Science Your Way To Better Drinks!

Scientific Methods For Cocktails

Mixology has advanced from bartending to food science, with practitioners experimenting with techniques and ingredients that otherwise may belong in a lab. Science has infiltrated bartending, normalising unlikely ingredients in cocktail culture, resulting in better and weirder drinks. While some of these experiments might seem too complex for a humble home bar, there are ways to adopt some of these techniques with simple tools and tricks. Let's dive into scientific mixology and discover how a touch of science can lead to better drinks.

The Art of Texture

Texture is a key element in any drink, often overshadowed by the discussion of flavours. Yet, the way a cocktail feels in your mouth can greatly enhance the experience. Take traditional ingredients like egg whites, used for their frothy quality. Now, mixologists are stepping up their game with items like soy lecithin, found in health food stores, to create even silkier, more stable foams. This not only looks great, but it also adds to the sensory pleasure of the drink.

Molecular Mixology: From the Kitchen to the Bar

Molecular mixology is where the science lab meets the bar. It uses techniques from molecular gastronomy, like spherification, which turns liquids into jelly-like spheres that pop in your mouth. A showstopper for parties, you can prepare these spheres in advance, innovating a new way to introduce bursts of flavour at different points in your drink.

Raising the Bar with Infusion and Fat-Washing

Bartenders are now infusing spirits with fats—think bacon, butter, or coconut oil—for unexpected flavours and a creamier texture. Fat-washing is a great example of how a scientific approach to mixology can turn familiar flavours into something exciting.

Try this at home: give your rum and coke a twist by fat-washing the rum with coconut oil. Mix 750 ml Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold rum with 60 ml of melted coconut oil, refrigerate, and then strain out the solidified oil. This leaves a subtle coconut flavour in the rum. Make a cocktail by stirring 60 ml of this infused rum with a dash of vanilla syrup. Serve it over ice in a highball glass, top it with soda water, and enjoy the multiple layers of this concoction.

The Importance of Temperature and Dilution

The right temperature and dilution level are crucial for a perfect cocktail. The choice and use of ice—crushed, cubed or shaved—affect the drink's temperature and dilution, in addition to making it look more tempting. The decision to shake or stir a cocktail isn't simply for show; it impacts how cold and diluted the drink becomes. Paying attention to these minor details can turn a good drink into a great one.

The Fun of Carbonation

Carbonated drinks aren't just for soda lovers; they offer something for everyone. Carbonation adds texture and can bring out the aroma in a drink. Playing around with different levels of carbonation and types of carbonated liquids can make even classic recipes feel new and refreshing.

Become a Mixologist in Your Own Home

Now that you know these tips, why not try your hand at creating your own inventive drinks? Start with something simple, like a gin and tonic, and experiment with different botanical infusions or carbonation levels. Or go bold and use fat-wash whisky with a hint of bacon for a smoky, savoury flavour. The possibilities are limitless for those eager to experiment behind the bar.