What happens when you bring together a thirsty and fun-loving group of the public and a chemist with a deep interest in alcoholic beverages together? Answer: …A night many might not remember, but nevertheless, utterly intriguing and fun! The science of Cocktails event took place last Friday, all punters leaving happy!
75 people who came dressed to impress, packed in to the Common Room in University House, situated in the Students’ Union and learnt about where alcohol comes from, what gives vodka and whiskey their tastes, how to get the most out of your spirits, and how to make your own cocktail combinations… Though I thought it was all going to go downhill when the first slide of the presentation stated: ‘All alcohol is poisonous’. Quite true, we don’t condone binge drinking, but everything in moderation! The night ended, quite appropriately, on a look at what hangovers are, and how to avoid them.
Throughout the night, attendees were invited to taste, smell and mix drinks for themselves, starting the night off with a fizz in the shape of a lovely champagne and brandy-based cocktail, comparing vodkas, whiskey tasting, making a screwdriver, ending the night on a proper Irish coffee. The hangover advice being handy… I’m told…
There’s no doubt that our rather dapper host for the night, Noel Jackson, trained chemist, Head of Education and resident mixologist from the Centre for Life up in Newcastle, knew his stuff! Having come up with the Cocktail Hour after thinking of ways to engage 18-30s with science. The answer seemed to be sex, drugs and rock’n'roll! Aside from the insight in to the chemistry of alcohol production for example (did you know your cheap vodka comes from oil refinery!), there were countless insights in to the history, aetiology, sociology and geography of cocktails and various spirits! An extremely eye-opening and sometimes mind-blowing experience.
Organised by our ever-wonderful secretary Tacita Nye, and supported by the committee and our volunteers, it went fantastically, so I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Tacita and Noel for making it so enjoyable, and all the hard-work that our volunteers did to make it the success it was.
“The evening was a perfect balance of science and everyone’s favourite pastime – drinking!” Tacita said in summary of the night, her favourite part was when attendees mixed up their own screwdrivers, “there really were some interesting combinations!”
One of our past committee members made the trip up from London and broadcast this via twitter:
Science of cocktails w/ @scibrainwaves was great, but definitely feeling a bit worse for wear now!
Jon Banks, a self-confessed whiskey lover who attended the event, left us this message on our Facebook:
“Thanks Brainwaves for an awesome night of science and cocktails! I learned all about distilling, hangovers, and why you should always drink scotch with water! I even remember some of it!”
We also tested out our budding mixologists’ knowledge by doing the Big Cocktail Quiz – three lucky winners took home some wine and some guides and recipe books on cocktails, to carry on the fun when they got home.
This was our first ever adult-only night. Usually we’re out and about ranting and raving about the awesomeness of science to anyone who will listen! We’re really pleased it was so successful, in fact, watch this space for a botanics of Gin night! Whilst we had to charge entry for this event to cover the costs of alcohol and so on, we were extremely grateful to all the donations that people generously gave us so that we can continue to put on free events, for children, families and, well, everyone!
Thanks to Ron Adams for taking pictures on the night, and some of the attendees; Adam Dobson, Paul Clarkin and Beany Rosic, for sending in their pics!