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  • How to Pour a Pousse-café

    Pousse-café sounds horribly exotic. In truth, it’s nothing more than a layered drink, and it’s quite easy to accomplish. The results, when done well, are amazing to look at. To accomplish this, it requires a bit of knowledge of science, and a bit of skill.

    First, the knowledge – one of the properties of liquids includes something known as a specific gravity. As Wikipedia puts it “Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a reference substance.” For liquids, the reference substance is water. The higher the specific gravity of a liquid, the heavier it is. This property allows for different liquids to appear as if separate from one another.

    The spirits world is filled with a tremendous variation from alcohol to alcohol. Typically speaking, the more sugar and less alcohol, the higher the specific gravity. The lower the sugar and higher the alcohol, the smaller the density. So, in selecting your alcohols, you would want a variation between which alcohols you picked.

    So Step 1? Pick your alcohols that you wish to use in your drink.

    Step 2 – Pour your drinks from heaviest to lightest. The trick is to pour slowly off of the back of a teaspoon (or other similar surface that gains you some measure of control), onto either the side of the glass, or just above the previous layer. This does take some skill, but it’s not a difficult one to master. When I’ve tried it, it took me two attempts to get it right. I also found using a Martini glass helped immensely.

    Here’s the specific gravity of some of the more popular liquors out there, along with their flavors and colors:

    Specific Gravity 1.18
    Crème de banane (banana): Gold
    Crème de cassis (black currant): Blood Red

    Specific Gravity 1.17
    Anisette (licorice): Clear

    Specific Gravity 1.16
    Crème de menthe – colored – (mint): Green
    Grenadine (pomegranate): Orange-red

    Specific Gravity 1.15
    Crème de cacao – colored – (chocolate): Brown
    Crème de menthe – uncolored – (mint): Clear
    Kahlúa (coffee): Dark Brown

    Specific Gravity 1.14
    Crème de cacao – uncolored – (chocolate): Clear
    Maraschino (cherry): Clear

    Specific Gravity 1.13
    Parfait d’armour (Rose/Orange/Vanilla): Violet

    Specific Gravity 1.12
    Cherry Liqueur (cherry): Dark Red
    Crème de noyaux (almond): Bright Red
    Strawberry Liqueur (strawberry): Pink/Red

    Specific Gravity 1.11
    Blue Curaçao (orange): Blue
    Gallioano (vanilla-orange): Amber

    Specific Gravity 1.10
    Amaretto (almond): Amber
    Blackberry Liqueur (blackberry): Dark Red
    orange Curaçao (orange): Orange

    Specific Gravity 1.09
    Apricot Liqueur (apricot): Orange
    Cranberry Liqueur (cranberry): Red
    Tia Maria (coffee-rum): Brown
    Triple Sec (orange): Clear

    Specific Gravity 1.08
    Drambuie (whisky/honey): Reddish Amber
    Frangelico (hazelnut): Brown
    Sambuca (licorice): Clear

    Specific Gravity 1.07
    Apricot Brandy (apricot): Amber
    Blackberry Brandy (blackberry): Purple-Red
    Campari (herbal/bitters): Bright Red

    Specific Gravity 1.06
    Cherry Brandy (cherry): Purple-Red
    Peach Brandy (Peach): Yellow-Orange
    Yellow Chartreuse (herbal): Bright Yellow

    Specific Gravity 1.05
    Midori (melon): Green
    Kümmel (sweet Caraway, cumin, fennel): Clear
    Peach Schnapps (peach): Clear

    Specific Gravity 1.04
    Sloe Gin (plum/sloe): Purple-Red
    Brandy (Brandy): Amber
    Cointreau (orange peel): Clear
    Peppermint Schnapps (peppermint): Clear

    Specific Gravity 1.01
    Green Chartreuse (herbal): Green

    Specific Gravity 1.00

    Specific Gravity 0.98
    Tuaca (brandy-vanilla): Amber

    Specific Gravity 0.97
    Southern Comfort (bourbon-fruit): Amber-Orange

    Specific Gravity 0.94
    Kirsch (cherry): clear

    (PHOTO CREDIT: From RNAlexander via the Creative Commons license)

    Tags: bartending, Pousse-café, Tips and Tricks