Technically Saturday: How to Make the Perfect Water for Cocktails

How to Make the Perfect Water for CocktailsThis time it is all about the water.  And no, this isn’t a post about how it is necessary to save the oceans or whether there is enough clean water to support  the growing world population.  As important as this issues might be, this post is is about using the perfect water for your ice, syrups, and cocktails.  Once the ice starts melting, water can become up to 40% of the cocktail, but lucky for you the perfect water can be made in your own home!

The Perfect Water for cocktails
  • 2 liters distilled or purified water, divided
  • 1.5 grams magnesium chloride
  • 1 gram sodium bicarbonate
  • 1 gram calcium chloride

First off, all credit for this recipe goes to Kevin Liu.  Begin by filling two bottles with 1 liter of water.  In the first bottle add the magnesium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, and calcium chloride.  This will create a electrolyte solution which will help you make a large quantity of amazingly tasty water.  You need to add just 10 grams (2 tsps) of this solution to the other 1 liter of water to get the taste just right.  It’s that simple. But what are these chemicals and where can you get them?

Let’s start with the same simplest: sodium bicarbonate.  In simple English, we are talking about baking soda, which you can get at any grocery store.  The magnesium chloride can be purchased as a dietary supplement in both liquid and solid (pill) forms.  The solid forms can contain filler such as calcium, so go for the liquid in order to get the best taste.  Calcium chloride is a common agent in homebrewing so you should be able to find it online fairly easily.  The best part about all of these ingredients is that you only need a very little bit for each batch, so seal them all up after you make a batch and they will last a long time.  Or share them between your friends as there is plenty to go around.

So the message so far has been that you need special water and it is cheap and easy to make. But isn’t this just a scam like every other bottle of fancy water like Fiji water, Voss water, and all of the other forms of fortified spring water?  Well no actually, there is some science behind making a water that tastes good and won’t change the flavor of your cocktails.  You need a baseline presence of minerals to mimic the only thing that actually has no taste: saliva.  Now this might seem a bit gross, but think about it, it actually makes sense and if you want to read up on a bit more of the science there is a great article on seriouseats on why tap water may be ruining your homemade cocktails.

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Posted in Technically Saturday, Techniques
One comment on “Technically Saturday: How to Make the Perfect Water for Cocktails
  1. Hi, thanks for following me on Twitter! I am impressed with your articles on this site. Let’s keep in touch. If you are on Facebook, come check out my page at Cheers!

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Nick McAfee
Nick McAfee is a student of Princeton University and is passionate about mixology. As a student with a low monthly income, he has developed ways to create simple cocktails with complex flavors from inexpensive ingredients. Learn more about Nick and Broke & Thirsty.
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