Some bartenders interpret it as super high-end: the realm of specialist laboratory equipment and the secret, unspoken desire to actually be a chef.
Others see it as something that should be fun, accessible and most importantly, memorable for the customers who end up being served the drinks.
The chaps over at molecularmixology.co.uk certainly fall into the second camp, offering, among other things, molecular starter kits that give any bartender the basic tools to get started with foams and caviars. They have also teamed up with El Dorado rum to launch a nationwide molecular mixology comp, and BarLifeUK was lucky enough to be invited to judge the London heat.
We hunkered down at Marvel on the Fulham road to watch competitors create two drinks – one traditional, one molecular – in a twenty minute slot, and much creativity (but sadly no explosions) ensued.
It was obvious from the outset that everyone involved had put a lot of thought and preparation into their drinks, and both El Dorado and the molecular starter kits were put to good use (although it has to be said, an onset of ‘competition hand tremors’ does not make for easy caviar syringe manipulation). There were foams, beads, carved ice glasses and even smoke trapped in a cocktail glass being used, but after the dust had settled and the judges conferred, two competitors stood out, and were declared the winners.
So, congratulations go to Joe Petch from Sahara Bar in Reading for his ‘All day bartender’s breakfast’ and ‘El Dorado punch 400’, and Quentin Berode from London’s Groucho Club and his creations, ‘The Absentea’ and ‘A Brotherhood’.
Joe and Quentin will go on to face other regional qualifiers in the final, and head down the page for the full specs to their drinks.
One a final note from us, we had a great night at the comp and encourage you to get involved with a heat near you.
We also learned that foam dispensers, when empty of foam, shoot out jets of nitrous oxide. Who knew? Maybe that accounts for a set of rather epic hangovers the morning after…
Winning Drink Specs – Joe Petch
The All Day Bartender’s Breakfast:
Spn = Biozoon measuring spoon.
Xth (mix) = pre dissolved gum in water (paste)
Empty Egg shell x 2 (just in case)
Coconut cream x 110ml
Coconut Monin x 50ml
AGAR x 3 spn
Mango puree x 20ml
Sugar Syrup x 25ml
Pineapple Juice x 25ml
Eldorado 3yr x 50ml
Xth mix x 2tblsp
Eld Rum Sauce:
Xth mix x 2 – 3tbspns
S.Berry Puree x 75ml
Sugar Syrup x 25ml
Eldorado 12yr x 50ml
Lime juice x 25ml
Empty an egg with 2 holes (one bigger than the other), then blow through the smaller one. WASH OUT EGG THOROUGHLY! Whisk agar into thick coconut cream and coconut monin, bring to boil and inject into egg shell whilst warm, fill until about 85% full. Lay egg holes up in ice bath for 5-10mins to allow bottom to set before top. Whisk Xth mix into all ingredients & slowly inject about 15-20ml into egg using syringe (I attached a sip straw to the syringe nozzle so to reach the bottom half of the egg, this should fill the egg, if not top up with coconut mix.Leave to chill in ice bath. Slice cake into soldiers & heat until golden brown either side. Whisk Xth mix into all ingredients until thick & inject into labelled oil paint tube. (a friend took my label idea and created one for me in photoshop) *Serve egg cup with egg (upside down so no holes showing) & soldiers on a white plate. Place white plate & napkin onto wooden board. Rum Sauce tube on the side. Don’t forget the shiny spoon!
El’ Dorado fruit punch 4000:
Passion fruit x 2
Lemon LRG x 1
Pineapple juice x 150ml
AGAR x 8
P.Fruit Monin x 35ml
Lemon Juice x 25ml
Eld 12yr x 50ml
Egg White x 100ml
Xanthan x 1spn
Vanilla Monin x 25ml
Sugar Syrup x 20ml
Yellow colouring x 2-3ml
Garnish: Thin slice of wheeled lime.
Winning Drink Specs – Quentin Berode
The Absentea (Traditional)
50ml El Dorado 12yrs
25ml Apple juice
50ml English breakfast tea
1 spoon honey
1 spoon orgeat syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitter
Build in a rocks glass full of ice and garnish with an orange twist.
A Brotherhood (Molecular)
35ml Umami black tea foam
All that in a shot glass and garnish with an apple chips.
R.H.A.M. (or rum infused Iberian ham) is based on El Dorado 12yrs fatwashed with Iberian ham and clarified butter. In a ziplock bag add 30g of Iberian ham and 50g of clarified butter, leave to rest for 48h at room temperature (in France its called Enflorage). Then discard the ham and mix the 50g of butter with 200ml of El Dorado 12YO, leave it to rest for another 48h. Stick the bag in the freezer (to freeze the butter) and after few hours strain the alcohol off the butter. You will end up with a rum flavoured with Iberian ham.
Umami black tea foam 1 litre of English breakfast tea reduced to 1/2 liter (just to concentrate the flavour), 2 large spoon of miso paste and 2 large spoons of honey. The flavour has to be savoury and slighly sweet, but the flavour also has to be strong because once it goes into the foam, those flavours will be reduced. So stick all of that with about 3 or 4 grammes of Agar agar into a soda siphon. Charge it twice with N2O gas (chantilly cream gas or hilarious gas depending of the way you use it )
Apple Chips Royal gala slice very thin, dipped into icing sugar and left in the oven for about 24h at 60°C.
So a all main course served in a cocktail, which can be served in any bar who can make a bit of “mise en place”, no need to wait hours to get your cocktail on your table. Let me know if you want me to come up with a “Roast beef Old fashioned”.