Science Helps Bartenders Create Crazier Cocktails

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Published in 1948, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David E. Embury’s is still considered one of the finest books on the craft of bartending. Although today’s bartenders still swear by the techniques and recipes mentioned by Embury, they are blessed with modern technologies that allow them to create new and engaging drinks. The Guardian explores ways bartenders use scientific methods to impress

In order to mimic the concept of terroir, Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row opens a wine bottle at the table and describes the process that goes into crafting the drink. When he pours, however, out comes his cocktail, the Terroir — “an exploration of earthy, mineral and mossy flavours.” Thomas Aske of the Worship Street Whistling Shop chills his Clynelish highland whiskey-based cocktails with frozen pebbles from Scotland, in order to chill the drink without diluting it. “It could add a bit of minerality,” said Aske, but the effect seems more psychological than physiological. 

With another cocktail, Aske garnishes the drink with a helium ballon that contains the “essence of fresh bread.” Guests pop the ballon and releases the aroma that compliments the cocktail. Other bartenders design their own glassware. Conigliaro serves the Silver Bullet cocktail in a special glass with werewolf-like skin and hair, for example. He has also experimented with “flocked and rough, sandpapered stems, and tied some fine rope around the stem of a nautical-themed drinks.”

Bartenders are no long strangers to modern cooking inventions such as rotary evaporators and sous vides as well. These tools enable them to create and extract specific flavors that allow them to design more precise cocktails. However, the Whistling Shop takes the price for the craziest technique. The bar is experimenting with “using ultrasonic sound waves to turn liquid into vapour, serving a gin and tonic that you inhale.” [The Guardian] [Photo: Flickr/Internet Archive Book Images]