Last week, I ended up getting sick. It sucked. I hate being sick. Especially stomach bugs. They are the worst. But, this particular tummy bug happened to coincide with a truly once in a generation weather event. (You might have heard that we in the upper midwest ended up having a bit of a cold snap last week.) Well, sick or not, I wasn’t about to waste the opportunity presented.
Let me back up a bit. When I was growing up in Northern Wisconsin the adults in my dad’s family had a tendency to drink. A lot. There were cases of beer outside chilling in the snow outside the back door of every winter family gathering. Even in temps well below freezing. Early on, I noticed that the sodas and water would start to freeze a bit faster than those beers did. Not knowing anything about thermodynamics and relative freezing points yet, I didn’t realize that the alcohol helped act as an antifreeze and that the snow acted as a refrigerator but also acted an insulator to help shield that beer from the worst effects of the negative temperatures. The waters and sodas meanwhile were just stuck outside the back door, where there wasn’t any snow and so it froze.
But once I grew up and started learning about these things, I started to realize why the hard liquor that they turned to as evening rolled around never seemed to freeze, even after the beer had started to get a bit slushy. And of course once I got to be a fan of that hard liquor myself, I always wanted to see if I could get that liquor to freeze.
Yes, I am a geek in almost every way you can imagine.
So, last week when the temps were forecasted to be in the “Oh God, please don’t go outside” range, there I was. Outside with one ounce plastic cups of bourbon of varying proofs to see what would happen.
So yeah! I froze bourbon! It was that fucking cold at my house. I hated it. It caused all sorts of havoc in my attic. The dogs started pooping in the house due to not wanting to go outside (can you blame them?). And ultimately I’m just thankful my gas company was able to keep up with my furnace.
I never want to feel those temperatures again. Touching something that is -30° F causes a slight tingling pain in your fingers that lasts a little while. Take it from me, it is stupid and dumb and you shouldn’t do it.
I did learn a little bit though. Here are some photos from after the sun came up to show what happened to each of the bourbons.
As you can see the 80° proof froze solid. It was a bourbon-pop minus the stick. I wouldn’t lick it though. At -30° F you’d probably frostbite your tongue. 90° proof was a little more solid, but had a bit of liquid. And 100° proof was the slushiest of them all. I found it interesting that most of the color and flavor stayed with the water and was locked in the ice. I wasn’t expecting that. And yes, I tasted it after blowing on it to warm it some. It was very odd. Not nearly as pleasurable as a nice glass of neat bourbon though.
All in all it was a fun experiment. I wouldn’t wish for the temperatures to perform it again though.
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