We mentioned thermal flow several times as part of discussions on keeping a drink cold. So I started wondering exactly what are the typical thermal paths for a Martini?
First lets understand that cold doesn’t exist, there is only the absence of heat. Heat flows from warm to cold… or from cold to colder. So to make a Martini cold you pull heat out of the fluid by using something colder; using cold ice when we shake (or stir) the Martini. We sometimes think its the other way around, so some of my comments below may seem backward.
So heat flows to warm your Martini, or other cocktail, in the following ways:
From the air, through the glass bowl, and into the liquid.
From the counter, table, or bar top into the stem and then up into the liquid.
When being held, through the fingers or hand into the glass and then into the drink. (Note that heat flow is inversely proportional to length, i.e., heat flows less, or slower, through a longer path. A tall stem will conduct less heat up through the glass into the Martini that a short squat, bulbous stem.)
So where does most of this drink warming heat come from? Without doing a complete thermodynamic model (I’ve thought about it), it seems pretty clear that it is from the surrounding air.
The thermal path up through the table is limited by a long thin stem. Heat from the hand is temporary, assuming your not holding the stem constantly. (See: “What’s the best way to hold the Martini?” for previous comments on how to hold your Martini.) Which leaves the air which is constantly in contact with the bowl of the Martini, as the significant culprit warming your martini.
So what’s the best solution? Other than moving to the Arctic or Antarctic, drinking in the freezer! Kidding aside, I’m stumped on this one. Surely drinking in an air conditioned bar will keep your drink colder than outside in the sun. But having a nice Martini on a deck over looking the beach is just marvelous.
Here are a couple suggestions to consider:
Hold the stem as little as possible and by the rim or stem of the glass,
Use a coaster; its a thermal insulator and will minimize heat flow up through the stem,
Keep the drink in the shade if you’re outside. No need adding the sun’s warmth to the liquid,
Use a Martini ‘coozie’???
OMG, did I really say that? Sacrilegious! I’ll suffer penance with a cold Martini….