As much of a cocktail drinker as I am, I know very well that when it comes to making one, given all the measuring involved it is usually nothing short of a science experiment! However I believe the process requires more of your creative and artistic side than your scientific one, and this is usually how you wind up with some of your best ‘original’ drink concoctions.
Likewise, anyone who is a cocktail lover knows how a difference in ‘the dash’ can make or break your cocktail. A dash is analogical to a ‘pinch’ of salt – something we add to taste. But a pinch is certainly not the same for everyone. One pinch of salt can bring out the flavors that one pinch less cannot. Yes – only a pinch!
So how much is a dash exactly?
How much is in a dash?
To find an answer to this question, you may want to set up a very simple yet quite a scientific experiment in your kitchen.
- Make a batch of bourbon Old-Fashioneds and measure out each dash using measuring spoons.
- Every dash will somehow fall between a ⅛ teaspoon and ¼ teaspoon, sometimes even closer than that.
- Taste the Old-Fashioneds and you’ll find that each will taste around the same.
So what exactly is in a dash?
Even though the original cocktail manuals are filled with strange, volumetric descriptions from ponies to wine glasses, the dash remains the least precise. A dash can vary from one bartender to another.
You can try to understand this concept by taking the example of shaking a ketchup bottle. A ketchup bottle with one narrow opening allows the liquid to release by letting air in; bitters are less thick, so flow down faster than ketchup. But again, there’s just so much that can pass through the sole opening with a single shake!
These variations can be attributed to a combination of physics and chemistry, which basically means that it depends on the proportion of the liquid versus the air in the bottle, how much thrust a bartender applies and also the angle of the bottle during the shaking process.
But still, the most accurate measurement of a dash is ‘a little less than a millilitre’. When measured in drops using a precise millilitre-dropper, like those that dispense medicines, a dash is about 10 drops. And when measured out in teaspoons, a dash is ⅕ of a teaspoon, which is between ⅛ and ¼ a teaspoon.
When your dash deviates from the real dash
As long as you’re not adding 10-20 dashes in place of one or two, you probably won’t ruin your cocktail; like adding one more ‘pinch’ of salt won’t truly ruin your drink. Dashes are typically so small in volume that even if they’re at the peak of inconsistency and don’t have intense enough flavors – they don’t end up bringing out an enormous difference to the drink.
If you want to be sure that you’re not adding too many bitters, add a single dash and then taste as you go. Don’t add a lot at once. It’s like getting a haircut, you can add more, but can’t undo when it’s overdone!