Molecular Mixology III: Rubicon
Those of you that know me, know that I don’t much believe in molecular mixology as it currently exists. Plasmatic liquids, drinks that you eat, or better yet, smell, are fun to experiment with, but don’t really have a place in most bars. As companions to a meal, they may have a purpose, but standing alone they usually fall short in the enjoyment and/or refreshment department.
Does this mean that I think that we should shrug this movement off as a fad, forever immortalized in VH1 Classics “Remember the Cocktail”? (OK, this doesn’t exist, but you know that I’d watch it) Not necessarily, but I do think we need to reexamine its uses.
Instead of trying to use molecular mixology as a “wow” factor, let’s try to use it to better understand the ingredients and how they may react under specific situations. A perfect example of this would be the Rosewater Rickey, whose recipe is listed in this blog, and is filmed via an episode on the Small Screen Network. In this cocktail, I use Angostura bitters to “brulee” brandied cherries. The reason for this is three-fold: the Angostura is heated, thereby releasing the flavors and aromas of the spices (as seen in Indian cooking), the sugar is caramelized, changing the flavor, and the cherries are warmed, allowing the juices and flavor to be more easily extracted into the beverage.
Another example of how I use energy (heat) to change the properties of a spirit and its ingredients can be found in another cocktail I’ve created: the Rubicon. In this drink I light green Chartreuse, using the liquid to cook a sprig of rosemary. The neat thing about lighting green Chartreuse is that it immediately becomes, in my mind, a more interesting product. A lot of the alcohol edge is burned off, and the botanicals seem to blend and integrate a little more smoothly. (To see this in action, pour some green Chartreuse on a spoon and taste. Now, pour some on a spoon and allow to burn for about 6 seconds. Blow out and allow the spoon to cool. Now taste and marvel at the difference)
The burning Chartreuse also has the benefit of cooking the rosemary, releasing a lot of aroma and allowing the flavors to better permeate the beverage as oils are released. As for the “wow” factor, when you extinguish the flame with the rest of the ingredients, a thick white smoke develops.
Please enjoy this refreshing late summer/ early fall beverage that can be found in Seattle Metropolitan’s Bride & Groom magazine:
In a rocks glass:
½ oz green Chartreuse
1 rosemary sprig
Curl rosemary in rocks glass and light Chartreuse, cooking rosemary
(if available, put Chartreuse into a mister, and use this as a “torch” to light the Chartreuse in the glass)
In a mixing glass:
2 oz gin
½ oz maraschino
½ oz lemon
shake, strain into rocks glass, extinguishing flame
top with crushed ice
see my reply in the comments for more detailed instructions.
The rosemary curled in the glass reminded me of Caesar’s laurels and therefore I’ve named this libation after the famous river Caesar crossed in 49 BC after uttering the now famous words: ‘Let us go where the omens of the Gods and the crimes of our enemies summon us! THE DIE IS NOW CAST!’ It is with this action that the Roman Empire began, and western civilization as we know it.
Drink and picture by: