Category: molecular mixology
Tiki Month 2018
Other Liqueurs

Original Tiki Drink: The Red Tide

I'm actually fairly proud of this one. My little Red Tide has evolved a lot since I first started nurturing it, and I am happy with the result. I started out with the not-terribly-original idea of crafting a Tiki version of the Negroni. The web is full of attempted Tiki variants of the Negroni, but none quite pull off the trick in the way I was looking for. I wanted to retain the Negroni's simple construction and bitter character. However, a drink as fully herbal and bitter as a Negroni would be too much on a Tiki menu along side drinks with the sweet, unctuous, spicy profile from the 30s and 40s that I like so much. Finally, I needed a garnish that wowed. After much experimentation, I replaced the gin with silver rum, the vermouth with pomegranate juice, and (critically) the Campari with a wine-based apertivo called Cappelletti. The Cappelletti is gentler, lower in alcohol, and oddly nuttier than Campari. The result is nicely balanced, still bitter, but less autocratic than Count Negroni's creation. The passion fruit foam garnish is essential to the drink. It isn't Tiki without it, and frankly, it is not completely delicious. I highly recommend you give this guy a try. Not only is it delicious, pretty, and a welcome low-alcohol addition to a Tiki menu, it's a real crowd-pleaser to make and present.
  • 1 oz Plantation 3-Star rum
  • 1 oz Cappelletti Apertivo
  • 1 oz POM Wonderful
Combine in a shaker with large ice and shake lightly. Fill a coupe about two-thirds full with the Sea Foam (see below). Strain cocktail over one side of the foam.
  • 6 oz passion fruit syrup
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz water
  • 5 oz pasteurized egg whites
Combine ingredients in a cream whipper, and shake for about 5 seconds. Charge with a nitrogen charger. Shake some more. Charge again with a second capsule. Shake again. Refrigerate before use. Shake again when serving.
Here's a look at how to serve the Red Tide. abc
Tiki Month 2016
Orange Liqueurs

Tiki Molecular Mixology

Keeping with the theme for this year's Tiki Month of "Modern Tiki", I'd like to present what has become a staple when I entertain during Tiki Months: Mai Tai Gels. These are cool for a variety of historic, philosophical, and practical reasons. When you consider truly 21st Century trends in the cocktail world over all, none is more truly such than Molecular Mixology in general and especially solidified cocktails. I like these treats in particular, as they combine perhaps the perfect classic early Tiki Cocktail with modern technique, all in a kitschy late-era Tiki look. And as an added bonus, they are bog easy to make. [caption id="attachment_10943" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Yummy... Yummy gummie[/caption] Rather than use any of the fancier liquid solidification techniques, I simply use gelatin. The result is sturdier than other methods, and since they are meant to be eaten as candies, that is a good thing. Aside from said gelatin, the recipe is exactly the same as the Mai Tai recipe that I believe to be closest to Trader Vic's original cocktail superweapon.
  • 1 oz. Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still rum (alternatively Smith & Cross)
  • 1 oz. gold or aged rum (e.g. Appleton V/X, Coruba, etc.)
  • 0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz. Dry Curaçao (or Cointreau)
  • 0.5 oz. orgeat
  • 0.25 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 packet Knox Gelatine
  • 1.5 oz. water
The water is about the amount of melt you'd get from the ice if you were drinking it. It makes the gels taste right, and helps the gelatin bloom and set. Pour the gelatin into the water and stir. Let sit for five minutes to activate, then stir again. While this is blooming, heat the lime juice, orgeat, and simple syrup in your smallest pot to almost a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low and scrape in the bloomed gelatin. Stir until the mixture is clear. Remove from heat and add in the rums and curaçao. Stir some more. Moai Ice Tray Set aside and prepare your molds. I use this cool moai ice tray. It has the virtue of being nearly the exact size needed to accommodate this recipe, with but a drop or two of waste. Before filling, simply give the tray a light spritz with Pam, and wipe off all excess with a paper towel. You will want to fill each mold to the brim, so I advise setting the mold on a tray or piece of cardboard. The molds are very flexible, and without support, you will spill some. Once you pour, carefully place in your fridge for at least three hours, preferably more. When you are ready to serve, peel the gels out of the ice tray with your fingers. Flexible silicone ice trays like the one I linked make this process easy. It will look like you are going to squash or tear the gels, but go slow and they will peel out perfectly. They are quite sturdy while chilled and can be eaten with you or your guests' fingers. Garnish as befits a true Mai Tai by laying each on a large mint

