A Splash in the Molecular World



Over the years cocktail mixology has changed. What started with mixing spirits with juices and soda has evolved into using different tools and science techniques to create something more unique.

We’re now in the age of molecular mixology, a fusion of science and cocktail techniques.  It involves the practice of molecular gastronomy along with scientific equipment and methods used create this new breed of cocktails.

Toronto-based Chef John Placko makes molecular delights with his product Power For Texture. Placko’s career started in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. He now promotes the awareness and education of molecular cuisine as an instructor with the Modern Culinary Academy. Recently, he opened The Kitchen Canada, an event space and a professional kitchen in Etobicoke where people can hold dinner parties and corporate events, all the while being dazzled by Placko’s mad-scientist concoctions.

“The same techniques in molecular cuisine are the same in molecular mixology,” Placko explained. “For example, if you want a Kir Royal (a French cocktail that is made with blackcurrant liqueur and topped with white wine), you can make a black current liquor into caviar and let them float in your drink.”

When it comes down to creating cocktails, the presentation is much more developed than a cherry garnish on a toothpick. In fact, liquids themselves can come in many forms such as solids, foams, emulsions or gels.

Photograph: Leanne Neufeld, BarChef
Photograph: Leanne Neufeld, BarChef

Rob Hatingale, a web developer in Brighton, United Kingdom, is currently working for Cream Chargers where he stocks chef-quality equipment for home kitchens. He says their company is beginning to stock a range of molecular mixology kits and ingredients, which he loves to experiment with.

“I like to learn the techniques and then apply these to recipes that I already know,” Hatingale said. “I find it good to focus on one particular technique, for example spherification (which is the process of shaping a liquid into spheres), and try it out in different ways until I think I’ve fully explored it.”

The prices for one of these molecular cocktails in a restaurant or bar is understandably higher than regular drinks because of the time, technique and ingredients used to make them; however, the outcome is certainly worth the experience.

Irwin Adam Eydelnant is one half of the Toronto-based company I and J Ideations. He and his partner created a two-week long program called BevLabs, which brought people in and taught them about the future of beverages. He spoke about how molecular mixology drinks are purely experimental.

“The difference is that this is creating an experience,” Eydelnant said. “I believe that molecular mixology brings out more interactions. It is also about having a beverage that has been served in a unique way.”

Right now molecular mixology is such a niche that not many restaurants are doing it, but the future looks bright; the demand for these types of drinks is rising.

“I think we might see more and more restaurants featuring techniques within their menu to highlight the textures and presentations,” Placko said. “We also see more mixologists starting to play with this a lot more than they used to.”

If you can’t find a place to buy and experience a molecular libation, it’s just as fun to make them yourself at home—with the right equipment, of course.

“I’d say they are more likely to be something that is done at home,” observed Hatingale. “I feel that the fun is more in the making than the drinking.”

There are many molecular cocktail kits and recipe books that you can purchase online and even in-stores. Placko has his own line called Power for Texture products that you can purchase at Nella Cucina in Toronto. You can also order items online at Cream Chargers UK.

So whether you want to head out to a restaurant serving these beverages in Toronto, such as BarChef, or have a DIY molecular cocktail party with a bunch of friends, On the Danforth thinks this is a scene worth exploring.


For more on molecular mixology, visit online-source The Thirst.

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