|The copper-plated items from Sainsbury's with the ingredients for a White Lady
What was the thinking here? In truth I suspect it is just meant to look fancy: Cocktail Kingdom also do silver- and gold-plated equipment. And let’s not forget that none other than Jerry Thomas himself, once he got rich and famous, adorned both himself and his bar tools with precious metals and jewels.
But I couldn’t help wondering what effect the copper might have on the drinks being made. Gold is famously unreactive, as is the stainless steel that this equipment is made out of. But copper, like aluminium, is reactive. In fact I have a copper bowl designed expressly for whipping egg whites, as the copper is said to react with the egg and help to stiffen it. And given that cocktails often involve some acidic ingredients, would contact with the copper give the drink a metallic taste?
|Two White Ladies
I can’t say that I detected a metallic taste in the cocktail made with the copper shaker. Initially I didn’t fine-strain, and the drink from the copper shaker had a different texture because it actually had small pieces of ice in it—perhaps I unconsciously shook that one harder? After fine straining the two drinks I actually felt that the drink from the steel shaker had a richer texture, though Mrs H. said she couldn’t tell them apart.
|The cap and shoulder of the shaker are copper-plated on the inside too, while the body is not
The result? Nothing that I can detect. Copper is widely used for making stills in the distilling industry because it is said to absorb sulphurous impurities, so clearly it is viewed as a reactive component in the presence of alcohol. But it doesn’t seem to affect the taste of cocktails at the end-user stage.
|You can see the ice particles in the cocktail
on the left (click to enlarge)
|Note the extra slots around the side of the strainer on the right. Even though the holes are smaller
it pours more quickly and smoothly than the copper one
* Japanese bar legend Kazuo Uyeda, also a fan of the Manhattan shaker, doesn’t fine-strain his cocktails as he says he likes the fine ice particles in the drink.