Monday, March 16, 2015

Molecular Gastronomy and Mixology

The culinary arts world has been colliding with the art of bartending since before those two terms have existed. It's all been culminating in the past decade with the expansion of Internet connectivity and thus access to information. Much like the growth of the craft beer and spirits scene, due in part to Internet, the craft cocktail scene has been expanding as well.
Awe yeah. Look at those platters! Chocolate fondue time!
Professional bartenders are like jacks of all trades in their industry. They need a little bit of everything and a wide breadth of knowledge in order to stay relevant. Enter molecular gastronomy; essentially the science of cooking.

This is what Spanish Coffee looks like if you turn
it into spaghetti.
The use of the word mixology has some implicit level of sciencey built into it. The culture itself is steeped in different scientific aspects of cooking, but combining it with molecular gastronomy is another step in the direction of both obscurity and artistry.

A few tactics of molecular gastronomy can provide more novelty to the experience of the cocktail drinker. Through gelification you can turn sweet cocktails into dessert hors d'oeuvres to pass around while guests sip on appertifs. By adding agar agar to your Spanish coffees, for example, you can shoot them through tubes and solidify them into spaghetti.

Reverse spherification is awesome for shots
while spherification makes little Roe like pearls
Possibly much more interesting are the processes of spherification and reverse spherification. By adding the brown algae extract known as sodium alginate to your liquids and dunking small drops of it into a calcium lactate glutonate (perhaps through a squeeze bottle) you can create small roe like spheres in a process called spherification. The process has obvious uses for the bartender, as garnish. 
The reverse method, mixing liquids with calcium lactate and dunking into a bath of sodium alginate can produce larger spheres containing alcohol. A perfect gimmick for creating new shots.

The downside to these methods is preparation time and precision. Much like the baker, the molecular gastronomist will have to measure out ingredients by the gram, or risk ruining the whole batch. Mixtures must also be purified of air bubbles,  which means either using expensive vacuum equipment or letting liquids sit overnight. Demineralized water must also be used, for obvious reasons.
Shots shots shots!
If the photos and suggestions in this article are too tempting, stay tuned for my next update on molecular gastronomy where I show you how to do it. Wait for my instructional videos and articles in the coming weeks and months folks!

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