Alcohol and Solvency
While the Newscripts gang has been known to indulge in a cocktail or two, we doubt that even our penchant for pricey vodka could rack up a liquor store bill in excess of $400,000. But not John Runowicz, NYU’s former chemistry department budget director. Or at least that’s what NYU thought he was spending at a local liquor store. Over the course of five years Runowicz submitted 13,000 receipts from the same liquor store to petty cash. He had pilfered $409,000 (that’s what I call solvent!) before his repeat receipts were spotted by a curious courier. Today, as the New York Daily News reports, he was sentenced to one to three years in prison.
So, chemistry students, any way your department could credibly spend over $80,000 a year on booze?
Speaking of drinking, we read an interesting article on alcohol proof this week in the Washington Post. Proof, as you may recall, is simply the percent of alcohol times two (math even an organic chemist can do). Since alcohol is such a good solvent for flavor compounds, proof has been on the rise in spirits in recent years so that bartenders can produce potent potables that pop with flavor. Even alcohol levels in wine have been creeping up to deliver a bigger burst of fruit flavor.
Chemist and absinthe enthusiast Ted Breaux even weighs in with an explanation of why the green fairy boasts such a high alcohol content–136 proof. “You have to bottle it at high proof because of the herbs. You want clarity, and if the proof isn’t high enough, the compounds will deteriorate. The spirit becomes hazy with sediment, and it looks awful,” he tells the Post.
Finally, in a tipple trifecta, a former Amgen chemist is distilling his own whiskey in the unlikely state of Utah, reports the Thousand Oaks Acorn. I got a good giggle out of this amended quote from chemist-turned-whiskey-maker David Perkins: “Making whiskey is a lot more fun than (pharmaceutical) drugs, as you get to taste the results as well as the in-between experiments.”