Details Followup: The Detailed Experience

logo In my main review of Details Minibar and Lounge, I mentioned a feature adventure that they offer, The Detailed Experience. Maggi and I went with our friends Carol and Greg on Friday night to experience the Experience. The Detailed Experience is available for groups of two to six people, and takes place upstairs at the open kitchen. The kitchen is set up like a very modern diner, with six seats at the bar counter, giving you a full view as the food is prepared. They offer seatings at six and nine, and the meal will last at least two hours. Ours took almost two and a half. The meal consists of ten courses from on and off the menu. The chef chooses which ten he'll make, and in what order, for each Experience, and apparently the group before us at six had five different dishes than we did at nine. If our experience is any indication, they will ask you at least three times between when you make the reservations and when you start eating if you have any food allergies. It was amusing to me, but I suppose if you have any such allergies, this is another detail to appreciate. Chef Drew Garms presides over the whole thing, preparing and serving each dish for you himself, explaining how it's done, and also why, if you express interest. How much he talks to your group depends on what you want. If you are working a client, or fighting with your spouse, he'll leave you alone. If you are full of questions, like we were, he'll do a great job of answering them in as much depth as you like. He's a charming and entertaining host. And oh yeah, and he serves some fascinating and delicious food. There's no point in giving you the full menu, since if you go, you won't have the same things at all. But I will talk about a few of the courses that exemplify the whole thing. Drew started out with a little molecular mixology, serving us a Liquid Nitrogen Margarita: molecular-margarita To freeze the Maragrita, Drew slowly whisks in liquid nitrogen into a classic Margarita until it reaches a perfect, slushy consistency. I was actually surprised at how long this took, but apparently if you do it too fast, you get a giant Margaritacicle on a whisk. I've had nitrogen frozen drinks before, but the twist he added was the salt. Rather than rimming the glass, Chef topped it with a dollop of salt air. To make this, you mix salt water and lecithin, then whip it lightly. Spoon up what forms on the surface and you have a relatively stable puff of sea foam. Incidentally, this is more than just a show-off way of doing a Frozen Margarita. Maggi and I both agreed that the foam was a far superior way to deliver the salt. It is smoother and melds better with the drink. Another dish that I took pictures of as Chef Drew prepared it was this one: cobb1 Not sure what it is? I didn't know what is was at this point either. It's a Cobb Salad. Don't beleive me? How about now? cobb2 For the record, I'm not a big Cobb Salad guy. But I destroyed this. There were a number of other dishes, including sushi tacos and a chocolate dirt pile for a final course, and they were all winners. Alright, there was a chutney with one dish that was merely OK. Personally, I actually felt reassured by this. It meant I wasn't just loving the food because of the atmosphere. Chef Drew's grumpiness that his chutney failed to enrapture me was just another sign, beyond the quality of the food, of his perfectionism. The Detailed Experience is not a completely unique idea, of course. There are a number of high-end restaurants around the U.S. and the world that offer this kind of hours long, small plate dining experience. But my friend Greg, who's tried a few others, confirmed several things I had surmised:
  • There is enough food here. While, you won't get stuffed, the combined courses add up to a true, full meal. And really, do you want to be needing White Castle after a meal of this quality? No.
  • The food really is outstanding. Period.
  • No, Columbus, it isn't cheap. Not in absolute terms. An evening doing the Detailed Experience will likely run you almost as much as a spread at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. But in comparison to similar offerings in other cities, it is a steal. Try an eating adventure like this in New York or Chicago, and your check will literally be an order of magnitude higher, plus the cost of those sliders you'll need afterward to fill you up.
The cocktails were as beautifully prepared as I expected, and the bar staff makes sure you don't forget them while you eat. Though I did not mention it in my bar review, Details offers a nice beer and wine list (PDF) as well. The beers are a pretty esoteric selection of offerings (though The Usual Suspects are available as well). The wine list has mostly european offerings. Though it isn't long, there's something there to float the boat of most wine drinkers. Details really is an apt name for this restaurant. Go there and it will be as apparent to you as it is to me that this is both a labor of love and product of great skill. Details is located on North High Street in the Short North District of Columbus, next door to Rosendale's. Valet parking out front. 614-298-1301 for reservations for the Detailed Experience. You need to call at least 24 hours in advance. For my review of the cocktail bar area downstairs, go
Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday XXXV: Broaden Your Horizons

