Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to Make a Layered Drink

Layered drinks were very popular at the turn of the 20th century, with many multi-colored and complex drinks being served in major establishments.  The more layers you could add, the more impressive the drink was, and the more money it could make.  In the hopes that your next party would benefit from a little extra something in the presentation department, here is the method to building your own layered drinks.

Layering is density dependent. Any solution has a specific density. Those with higher density sink through those with lighter densities, and the lighter density solutions will tend to remain floating above the high density liquids. Thus the key to knowing how the layers will turn out is by consulting a density chart.

The problem with alcohols is that many of them have densities that are very similar. This means that layers won't form if there is too much mixing or turbulence, and therefore, layering has to be done very slowly and very carefully.

The common technique today is to pour the liquor slowly over the back of a spoon, touching the side of the glass. This allows the liquor to trickle into the drink without too much downward disturbance, and settle nicely upon the top of the drink.


Density Chart


Everclear (95% ABV) 0.80
Everclear (75% ABV) 0.84
Southern Comfort 0.97
Tuaca 0.98
Water 1.00
Green Chartreuse 1.01
Cointreau 1.04
Peach Schnapps 1.04
Sloe gin 1.04
Kummel 1.04
Peppermint schnapps 1.04
Benedictine 1.04
Brandy 1.04
Midori melon liqueur 1.05
Rock and Rye 1.05
Apricot brandy 1.06
Blackberry brandy 1.06
Cherry brandy 1.06
Peach brandy 1.06
Campari 1.06
Yellow Chartreuse 1.06
Benedictine 1.07
Drambuie 1.08
Frangelico 1.08
Orange Curacao 1.08
Triple sec 1.09
Tia maria 1.09
Apricot liqueur 1.09
Blackberry liqueur 1.10
Amaretto 1.10
Blue Curacao 1.11
Cherry liqueur 1.12
Galliano 1.11
Green Crème de Menthe 1.12
White Crème de Menthe 1.12
Strawberry liqueur 1.12
Parfrait d'Amour 1.13
Coffee liqueur 1.13
Crème de Banana 1.14
Dark Crème de Cacao 1.14
White Crème de Cacao 1.14
Kahlua 1.15
Crème de Almond 1.16
Crème de Noyaux 1.17
Anisette 1.17
Grenadine 1.18
Crème de Cassis 1.18

Add your most dense ingredient first. Then place a teaspoon upside down into the glass, up against the edge of the glass and close to the surface of the drink. Slowly pour the next heaviest liqueur over the back of the spoon. Raise the spoon slowly if necessary. Continue with each ingredient, ending with the least dense.

Bruce Kingsford is a fan of layered drinks.  He hopes that the knowledge given here will make you a fan as well.  The Editor applauds this endeavor, but wishes it had been more timely, as always.

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