Chemistry isn't a word that most people associate with cocktails. But more bartenders are applying the science of molecular gastronomy to the search for a better drink, mixing alcohol with such stuff as liquid nitrogen, alginates and chlorides. The result: whiskey marshmallows, a mojito mist to be sprayed instead of sipped, a Hurricane that erupts like a school science project.
"It's about changing the texture, density or viscosity, the molecular structure of a liquid," says award-winning mixologist Charlotte Voisey. The chemical-cocktail movement grew out of a 2005 symposium sponsored by Dutch distiller Bols. In attendance were Hervé This, the father of molecular gastronomy, and eight of the world's top bartenders. They created drinks including a boozy ice cream using liquid nitrogen and an ice-cube-like gin-and-tonic jelly. This month Cointreau is introducing a kit to convert its orange liqueur into caviar pearls. Moët & Chandon has created a line of Champagne drinks with foams and caviars that add fruity flavor to bubbly. Science never tasted so good.
1. Foam In Moët's cocktail, foam adds texture and fruity flavor to Champagne without altering the effervescence
2. Solids At Providence in L.A., Adrian Vasquez make mojito spheres with sodium hexametaphosphate
3. Cotton Candy At Seattle's Vessel, Jaime Boudreau combines orange-infused candy floss and spirits for a new twist on the old-fashioned
4. Burning For a Lafitte's Cloud, Boudreau tops rum with a coconut foam brûléed with a mixture of rum and Angostura bitters
5. Caviar Eben Freeman's Cape Codder, created for wd-50 in New York City, turns vodka and cranberry juice into edible pearls