mxmologoThis month's MxMo is being hosted by the Scribe, over at A Mixed Dram. His theme this month is Broaden Your Horizons. The idea is that we must write about something new to us in the cocktail world. Something we haven't tried before. He specifically calls out Morganthaler, daring him to find some way to participate. My money's on Jeff, but keep an eye out to see if he can find anything in the cocktail world he hasn't done. Maybe he'll drink a Budweiser.... As for me, well let's see... I have to do something new... I know! I'll mix up a Pegu! Seriously. For months, I have wanted to try out a Molecular Pegu. Specifically, I want to try the neat trick of spherification, wherein your liquid (played here by the mighty Pegu) is transformed into a mound of tiny spheres, solid on the outside and liquid in the center. You end up with the look and texture of large caliber caviar. I had hoped to present a clean, concise layout of how to do this. I failed. Oh, I got Pegu Caviar, but the process is difficult, complicated, and not simple. In short, it is some serious chemistry, and Doug never took any chemistry at all. It is still fun, and I will keep working at it. The upshot is, this post will only be an outline, with most of the recommendations being things to avoid. Here is the basic process for this kind of spherification: You take your liquid, which can be lots of things from pure water to fruit purée, and add sodium alginate and perhaps some sodium citrate (This perhaps is one of those things that straight answers for are difficult to ascertain). You spoon or drip this solution into a bowl of a calcium chloride solution. The outer surface of the drop will almost instantly gel. The longer you leave it in the calcium solution, the thicker the gel skin will become. When it reaches the strength you are looking for, you remove it from the bath and rinse in fresh water to halt the process. The drops are tough enough, usually, to handle, but burst in the mouth when you bite them. The result is outstandingly cool. The process is outstandingly a pain in the butt. The devil is in the details. To form the drops, you have a number of options. You can simply spoon them into the bath, carefully, with a small spoon. The results are irregular blobs that are cool to play with and eink (dreat?), but hardly visions of aesthetic prowess. Alternately, you can use a syringe to gently drip tiny drops into the bath. The smaller the drops, the more spherical they will appear. This can take forever, so there is a third, slightly more expensive option. When I first saw this done (with a cantaloupe puree), chef Rosendale used this device, from a company called Chef Rubber. You set it up over your bowl of solution, with a strainer positioned to catch the drops and make removal from the bath easier. Here's what the setup looks like: dripper You force solution into the tube with a syringe, and it slowly drips through the nozzles into the bath. You let the drops sit for about a minute, and remove. At least, that's the theory. I, of course, dove straight in. I mixed up a Pegu, added an ounce of water to simulate the amount of ice melt that would come from a normal shaking, and added about 1.5% alginate, and 0.5% citrate. Why these numbers? Because that was the upper end of the suggested range. Did I know what was supposed to happen, and what the result should look like? No. Oops. I first off wanted to test some drops before deploying the caviar maker. The drops simply vanished into the bowl, dissipating like any other liquid would. What the hell? I tried ten different ways of putting them in, and nothing worked. After some unhealthy suppression of profanity (I was trying to show off this process to my children). I decided my ingredients had to be the problem. I decided to try this with plain water to start, then add ingredients. I took a fresh 200 ml of water, and added 2g of the alginate. I walked away to secure some toys, and when I returned, found the water had gelled significantly. This had not happened with the Pegu. A spoonful into the calcium bath and bingo. I had a cool little bean of water that I could toss in my hands, but that exploded into tasteless water in my mouth. I was reinvigorated. Apparently, I needed more water. My Pegu caviar would taste less strong than I had hoped, but this was going to work. I settled on putting in water equal to the Pegu ingredients this time, and blooming the alginate in that water before adding the flavorants and intoxicants. It took a stick blender to combine the ingredients, but I had a Pegu-colored bowl of goop. Into the syringe it went, through the caviar dripper, and thence into the bath. The solution I had was probably too thick, but it eventually dripped into the water. And it formed little perfect caviar pellets. I strained them, rinsed them, and put them in a cocktail glass. Voila! pegu-pearls Maggi and I ate them with a spoon, and it was really quite cool. It tasted like just like a slightly diluted Pegu. I intended to have video of the whole process, but my older daughter stole the video camera the moment I took it out, and now I have 42 minutes of my younger daughter making faces into the lens. Here are the problems with this whole process:
  • Speed. At this viscosity, it takes ten minutes to make an ounce.
  • Wetness. The caviar remains very wet, which reduces the stuff I can do with it. I had intended to serve it on crackers, with a squirt of whipped lime for garnish.
  • Color. The excess water makes the beads too pale.
Fortunately, I have lots of the chemicals. I will try this again, but there will be some changes next time. I will be alone in the house. I need this so I will be patient. Patience is a major key. and when I am not patient, I will be able to swear in proper, therapeutic fashion. I will be prepared to try several concentrations to get one that is fluid enough to produce caviar at an acceptable rate, and will give the strongest possible, least diluted, flavor. I will set up a draining rig to go with the forming rig. Then one batch can be dripping fully dry, while I'm dripping in the next batch. And I will be patient. I have further ideas, if I can get this process going in a reasonable fashion. I intend to try spherifying each ingredient of the drink separately. I'll make up a batch of gin and bitters pearls, Cointreau pearls, and lime pearls. Then put 3 measures of the first, and one each of the second and third into a glass and swirl to combine. How cool would that be, with virtually any cocktail? All the flavors there, in the right proportions, but bursting and combining in your mouth. It will either be a train wreck, or totally amazing. I suspect it will depend on the recipe. Well, there you have it. My project worked, sort of. It certainly broadened my horizons. And it was fun... in places. Now, I'm sure someone else did this much better than I did for this Mixology Monday, so go read them and see how to do this
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