The cocktail scene here has become increasingly sophisticated, with techniques such as house infusions and creative presentations using flaming herbs and dry ice barely eliciting a gasp anymore.
So, what’s the next step in cocktail evolution? One watering hole in Dallas in the United States has turned to using equipment more suited to a science laboratory than a bar counter. Call it “molecular cocktology” and its engines – Buchi rotavapors, refractometers and immersion circulators.
“We are looking to create modern, forward-thinking drinks,” says Chad Solomon, co-founder of five-month-old Midnight Rambler. “But the technology is not the point,” he insists. “These are just tools we use, no different from a stirring spoon or a mixing glass or a muddler. We add them into our equipment repertoire to (refine) ingredients.”
If the techniques take off, here’s what you’ll see at your cocktail lounge some time down the road.
The Buchi rotavapor infuses water with aromas via cold distillation. Traditional techniques use heat, which can weaken the smell. Here, the contraption is used for tipples like Pho King Champ, which contains wheat vodka, sherry and beef stock scented with spices, sriracha and fish sauce. Evidently, some people can’t get enough of Vietnamese beef noodles.
High and Dry
The dehydrator removes moisture from fruit to produce garnishes. One example is dehydrated slices of lemon, which is then spritzed with a light emulsion of essential oils like nutmeg, ginger and jasmine for cocktails that offer that extra dimension of scent to relish.
The immersion circulator creates full-flavoured infusions faster than the traditional method of steeping an ingredient in a spirit for weeks, a la vanilla in rum. It is similar to a sous vide machine but operates with lower temperatures. Barrel-aged infusions may soon be so yesterday.
“This takes a fruit or vegetable and juices, clarifies and carbonates it, so we can turn it into a soda,” says Solomon. The centrifuge separates juices through rapid circulation. Solids settle on the bottom, allowing a pale, flavour-packed liquid to float at the top. Next up – tasty cocktails.