Most vacations are centered on sights: A pristine coastline; a crumbling cathedral; a gaping canyon or a galloping giraffe. But as Trevor Cox points out in his new book, it's equally rewarding to organize travel around sounds.
"I began to think about where I would go if you wanted listen to the most remarkable sounds in the world, and I was surprised to find there was relatively little information," the British acoustic engineer told CNN.
Cox, author of "The Sounds Book," keeps a user-generated map of aural destinations on his website. None of them pertain to food or drink; the highly specific suggestions skirt over the common diner concerto of eggs sizzling on a grill and the rhythms of a pitmaster's cleaver.
But at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival this past weekend, cocktail writer Wayne Curtis suggested at least one sound which would have been deserving of a mention - if the list was compiled a few centuries ago.
In a session devoted to colonial drinking, Curtis and fellow drinks historian David Wondrich outlined early Americans' penchant for imbibing anything alcoholic. Although the British were the lone Europeans to historically shun distilled spirits (the scene changed after the accession of William of Orange opened the gin gates), colonists happily consumed rum.
Much of it was in the form of punch. "The pirates didn't go about swigging alcohol from the bottle," Wondrich, author of "Punch: the Delights (And Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl", said. "That's pathetic. They had punch."
One bowl-based rum drink popular in colonial New England was the flip, featuring a mix of rum, molasses, beer and spices. It was warmed with a red-hot loggerhead (the phrase "at loggerheads" derives from the very scary prospect of two tavern keepers wielding the pokers like swords), a bit of theater which has lately been resurrected by bartenders in Washington D.C.
The plunging of the loggerhead served to invert - or flip - the sugar. But it also created a signature sound, which was as enticing to 18th century drinkers as the sound of ice in a shaker today. As Curtis prepared a flip for his audience, he urged its members to listen to what contemporary writers admirably referred to as "the hissing dip of a flip." Sounds like a reason to plan a trip, if only to a D.C. saloon.
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