Posts Tagged ‘molecular mixology’

Week Fourteen: Scotch Fusion

April 11, 2009

We’re going to try something a bit new this week: a brief trip into a confused mind.

The thought goes something like this: we know that the action of shaking with ice affects the liquid in the shaker in a couple of noticeable ways:

  • it chills the contents, courtesy of the ice
  • it adds dilution to the contents, again thanks to the ice
  • the motion thoroughly mixes the liquids within
  • it aerates the contents by trapping small bubbles of air within the mixture

The first three effects are also observed with stirred and built drinks, but the fourth is unique to shaken drinks. The first three effects can also be observed in warmed or hot cocktails through the addition of boiling water – a Blue Blazer, for example. Continuing the original thought, would it be possible to create a hot cocktail that is aerated by shaking?

Unfortunately, while ice has the handy properties of reducing temperature while also adding solid matter to aid the physical motion of shaking, there isn’t an easy alternative for increasing temperature while adding solid matter. Hot coals, possibly, but I didn’t have any handy and there’s a possibility of the final drink tasting all carbony. At any rate, I decided to try the same recipe twice – one cold, one hot. Just to see if it’s possible.

25ml Johnnie Walker Black Label
25ml Drambuie
25ml espresso
5ml sugar syrup
Shake with ice and fine-strain into a chilled brandy glass. No garnish.

The cold version turned out much as expected – a rounded, Scotch twist on an Espresso Martini. For the hot version, I opted to add 40ml of boiling water to add the dilution that would normally come from the ice, and popped the spring from a Hawthorne strainer into the tin as well.

25ml Johnnie Walker Black Label
25ml Drambuie
25ml espresso
5ml sugar syrup
40ml boiling water
Dry-shake with the spring from a Hawthorne strainer, and strain into a warmed brandy glass. No garnish.

The hot version turned out, well, weird. It looked the same as the cold one, but the crema formed by shaking the espresso quickly disappeared. The other notable difference was the temperature – it came out of the shaker more towards lukewarm and didn’t retain what heat it had for long either. The dissipation of the crema can – I think – be attributed to the difference in temperature (colder temperatures encourage molecules to stay closer together, if my memory of high school chemistry serves), but I think there are steps I could take to preserve a higher temperature – perhaps using a vacuum flask rather than a regular Boston shaker and heating the ingredients beforehand.

There’s something here, maybe. Maybe not; but even at a slightly disappointing temperature, the hot version had both striking similarities and dramatic differences to its cold brother. Returning finally to the thought that started this whole diversion, can you create a hot cocktail that is aerated by shaking?



Week Nine: Flame’s Edge

March 2, 2009

New drinks are weird, intangible things. Sometimes, they can be engineered. Sometimes, they come from little more than an instinct. And sometimes, they just happen.

We’ve been hosting cocktail masterclasses at work for a while now. They’ve proven to be popular with birthday and hen parties, possibly because it provides a decent excuse for exposing the guest of honour to phenomenal amounts of alcohol. There’s a standard format for the session – a champagne cocktail of some description on arrival, followed by a demo of the different ways of making cocktails before getting each member of the group to make their own drink. Depending on the size of the group and how much time we have, I sometimes try to mix up a couple of drinks based on suggestions from the group. Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to come up with something that ticks all the boxes. Every once in a while, though, it’s a bit tougher.

On Saturday night, they wanted fire.

(Flaming Cassanova by cr03, licensed under Creative Commons.)

The problem was that I had totally run out of overproof rum, removing the easy option for fuel. So, I decided to go for Jamie Boudreau’s Rubicon – only to discover that the kitchen was out of rosemary.

It was starting to feel like one of those dreams where you turn up to your high school graduation naked, but the idea behind the Rubicon has intrigued me since Jamie posted the recipe. In his words:

The burning Chartreuse also has the benefit of cooking the rosemary, releasing a lot of aroma and allowing the flavors to better permeate the beverage as oils are released. As for the “wow” factor, when you extinguish the flame with the rest of the ingredients, a thick white smoke develops.

I’m pretty certain blue flames come under “wow”, too. So, taking the Rubicon as a starting point (after all, there’s no going back from this point), here’s what we ended up with.

Flame’s Edge
An orange
10ml Green Chartreuse
40ml Monkey Shoulder
15ml Lemon Juice
20ml White Creme De Cacao
Strip three long strips of peel from the orange with a channel knife. Place two of the strips in a rocks glass with the Chartreuse, keeping one aside for garnish. Pour the whisky, lemon juice and Creme de Cacao into a shaker, add ice and prepare to shake. Before you do, light the Chartreuse in the glass with orange zests. Shake the remaining ingredients and strain into the glass, extinguishing the flame. Fill the glass with crushed ice and garnish with the remaining orange zest twist.