Molecular Mixology: Cocktails are Getting Scientific

Mixology is both an art form and a science. But there is a form of mixology that is making cocktails even more scientific, molecular cocktails. In case you have no idea what that actually means- molecular mixology is the process of creating cocktails using equipment and techniques of molecular gastronomy. This process is said to intensify flavor combinations, enhance spirits, and provide imaginative presentations of cocktails. Using science, libations are elevated and customers are often surprised and in awe by the futuristic outcomes.

Some of these processes include using dry ice, vacuum sealers, powders, gels, and foams. Bars can enhance their bar programs by incorporating some of these methods into their cocktails. Without a lot of equipment some of these techniques can be used without breaking the bank. Bars and restaurants that are incorporating molecular cocktails can range from gourmet restaurants to speakeasy bars.  

Some bars are enhancing classic cocktails by incorporating molecular methods to entice customers. These methods not only showcase every ingredient in the cocktail in a creative way. With an imaginative spin, these drinks give customers have a level of surprise. Below is a list of venues around the country who are using molecular mixology techniques to spice up their bar programs:

1. Frozen and Edible Cocktails at Coqueta San Francisco - Coqueta means to flirt in Spanish which is fitting because the restaurant is doing just that with their very creative cocktails. To start they offer the Silky Sangria, which is frozen to order using liquid nitrogen. They also have an edible cocktail that comes out on a plate called the Pyrenees Snowball. This cocktail is made up of a gin meringue adorned with Pop Rocks (candy) and a Basque hard cider, which has been frozen using liquid nitrogen.  

Gin and Tonic at Coqueta | YELP, Angela P. 

Gin and Tonic at Coqueta | YELP, Angela P. 

2. Hot and Cold Cocktails at Booker and Dax- An astonishing bar located in the back of Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York City is the place to find unique molecular cocktails. There is even a secret chemical lab in Chinatown where the team experiments and tests their cocktails. They believe that even though they use modern molecular methods that astound customers, they also have to create cocktails that taste as good as they look. 

One of their more popular cocktails is the Gin and Juice. This cocktail is prepared at first by getting the grapefruit juice as clear as possible through the molecular process of clarification. This process allows them to remove the pulp along with the cloudiness effect of the grapefruit juice. The end result is a perfectly clear gin and juice.

Gin and Juice (recipe courtesy of Tasted)

Ingredients:

  • 186ml of clarified grapefruit juice
  • 150ml gin
  • 58ml water
  • 27ml of simple syrup
  • 1 pinch of salt

Directions:

Chill, carbonate and serve.  

Equipment needed:

Centrifuge

Another of their popular cocktails that makes a big scene while being prepared is the French Columbian. The bar uses a 1500-1600 degree red-hot poker to prepare this tipple. The poker is used to heat the liquids while also caramelizing the sugar.  

French Columbian (recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ ounces of absinthe
  • ½ ounce demerara syrup
  • ¼ ounce of lemon juice
  • 2 ounces of water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Gin and Tonic from Booker and Dax | YELP

Gin and Tonic from Booker and Dax | YELP

Directions:

Build drink in a pint glass.  Add lemon juice, Demerara syrup, absinthe, and water.  Top with grated cinnamon. Red-hot poke for 15 seconds until you smell the sugar caramelizing.  

Equipment needed:

Red-hot poker

As you can see molecular mixology ranges from highly complicated scientific creations to more mainstream options. The ultimate goal is for the cocktail to taste as amazing as it looks!  Coqueta in San Francisco and Booker and Dax in New York City both have presentations that not only look marvelous but also taste simply delicious.

So have you had or prepared any futuristic cocktails lately?