Thursday, July 30, 2009

How to Make a Sazerac Cocktail

In 2008 the Louisiana House of Represenatives voted to make the Sazerac the official cocktail of New Orleans. It’s a great mix of flavors and packs a kick. A favorite with those who understand the art of living dangerously.

• 1/2 cup ice cubes
• 1 sugar cube
• 3 dashes Bitters
• 2 ounces rye Jim Beam or Old Overholt RYE (not bourbon) whiskey
• 1/2 teaspoon of absinthe
• lemon twist

Chill an old-fashioned glass by filling it with ice and water. In second old-fashioned glass, mix together sugar, bitters, and just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Stir. Add cognac or whiskey and remaining ½ cup ice, and stir well, at least 15 seconds. Take the chilled glass, discard ice and water and pour in absinthe. Swirl it around so the absinthe coats the interior of the glass. Add rye whiskey mixture into the chilled, absinthe-coated glass. Add lemon peel and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How to Make an Arc Light

Most people think Thomas Edison invented the electric light. Nah. Edison invented the incandescent light bulb, but electric lights were invented about 70 years earlier by Sir Humphrey Davy. His device was (and is) called an Arc Light.

Arc lights are extremely bright. Not particularly efficient mind you, but they are certainly bright. When I was going to high school in the 70s, there were arc light movie projectors in the school auditorium.

WWII style searchlights were arc lights as well. Each search light piercing the night sky over London searching for Stukas and Junker bombers were the equivalent of a 13,000 watt incandescent bulb and were able to throw a beam on something five miles away.

Click above on the picture above or browse to for a video of an arc light I made that uses carbon rods from a non alkaline battery and a 12 volt transformer. The video shows how it's made and more info is available in an upcoming issue of Make Magazine.

Note: If you make one, don't look directly at the arc without eye protection -- avoid the UV rays

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A new television gig

I've been itching to get back on the small screen now that I've had a taste of it when I was doing Make TV. I'm getting that scratched, at least a little bit as I've become a semi-regular on the KARE-11's morning television show Showcase Minnesota. Each month or so I go on the air with Rob Hudson, one of the show's two hosts, and show the viewing audience one of the projects from my books. KARE-11 is the local NBC affiliate.

Today (July 14) I dug out my taser powered potato cannon and demonstrated that. It worked quite well considering we were operating it outside in a driving rain. But that's show biz. The people at KARE 11 are consummate professionals and working with Rob is a treat.

The episode can be downloaded here. Next month I demonstrate the water rocket from Backyard Ballistics.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Interview Today on WHYY Philadelphia

Today, I'm being interviewed on WHYY- Philadelphia's NPR Affiliate:

Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane is an intelligent talk show dealing with issues of the Delaware Valley, as well as issues of national and global concern. Radio Times is produced by WHYY in Philadelphia.

Hour 2 (11 AM Eastern Daylight Time)
This hour, learn how to make a flamethrower in your own garage with engineer and author WILLIAM GURSTELLE. Gurstelle gives instructions on this and other explosive projects for the do-it-yourselfer in his new book Absinthe & Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously.
Listen on line at:

I was on NPR's Science Friday

The 4th of July is the time when people really start thinking about the things that go whoosh boom and splat, so Absinthe and Flamethrowers is getting a lot of media attention.

Yesterday, I appeared on National Public Radio's Science Friday show. The subject of the show was how to make those oh-so-interesting projects such as spud guns and smoke bombs.

Science Friday is a live show, but I was on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Luckily there was a good satellite connection, so the call and the interview could happen.

You can here the interview at the NPR Science Friday website or by clicking here.