Doesn’t this cocktail look fabulous? The star mixologist Alex at Bistro Moderne gave me a sneak preview of a cocktail he’s developing for this month’s Dining Club at Bistro Moderne. I wish I could have that much flair.
What makes this cocktail molecular? It’s the foam on top created with an alcohol, some special power whipped up to form a thick foam which tastes deliciously of the liqueur you started with. When you sip your drink you get two distinct taste sensations, the foam and the alcohol below. Delicious!
Why not try my hand at making a molecular cocktail or two? Cream Chargers sent me a kit that would allow me to try making foams, spherification (making small caviar beads) and reverse spherification (making a large sphere that will explode in your mouth). What an opportunity to dabble and drink. I think one of the reasons I liked chemistry at school was that it was at time a bit like cooking, mixing up all the mixtures. Techniques you may have come across in food served at some of our very best restaurants come to cocktails.
It certainly proved to be a good way of gaining new skills but with some frustrations.
The Molécule R boxes are stylish. Inside you’ll find 3 different types of powders, two pipettes, a slotted spoon and a mold similar to one you would use for making ice cubes and instructions. My box was for creating Magaritas. The idea is that you use the techniques to make the three different types.
This is where the challenge begins. The alcohol is not included. Knowing that I had tequila in the cupboard, I blythely started to make the cocktail. Note to self, read the entire ingredient list first. Enlisting Sophie’s help, we realised we’d need to be creative with ingredients to make the azure bursting pearls. No blue curacao in the house, so we used something red.
Next problem, the ingredients list doesn’t tell you how many cocktails the molecular mixture will make. Using the entire sachet of sodium alginate made a vast quantity of red jelly like stuff – rather a waste of 120ml of alcohol. Next, the need for a hand blender. Luckily Sophie had one (I didn’t at home) – mixing vigorously causes the sodium alginate to dissolve. Oh. We are now supposed to wait for 30 minutes for the bubbles to subside.
Finally, we were able to add the calcium lactate to some water and the spherification could begin.
We got bored after a while plopping small amounts of the red stuff into the mixture with the pipette. How many would we need for our cocktail? The instructions didn’t say. However, the blobs did turn out like pearls.
We rinsed as suggested, then made the cocktail as directed. The effect was rather underwhelming. The texture was rather odd, and the red “caviar” didn’t really taste of anything. A lot of effort for one cocktail!
Would I try again?
Now I know I don’t really need to stick rigorously to the ingredients, I feel confident about using the rest of the ingredients in the pack. When they are used up, I would have another go, especially if I buy the powders at a reasonable price.
Annoyingly, if you watch the videos, it appears that they are using a smaller amount of the powders than is used in the recipe leaflet which makes much more sense! I tried making the reverse spherification back at home and using an ordinary mixer didn’t work. It suggests in the leaflet that some beaters are not powerful enough to dissolve the mixture. I’d need acquire a hand mixer.
The kit will cost you around £30
Watch the masters do it
Where to find out more
Purchase the Molecule R Kit from Cream Chargers
Molecular Mixology has a wide range of ingredients (£11.99 for a set of 4 powders)
Molecular Recipes has a good range of recipes and techniques