles sucks up gas quite quickly.

The first mistake was not leaving enough head space to carbonate fast and the second mistake was not topping up the bottles so they did not lose gas when they came to equilibrium under the cap. The bottles have to be over carbonated to a small degree to account for the compressed gas that will occupy the head space once the manifold is removed and a bottle cap is affixed. If you know the head space volume this amount of gas can be accurately measured. It can also be estimated quite easily.

To estimate how much gas occupies the head space:

1. Fill a bottle to your desired fill height with warm water so the gas does not start immediately dissolving into the water.

2. Set your regulator to 40 PSI (an estimate). We may carbonate at 65 PSI but the final pressure in the bottle at fridge temp is much closer to 40 PSI. If we understood the gas law better this could be more accurately measured.

3. Attache the cap and zero the scale. now add compressed gas to the bottle without agitating. If your head space is only something like 4 or 5 ounces, 0.6 grams may fit into the head space. This is a not insignificant percentage but can easily be accounted for by over carbonating, but keep in mind topping up the bottles is also an option.

The last mistake was with the temporary caps I chose. I did not want to haul my 29mm bottle capper to work so I used some horrible clip on champagne stoppers which apparently did not keep a good seal. A secure cap is very important. I will not use something I cannot count on again.

All the mistakes were easy to recover from. I simply freshened up the bottles before service by adding more dissolved gas. They were only down about a gram so it went quickly. The drink was a big hit and the ease of dispensing took a lot of the strain off serving so many cocktail crazed people. I loved that I could simply pour a taste for people that weren’t literate in the ingredients (the symbols!).

Next time it will be easier. I really enjoyed working with the magnum bottles. For the future I’m also going to add a y-adapter to my regulator so I can carbonate two bottles at one time (two hoses, two manifolds).  That way I can have two staff members bang out the prep in half the time.

3 thoughts on “High Pressure Batching! NYE Edition.

  1. Hi,

    first of all thank you for your blog, it’s seriously informative.
    I been been reading it with great interest.
    I have a few questions after reading;
    How long do your prebatched cocktails with citrus last with carbonation or with Nitrogen in the magnum bottles?
    Also what size caps and capping machine do you use?

    cheers

    Rob

  2. hi Rob.
    from the comments of this post: http://bostonapothecary.com/?p=460

    this is what i use to cap the bottles:
    http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/colonna-capper-corker.html
    i buy all my gas from airgas by M.I.T. and i think almost every city has one.
    this is the scale i use:
    http://www.oldwillknottscales.com/ohaus-taj4001.html
    it can do 4 kilo with a tenth of a gram resolution!
    here is a really affordable regulator if anyone needs one:
    http://www.chicompany.net/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=375_20_313_327&products_id=2668

    i’ve used other cheaper cappers but they flex a little and have a harder time making a perfect seal on the champagne bottle caps which are larger than regular caps.
    i’m only using CO2 in the magnum bottles and i’m venting the oxygen which is forced out of solution before i proceed with accumulating CO2. supposedly nitrogen can force CO2 out of solution and wine makers call the technique “nitro sparging”.
    i’ve had the drinks last for more than a month now with no significant oxidized aroma. they do however change and integrate. you cannot eliminate enzymatic bittering but it is built into the drink as a feature. the life span i wanted to achieve was only a little over a week. i’ve been using the reflux de-aeration technique on lemon juice at work and have been loving the results.

    any other questions send them my way.

    cheers! -stephen

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