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Study reveals science behind traditional mezcal-making technique

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain Artisanal makers of mezcal have a tried and true way to tell when the drink has been distilled to the right alcohol level. They squirt some into a small container and look for little bubbles, known as pearls. If the alcohol content is too high or too low, the bubbles burst quickly. But if they linger for 30 seconds or so, the alcohol level is perfect and the mezcal is ready to drink.

Now, a new study by a team of fluid dynamics researchers reveals the physics behind the trick. Using laboratory experiments and computer models, the researchers show that a phenomenon known as the Marangoni effect helps mezcal bubbles linger a little longer when the alcohol content is around the sweet spot of 50%. In addition to showing the scientific underpinnings of something artisans have known for centuries, the researchers say the findings reveal new fundamental details about the lifetimes of bubbles on liquid surfaces.

The study, a collaboration between researchers at Brown University, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Université de Toulouse and elsewhere, was published on July 3 in the journal Scientific Reports .

When Roberto Zenit, a professor in Brown’s School of Engineering and the […]

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