Raise the Bar Q&A

David Wolowidnyk A Certified Specialist of Spirits and a founder of the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association, David is an influential veteran in Canada’s cocktail culture. Email taste.magazine@bcliquorstores.com for the opportunity to have your questions answered by an expert.

What is the difference between “ABV” and “proof”? “ABV” (alcohol by volume) and “proof” are two different measures of the alcohol content in a beverage. ABV measures the alcohol content as a percentage of the total liquid volume, whereas proof is calculated by doubling the ABV value. For example, a spirit that is 40 percent ABV would be 80 proof. The term “proof” dates back to 18 th century England but is now rarely used outside the US. There, regulation permits, but does not require, a statement of proof, provided it is printed near the ABV number.

Why are bitter cocktails so popular? Bitter cocktails have gained popularity thanks to their intriguing flavours and an appreciation for complex taste experiences. The bitter element—often derived from ingredients like bitters, amaros or herbal liqueurs—adds a distinct and refreshing dimension to the drink. Bitterness can balance the sweetness in cocktails, creating a harmonious and well-rounded flavour profile. Additionally, bitter cocktails are known to stimulate the appetite and aid in digestion, making them an appealing choice for cocktail enthusiasts. The resurgence of classic cocktail culture and the desire for unique, contemporary combinations have contributed to the enduring popularity of bitter cocktails.

What does “fat washing” a spirit mean?

Fat washing is a technique used to impart flavour and texture from fats into a spirit by leveraging the fat-soluble properties of alcohol. The process involves combining a high-fat ingredient, such as butter, bacon, coconut oil or olive oil, with a spirit and then leaving them to infuse for 24 to 48 hours. The mixture is then placed in the freezer to solidify the undissolved fat so that it can be strained and discarded. When sipped or used in a cocktail, the fat- washed spirit will coat the palate, influencing and extending the flavour experience. Note that all fat can spoil eventually, so it is best to refrigerate fat-washed spirits and use them within one to two weeks. To put this method to practical use, check out the recipes in the Bar Star article on page 40.



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