Saturday, June 25, 2011

Drink 147: Drinflation

I have spent a lot of time recently worrying about inflation, but I’m not talking about end of Quantitative Easing 2 and how it might impact the future of the worldwide economy. I’m talking about something much more important.  And that thing is the nagging suspicion that there is rating inflation at TBIAW.  Lately it has seemed like we have been giving the drinks higher ratings than we used to and it has become a growing concern.  We understand that the vast majority of the Internet gets its drink rating information from TBIAW and we give our rating duties the requisite amount of consideration.

Since we maintain a complete database of all of our rated drinks, we decided to conduct a thorough TBIAW investigation to determine if the Fed needs to step in to reduce rating inflation or if we should continue to allow market forces to shape the scores. Plus, there are few things on this Earth I love more than making charts.  Also, whenever I can’t think of a post idea it seems like there is some way we can just talk about our favorite subjects, us.

With that in mind, we produced this chart showing the cumulative average of our drink ratings:

You can clearly see that the average rating has been steadily trending upwards, a troubling sign.  I also noticed that the standard deviation of the ratings is shrinking.  At some point down the road all three lines will converge.  This could lead to some kind of poltergeist-like black hole where the world swallows itself.  Probably not, but it is still something to keep in the back of your mind as we reach December.

We also took a look at the running totals for the number of drinks with each rating:

You can see that our twos, threes, and fours were fairly consistent, and then some point around drink 80 our twos start to fall behind.  It also appears that around drink 100 we start to hand out fives like they were free kisses.  The combination of these factors appears to be the cause of our creeping average score.

What is causing these changes?  I can think of three possible explanations:

1. Our tastes are changing. This seems like a likely candidate. As we’ve tried more drinks we have become more accepting of certain flavors and flavor combinations. This became evident when we recently revisited some old drinks and realized that we would have given them higher scores if we rated them today.

2. We are selecting drinks with a “success bias”. That is, Mrs. Bottle has been picking out fewer bad drinks. There is some basis in truth here as well as Mrs. Bottle admitted that she has been avoiding the 371 different varieties of the Martini that Mr. Boston uses to pad its pages. There would be a lot of opportunities for low scores had we tried those drinks.

3. We are trying to raise the drinks’ self-esteem. We love our drinks and we feel bad when we have to give one a low score. Therefore we may have become more likely to give a drink the benefit of the doubt.

4. It can all be blamed on random noise. Maybe we are just on a run of good drinks and over time things will even out. If things do even out, it certainly will not be because I purposely start down-grading drinks to level the score.

You are probably wondering how all of this will impact our latest drink, the Kentucky Blizzard, a combination of bourbon, cranberry juice, lime juice, grenadine, and sugar.  We chose this particular drink not only because it isn’t a Martini but also because Mrs. Bottle’s parents are visiting us here at the Estate and her father is a bourbon man.  He found the drink pleasant enough, but didn’t express a lot of opinion either way.  Of course, he is pretty low key about most things.  When he found out his only daughter was getting married he just raised an eyebrow and proclaimed, “hmm.”   It signaled happiness, disappointment, or indifference.  I choose to believe it was happiness.

Kentucky Blizzard Cocktail
When I think "Blizzard" I think bright red with an orange

Mrs. Bottle and I both thought the drink wasn’t bad, especially considering it had 1.5 ounces of whiskey, our least favorite spirit.  If anything, it could have used a little more bourbon because it was a bit too sweet.  It probably could have used less grenadine or sugar, too.  We both thought a little lime juice wouldn’t hurt, either.  Ultimately, we gave it a three.  It may have gotten a four last week before we installed our new rating austerity measures.  The grade of three didn’t stop us from finishing it, though.  Shortly after the last drop was consumed, Mrs. Bottle’s father came into the room and asked where the rest of his drink was.  I guess he liked it more than we thought.

Overall rating for the Kentucky Blizzard


Taste: 3
Presentation: 5
Ease of Preparation: 4
Drinks Until Blackout: 8 – 14% Alcohol

1.5 oz Bourbon Whiskey
1.5 oz Cranberry Juice
0.5 oz Lime Juice
0.5 oz Grenadine
1 tsp Sugar

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