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The dash

In recipes, the quantities of ingredients are repeatedly given in dashes without a precise definition of what is meant by this. Has this always been the case? What exactly is a dash, has its definition changed over time? Can we define exactly what quantity is behind it?

Precise measuring of the ingredients is essential when making drinks so that they turn out evenly and equally perfectly. As a rule, a measuring cup in the form of a jigger is used to measure out the correct quantities. However, it should be noted that due to the meniscus, i.e. the curvature of the filled liquid caused by interfacial tension, an inaccuracy occurs. [7]In relation to the measured amount of liquid, however, this inaccuracy will be negligible, at least for larger volumes, as this deviation will not have a noticeable influence on the taste result.

For smaller quantities, as used in bitters, one helps oneself with bottles with special tops in order to be able to dispense the quantities in a controlled manner. The question now is: How precisely is this possible? Especially with small quantities, deviations in quantity will be noticeable in the taste and precise dosing is therefore even more important.

Unfortunately, the volume of the Dash dispensed from the bottle is dependent on numerous influencing variables. It depends on the degree of filling of the bottle, the size of the bottle opening, the thrust applied by the bartender and the angle at which the bottle is held. [1] [2] [4] [5]

With normal Bitters bottles, experiments show that with a 10 ounce Angostura bottle, the first dash is about half the size of the second. From this second dash, about 32 dashes go into 30 ml; in a 4.5 ounce Peychaud’s bottle it was less, likewise in a 4 ounce Angostura bottle. 32 Dashes to 30 ml gives an amount per Dash of about 0.94 ml. [1]

Another study by Don Lee also found that different bottles of bitters gave different amounts per dash. With a 10 ounce Angostura bottle filled to 80%, an average of 41 Dashes gave the amount of 30 ml, with Regan’s or Peychaud’s Bitters it was 30 Dashes, with a 90 ml Japanese Bitters bottle 150 Dashes. 1 dash thus varies between 0.2 ml and 1 ml in these experiments. [4] [5]

It is also important to consider when a bottle was produced. For example, Jeffrey Morgenthaler reported in 2007 that he had been told by employees of the Angostura company that a few years earlier, sales had increased by 30% due to the enlargement of the bottle opening. [3]

In order to always add equal amounts of bitters, one could help oneself with a pipette and add the bitters drop by drop. However, this is time-consuming and therefore not very practical. In addition, it is not possible to achieve unambiguity here either. This is because the indication in drops is too imprecise. The actual size of a drop that comes out of a pipette depends on the interfacial tension between the cannula and the liquid, the cohesion of the liquid, the shape of the opening and the adhesion of the drop to the material of the tip of the dispensing device. The variations are considerable. For aqueous solutions, 15 to 20 drops are often given as corresponding to one millilitre, a raindrop can contain up to one millilitre. [6]

Japanese bitters bottles are a good alternative. They are exceptionally accurate, [4] but dispense much smaller dashes. So at least the volume of a dash is always consistent, albeit depending on the shape of the bottle opening. The quantity itself is still unclear. Would a look at historical books help here?

Unfortunately, the information from historical books also varies greatly. We can find the following information:

1922 Robert Vermeire: Cocktails. How to Mix Them. Seite 9-10.

1 dash = 1/3 teaspoon = 1.32 to 1.48 ml

1933 Anonymus: O’Dell’s Book of Cocktails. Seite 33.

1 dash = 1/3 teaspoon

1933 Anonymus: The Bartender’s Friend. Seite 5.

1 dash = 20 drops = 1.25 ml

1933 William Guyer: The Merry Mixer. Seite 18.

1 dash = 1/3 teaspoon

1934 American Traveling Mixologists (Charles C. Mueller, Al Hoppe Sr., A. V. Guzman & James Cunningham): Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars, Seite 17.

1 dash = 1/8 ounce = about 3.7 ml

1934 Anonymus: 100 Famous Cocktails. Seite 22.

1 dash = 1/3 teaspoon

1934 Anonymus: The Complete Bartender’s Guide. Seite 5.

1 dash = 20 drops

1935 Adrian: Cocktail Fashions of 1936. Seite 31.

1 dash = 5 drops

1935 Anonymus: The Art of Mixing Drinks. Seite 44.

1 dash = 1/3 teaspoon = 1/24 ounces

1936 Anonymus: Cocktails and Appetizers. Seite 8.

1 dash = 1/2 teaspoon

1938 Hyman Gale & Gerald F. Marco: The How and When. Seite 87.

1 dash = 20 drops = 1/4 teaspoon

1940 Anonymus: Professional Mixing Guide. Seite 11.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/48 ounces

1940 Anonymus: Recipes. Seite 54.

1 dash = about 4 drops

1940 Crosby Gaige: Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide. Seite 207.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/48 ounces

1941 W. C. Whitfield: Here’s How. Seite 70.

1 dash = 1/3 teaspoon

1943 Oscar Haimo: Cocktail Digest. Seite 18.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon

1940 Crosby Gaige: The Standard Cocktail Guide. Seite 24.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/48 ounces

1944 Oscar Haimo: Cocktail Digest. Seite 24.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/48 ounces

1946 Oscar Haimo: Cocktail and Wine Digest. Seite 28.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/48 ounces

1946 Trader Vic: Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink. Seite 32.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/48 ounces.

