What good is all those fancy chemistry lab equipments if you can't benefit humanity, say by improving our cocktails? Analytic chemist Neil Da Costa decided to dissect the chemistry behind making the perfect Bloody Mary:
With gas and liquid chromatography, Da Costa isolated the wide variety of compounds that give the bloody mary its unique flavor. The drink covers much of the taste spectrum: sweet, salty, sour and umami — the savory taste of glutamic acid.
And, Da Costa says, the order of these sensations is appealing: first cool and refreshing, then spicy, and finally a sinus-clearing horseradish kick.
So what lessons can amateur bartenders glean from all this analysis? Make it fresh and make it cool, Da Costa says. Many of the ingredients are chemically unstable, so it's important to make your bloody mary from fresh ingredients and keep it iced to prevent deterioration.