Escrito por: Simon Difford
Muitos coquetéis acabam parecendo iguais. Aqueles com base em destilados leves e batidos com suco cítrico, tendem a ter uma aparência cinza esverdeada, por exemplo. Não se eles forem batidos com carvão. O carvão vegetal pode mudar drasticamente a aparência de um coquetel, tornando-o preto profundo. E sem as notas salgadas associadas à tinta de lula ou o azul dos tons negros que vêm de mirtilos.
Burn wood, coal, or most likely your toast, and you'll produce carbon. However, before any bright spark starts muddling barbeque charcoal, it should be made clear that all charcoal is not created equal. The stuff that is safe [SEE RISKS BELOW] to ingest, 'activated charcoal', is processed to be ultra-absorbent in hygienic conditions. Activated charcoal is made by heating in the presence of a gas, so causing the charcoal to develop lots of pores. This increases its surface area and makes the charcoal highly absorbent as it traps substances in those pores.
If you ever handled charcoal, you'll also know it's black and stains or marks pretty much everything it comes into contact with - including cocktails. While the change in a cocktail's colour due to the addition of charcoal is dramatic, the flavor is little changed besides being faintly smoky with a touch of added bitterness. Texturally, the change is more noticeable, leaving a distinct grittiness in the mouth.
On the extreme side of medical care, activated charcoal is used to treat drug overdoses or poisoning as drugs and toxins can be absorbed by the charcoal so helping the body naturally excrete these unwanted substances. Obviously, if you are poisoned don't try self-administering activated charcoal - call emergency services.
As a visit to your local health food store will illustrate, activated charcoal is also used to treat more mundane medical issues such as trapped gas and high cholesterol. Some even claim it can help prevent hangovers. As with drug overdoses, the theory is that it helps the body get rid of toxins and oxidants. However, like so many other items in the same store, research results tend to be inconclusive as to activated charcoal's health benefits.
No matter - just those perceived benefits mean bartenders can easily obtain activated charcoal in the form of easy to handle capsules. Simply cut the end of a single capsule with a pair of scissors and pour half the contents into your shaker. (260 mg capsules are the most common size - enough for two cocktails shaken in the same tin.)
Activated charcoal is prized for its absorbent properties, whether that's as a filtration medium in vodka production or as an insert in shoes to tame people's smelly feet. Once ingested charcoal absorbs stuff inside our bodies, hence the perceived health benefits claimed above. However, that ability to absorb also has negative affects which can be dangerous.
Whether you're taking tablets for a serious health condition, contraceptive pills or just vitamin supplements, you should not consume these or any other medication within at least four hours of drinking a cocktail containing charcoal. In fact, if you are taking prescription drugs we'd recommend you play safe and choose another cocktail.
The same applies to nutrients as activated charcoal also absorbs vitamins and minerals - something which should be considered next time you see charcoal in a smoothie being promoted for its beneficial vitamin content. Considering this, charcoal cocktails should not be consumed immediately before or after dinner.
Activated charcoal can bind to/absorb as much as 100 times its own weight and this may result in some serious clumping inside your system. A "this cocktail could induce constipation waring" may not be the best driver of sales on a cocktail menu, but that's the reality. And you all know what Berocca does to your wee, well charcoal could have a blackening effect on your poop. Less concerning, it may also turn your tongue black - now there's a thought for Halloween.