1948 David A. Embury, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, Seite 21-22.

1 dash = 10 drops = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/32 ounce = about 0.92 ml

1949 Wilhelm Stürmer: Cocktails by William, Seite 149:

1 Schuß = 1 dash = 1/3 dram = 1/24 oz = about 1.23 ml

1951 Anonymus: The Holiday Drink Book. Seite 4.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon

1953 Charles H. Baker: The South American Gentleman’s Companion. Seite 15.

1 dash = 3 drops, 1/6 teaspoon or 1/3 teaspoon

1951 Ted Saucier: Ted Saucier’s Bottoms Up. Seite 12.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/48 ounces

1953 S. S. Field: The American Drinking Book. Seite 208.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/48 ounces

1956 Patrick Gavin Duffy: The Official Mixer’s Manual. Seite xiii.

1 dash = 1/32 ounces

1965 Anonymus: John de Kuyper’s Complete Guide to Cordials. Seite 60.

1 dash = 4 to 6 drops

1965 Robert London & Anne London: Cocktails and Snacks. Seite 12.

1 dash = 3 drops

1966 Oscar Haimo: Cocktail and Wine Digest. Seite 28.

1 dash = 1/16 ounces

1972 Leo Cotton: Old Mr. Boston. Seite 120.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/32 ounces

1973 Anonymus: 500 Ways to Mix Drinks. Seite 2.

1 dash = 6 drops = 1/4 teaspoon = 1/24 ounces

1973 Oscar Haimo: Cocktail and Wine Digest. Seite 28.

1 dash = 1/32 ounces

1976 Brian F. Rea – Brian’s Booze Guide. Seite 22.

1 dash = 1/6 teaspoon = 1/32 ounces

2011 Cocktailian 1: Helmut Adam, Jens Hasenbein, Bastian Heuser, Cocktailian 1, Das Handbuch der Bar. 2. Auflage, 2011. Seite 59.

1 dash = 1/32 ounce = bout 0.92 ml

So we are left to our own judgment as to exactly how big a dash is. The specifications in the books range from 0.92 ml to 3.7 ml. Generally speaking, we can say that a Dash is generally understood to be a little less than 1 ml. The use of Japanese bitters bottles is recommended, as these always release equal amounts. However, it must be taken into account that they release much smaller amounts than ordinary bitters bottles. The nerd will therefore have no choice but to use identical bitters bottles and then try to determine how many Dashes from these bottles must be used to achieve an optimal taste experience.

Sources
  1. http://eldoradobar.blogspot.de/2010/01/to-be-dash-or-not-to-be-dash-ranting-of.html To Be a Dash, Or Not to Be a Dash… The Ranting of a Cocktail Nerd. 1. Juni 2010.
  2. http://www.thekitchn.com/when-it-comes-to-cocktails-whats-in-a-dash-behind-the-bar-218109 Cocktail Conundrums: How Much Is Actually In a Dash?
  3. http://www.adashofbitters.com/2007/03/03/how-much-is-a-dash/ How much is a dash? 3. March 2007.
  4. http://www.alcademics.com/2010/04/dashing-don-lee-and-greg-boehms-old-tools.html Camper English: Dashing Don Lee and Greg Boehm’s Old Tools, 12. April 2010.
  5. http://www.alcademics.com/2013/04/cocktail-science-with-don-lee-and-mike-ryan-at-tales-buenos-aires.html Camper English: Cocktail Science with Don Lee and Mike Ryan at Tales Buenos Aires. 29. April 2013.
  6. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropfen: Tropfen.
  7. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meniskus_%28Hydrostatik%29: Meniskus (Hydrostatik).
  8. Die historischen Bücher sind in unseren Beiträgen über historischen Bar-Bücher verzeichnet.
  9. David A. Embury: The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. New York, Doubleday & Co., 1948.
  10. Wilhelm Stürmer: Cocktails by WIlliam. Düsseldorf, Renaissance Verlag, 1949.
  11. Helmut Adam, Jens Hasenbein, Bastian Heuser: Cocktailian 1. Das Handbuch der Bar. 2. Auflage, ISBN 978-3-941641- 41-9. Wiesbaden, Tre Torri Verlag, 2011.

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About

Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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