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5 Drinking Games of Yore

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Who knew drinking games had such a long and sozzled history? The following are just a few of the stranger games we stumbled into while trying to justify all the kegs in our office.

1. The Dreaded Puzzle Jug

First designed in 1300's France, the puzzle jug was basically created to test the mental agility of people hopped up on happy juice. More importantly, it was an easy way to make drunks look like idiots. The jugs were filled with wine, but also covered with holes. If a genius didn't tilt the jug in exactly the right way, and cover up the right holes, the contents would spill all over him. In addition to the laugh factor, barflies often gambled on whether a new drunk had the mental chops to get the wine from the jug into their mouth. But since the contents more than often ended up on the victim's shirt, the jugs remained a popular bar room feature for the next 400 years.

2. Bloody Fun

Back in 17th century England, drinking and drunkenness was heavily linked to swearing your political allegiance. Much in the way, you'd hug your friends deep into the night and say, "I love you so much, man," roaring Royalists used to one-up their friends in declaring allegiance to the king by putting their arses on the line. Literally. After singing drunken ballads to His Highness and the church, festivities would often escalate to playing a "game" where everyone who was loyal enough would slice off a piece of their rump, and then toast their own blood (instead of wine) to the monarchy. As you can imagine, the game went horribly wrong on a fairly regular basis, seeing how drunks wielding knives and performing elective surgery on themselves is never a good idea.

3. When in Rome

After important dinners, Romans used to indulge in convivium, which were more of an Emily Post endurance test than a game. The rules of etiquette were simple, but strict. Namely, the host determined how much everyone was going to drink (anywhere from 1 to 11 glasses of the good stuff). Then everyone drank in a ritualized form. And while staying in the contest didn't actually get you that much (except the buzz), being kicked out was a huge deal. If you couldn't keep up, couldn't down your drink in one pull, refused a beverage, or let out a burp during the festivities, you'd essentially be banned from hanging out at future convivium. And since only movers and shakers got to participate, a faux pas meant being demoted from sitting at the cool kids' table.

4. Poo-bum-dickie

Still played today, poo-bum-dickie isn't exactly ancient, but it is definitely based on antiquated counting. The game basically involves counting in a circle in Roman numerals, using the word "poo" for I, "bum" for V, and "dickie" for X (until you get to 39, at least). Of course, if anyone says the wrong word, hesitates for too long, or giggles, the penalty is to drink. The game got slightly stranger when some students in Essex changed the phrases to "No", "Daddy" and "Don't Touch Me."

5. Flicking Wine

Like an ancient version of beer pong, one of the most popular games in ancient Greece was kottabos, where participants flicked the dregs of a cup at a target in the middle of the room. Not only were you judged on whether the droplets hit the target (which was generally a disk balanced on a thin stand), but also if you used the correct throwing motion. Prizes, like baked goods and smooches from servers, were awarded for hitting the mark, while improvised penalties (along with copious drinking) were assigned for missing. According to one source, many Greeks "took as much pride in playing kottabos as others did in hurling the javelin."

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science
Why Adding Water to Your Whiskey Makes It Taste Better
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Don’t ever let people tease you for watering down your whiskey. If they’re true aficionados, they’ll know that adding a splash of water or a few cubes of ice to your drink will actually enhance its natural flavors. But how can something as flavorless as water make a barrel-aged scotch or bourbon taste even better? Chemists think they’ve found the answer.

As The Verge reports, researchers from the Linnæus University Centre for Biomaterials Chemistry in Sweden analyzed the molecular composition of whiskey in the presence of water. We already know that the molecule guaiacol is largely responsible for whiskey’s smoky taste and aroma. Guaiacol bonds to alcohol molecules, which means that in straight whiskey that guaiacol flavor will be fairly evenly distributed throughout the cask. Alcohol is repelled by water, and guaiacol partially so. That means when a splash of water is added to the beverage the alcohol gets pushed to the surface, dragging the guaiacol along with it. Concentrated at the top of the glass, the whiskey’s distinctive taste and scent is in the perfect position to be noticed by the drinker.

According to the team’s experiments, which they laid out in the journal Scientific Reports [PDF], whiskey that’s been diluted down to 40 percent to 45 percent alcohol content will start to show more guaiacol sloshing near the surface. Most commercial whiskey is already diluted before it's bottled, so the drink you order in a bar should fall within this range to begin with. Adding additional water or ice will boost the flavor-enhancing effect even further.

As for just how much water to add, the paper doesn’t specify. Whiskey lovers will just have to conduct some experiments of their own to see which ratios suit their palate.

[h/t NPR]

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Big Questions
If Beer and Bread Use Almost the Exact Same Ingredients, Why Isn't Bread Alcoholic?
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If beer and bread use almost the exact same ingredients (minus hops) why isn't bread alcoholic?

Josh Velson:

All yeast breads contain some amount of alcohol. Have you ever smelled a rising loaf of bread or, better yet, smelled the air underneath dough that has been covered while rising? It smells really boozy. And that sweet smell that fresh-baked bread has under the yeast and nutty Maillard reaction notes? Alcohol.

However, during the baking process, most of the alcohol in the dough evaporates into the atmosphere. This is basically the same thing that happens to much of the water in the dough as well. And it’s long been known that bread contains residual alcohol—up to 1.9 percent of it. In the 1920s, the American Chemical Society even had a set of experimenters report on it.

Anecdotally, I’ve also accidentally made really boozy bread by letting a white bread dough rise for too long. The end result was that not enough of the alcohol boiled off, and the darned thing tasted like alcohol. You can also taste alcohol in the doughy bits of underbaked white bread, which I categorically do not recommend you try making.

Putting on my industrial biochemistry hat here, many [people] claim that alcohol is only the product of a “starvation process” on yeast once they run out of oxygen. That’s wrong.

The most common brewers and bread yeasts, of the Saccharomyces genus (and some of the Brettanomyces genus, also used to produce beer), will produce alcohol in both a beer wort
and in bread dough immediately, regardless of aeration. This is actually a surprising result, as it runs counter to what is most efficient for the cell (and, incidentally, the simplistic version of yeast biology that is often taught to home brewers). The expectation would be that the cell would perform aerobic respiration (full conversion of sugar and oxygen to carbon dioxide and water) until oxygen runs out, and only then revert to alcoholic fermentation, which runs without oxygen but produces less energy.

Instead, if a Saccharomyces yeast finds itself in a high-sugar environment, regardless of the presence of air it will start producing ethanol, shunting sugar into the anaerobic respiration pathway while still running the aerobic process in parallel. This phenomenon is known as the Crabtree effect, and is speculated to be an adaptation to suppress competing organisms
in the high-sugar environment because ethanol has antiseptic properties that yeasts are tolerant to but competitors are not. It’s a quirk of Saccharomyces biology that you basically only learn about if you spent a long time doing way too much yeast cell culture … like me.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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