7.25.12 Carbon(ated) Copy

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photos by gluttonforlife
David Mamet has written some great plays with plenty of memorable dialogue, but the line of his that sticks with me is a deceptively mundane one from a slightly camp film, The Edge. It stars Alec Baldwin as a smarmy fashion photographer and Anthony Hopkins as an intellectual billionaire thrust together in the Alaskan wilderness. After their plane crashes, the two of them—who mix it up like oil and water—are pitted against a gargantuan Grizzly that's out for their blood. Hopkins is amazingly resourceful and when faced with the seemingly insurmountable task of outrunning the bear, says only, What one man can do, another can do. Meaning survive, in this case, I'm guessing.

It's a reassuring thought, isn't it? A reminder that determination and force of will are sometimes all you need to level the playing field. When confronting fear, this has become a sort of mantra for me. It's handy even in the face of small challenges, like recreating the wonderfully refreshing carbonated Americanos we enjoyed at Clyde Common in Portland. Essentially a ready-to-quaff Italian-style aperitivo—Campari and sweet vermouth with an orange peel twist—these house-made and -bottled cocktails were a real revelation, and G pined for them back in New York. So what's a DIYer to do? It's not like barman extraordinaire Jeffrey Morgenthaler doesn't have the full set of instructions up on his website.
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bubble up
The first hurdle presented itself when I discovered that Morgenthaler's carbonator of choice, the iSi Twist'n'Sparkle, has been taken off the market. I'm surmising there were a few too many unwanted explosions at home. But after much surfing of the web and biting of the knuckles, I decided to try the unfortunately named Fizz Giz (that's a hard "g," people; henceforth referred to only as FG, for obvious reasons.) It's a simple device that is essentially a vehicle for injecting CO2 into liquids. It works with a plastic soda bottle, like what you might buy filled with club soda. You empty that out, fill it with your chilled liquid of choice (CO2 is much more soluble in cold liquid than warm) and replace the lid with the FG's, which has a small nipple opening. After inserting a food-grade CO2 cartridge (FG also sells a refillable one) into the clip, you poke the FG's thin tip into the nipple opening, tilt the bottle so the tip is in contact with the liquid and press the button on the FG. CO2 instantly begins gushing into the bottle! You do this a couple, three times, shaking vigorously in between, and voilà! you've got bubbles!

You can watch a video of this happening, here. (Nothing ever made me want to start making my own videos quite as much as this one.) Or watch Morgenthaler, here.
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what a gas: i think of these as magic bullets
Once your liquid is carbonated, your next move is to pour it into smaller bottles. I used these, as recommended by Morgenthaler, and they worked perfectly. Other tips for a successful tranfer: Use a funnel, and make sure ahead of time that it's small enough to fit through the neck of the bottle. Also, go to a plastics supply store and get a piece of clear rubber tubing that fits snugly around the end of the funnel and extends to just above the bottom of the bottle. It's not essential, but this allows you to fill the bottle from the bottom up, thus avoiding the formation of a big head of foam. If it all seems like a big, scary undertaking, let me just point out that it's not climbing Everest. (OK, it is a little butch.) But the reward is enormous. After all, if I can do it, so can you.
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the capper
The capper is a ridiculously simple way to seal your bottles. That little round thing in the center has a magnet that holds the lids in place. You simply place it on top of the bottle and clamp the two handles down. That's it. Since I wanted to lose as little carbonation as possible, I poured and capped each bottle individually, and I really think that's the way to go.
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put a lid on it
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a is for americano
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bottoms up
One of the great things about these Americanos is that they require neither ice nor glass. They're ideal sipped from the bottle and, at a recent party, I saw one pal down at least 8. (Yes, he has a hollow leg. No, he didn't drive home.) The perfect combination of bitter and sweet, they are light, refreshing and, paradoxically, rather more Italian than American. Think of them as domestic bliss in a bottle.

P.S. Don't forget to leave a comment here by this Sunday to be eligible for a lovely GFL care package of summer jams!

Americano in a Bottle

makes 24 ounces; enough for 4 servings
  • — 6 ounces sweet vermouth (Dolin, Cinzano or Martini & Rossi are all good choices)
  • — 4.5 ounces Campari
  • — 13.5 ounces filtered water
  • — zest of 1 orange peeled with vegetable peeler intro long strips

Combine Campari, sweet vermouth and water. Squeeze orange peels into the liquid to express the essential oils, then drop them into the mixture. Refrigerate overnight or until thoroughly chilled.

Strain out orange peels. Pour into specified bottle and carbonate with your Fizz Giz. Using a funnel (or a very steady hand), ecant into individual bottles and cap.

Serve well chilled. Store bottles in the fridge so they'll be at the ready. They should keep indefinitely.

Download recipe  Download Recipe


wow Laura, awesome. love "what one man can do, another can do" needed that today!
Kathleen on July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm —
Today and every day, Kathleen!
laura on July 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm —
Love everything about this post, top to bottom. And by the way, did you know Shoshanna on "Girls" is Mamet's daughter?
Lisa on July 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm —
I did know that—she's the child of David Mamet and his first wife, actress Lindsay Crouse!
laura on July 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm —
Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. O what a relief it is!
Roy on July 30, 2012 at 7:20 am —