Childhood Memories

I think everyone in North America has a fond memory of going to the local fair as a child, riding the Ferris wheel and various other rides, and looking on in amazement at circus acts or freak shows while pulling off strands of cotton candy and letting it melt on your pink, sugar-coated tongue (ok, maybe your tongue was blue, and not pink).

I’ve never forgotten that magical disappearing candy which got me so completely wired as a young child that, by the end of that hot summer night, I was determined to pack my bag as soon as I got home, in order to run away and become a Carnie.

I’m a little bit older now (ok, maybe a lot older) but I still get a big smile whenever I see candy floss, which got me to thinking one day: candy floss is just sugar, surely it could become an ingredient in a cocktail. So began my journey to use cotton candy in cocktails, an example of which will be seen in an upcoming issue of Playboy magazine (see, you can buy it for the articles!) and in the cocktail that we will be discussing today.

There are two really cool things about using cotton candy in drinks. One, when you pour liquid over candy floss, it instantaneously dissolves and disappears. Two, you don’t have to use that pink or blue sugar that everyone associates with candy floss. You can make your own flavored sugar. But don’t just stick with simple flavors like orange or vanilla. Think savory flavors, like rosemary or truffle. (You’re starting to see the potential in this now, aren’t you? And you were beginning to doubt me. Shame on you.)

As this month’s MixMo was to be all about brandy, and seeing as the Playboy article consist of a recipe using a truffled cotton candy with Armagnac (the article is about molecular mixology), I’ve decided to create another cocktail using cotton candy as my source of sugar.

So, whip out your candy floss machines, and create a:

2 oz Cognac
2 dashes cherry bitters
1 dash Fee’s Aromatic bitters
orange flavored cotton candy
fill rocks glass with orange flavored cotton candy
stir all other ingredients with ice and strain into a sidecar
pour sidecar over orange candy floss, melting instantly
take a bow when applause occurs

Contrary to popular belief, filling a glass full of cotton candy will not make for a sweet drink. If you have ever made cotton candy before, you will realize that it takes very little sugar to make a lot of cotton candy. If anything, you may need to add a touch of simple syrup to the liquid portion of the drink. When I’ve used cotton candy in the past as a sugar substitute, I’ve found that if the recipe calls for lemon juice, you either need to use the juice sparingly or supplement the candy floss with some simple syrup in the liquid portion of the drink.

If you’re wondering how to flavor the cotton candy, you can do one of two things. You can find some flavored Kool-Aid and mix it in with your sugar, or you can bury the flavor that you want added in a pile of sugar, shake occasionally and wait. Eventually the sugar will take on the flavors (just like it does when you make vanilla sugar).

So ends my three day Mixology Monday: Brandy posting.

Happy flossing!

Picture and drink by:
Jamie Boudreau



~ by Jamie Boudreau on January 17, 2008.

14 Responses to “Childhood Memories”

  1. That’s friggin’ awesome.

  2. So, does the cotton candy actually benefit the profile of the resulting drink in any way you couldn’t achieve with standard ingredients? To me, this seems like pure showmanship taking precedence over the culinary aspect of the cocktail. I can’t imagine the artificiality of Kool-Aid-flavored sugar would be better than, say, gomme syrup and a couple dashes of orange bitters.

    On the other hand, perhaps a flourish of enjoyable-but-ultimately cheap showmanship is the best way to honor the fond memories of the circus… Hm.

  3. huh, did you write something? you lost me at that first hyperlink ….

  4. Hi Jamie,

    I have been playing around with candy floss last year and had my wee bit of fun. At that time everybody talked about dusts (Campari dust for example) so I dried out Campari, ground it to sugar and popped it into my candy floss machine…candy floss for grown ups I tell you!

  5. Wow! Neat idea. Showmanship, yes, but there’s room for that in fine bartending; it’s not like you’re juggling bottles or spilling hooch on the floor.

  6. wait… what? there’s a cotton candy machine at vessel? how did I miss that?

    if only you could somehow light the floss on fire before dousing and melting it…

  7. Throw in a funnel-cake garnish and you’ve got yourself one Carny cocktail there.

  8. Heh, this is probably going to be seen as comment spam by you good people, but here goes: I’ve recently become interested in “Lorann candy flavoring oil”, (specifically, lime, for lacing Margarita salt with). Anyway, this stuff is supposedly made from natural concentrated fruit oils, so it might work magic with the candy floss?

  9. Looks like a great idea. Cotton candy has so different taste as sugar and may be work well with cognak. I think, you create very unusual drink, which demonstrate youra new way very well!

  10. Sounds great! I have another quick question, with all the use of bitters and house made bitters really becoming a stable in cocktails as of late. Are there any uses of oils such as orange oils, lemon oils etc… They have such strong aromatics and if used properly could add a showmanship quality by flaming. Any ideas on where to find these oils.

  11. After reading this article, I immediately laughed out loud, “State Fair Cocktail!!” ^_^.

    Hmm … I must go to the lab now. ^_~. Thanks Jamie!

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  14. […] Childhood Memories В« Jan 17, 2008 … You can make your own flavored sugar. But don't just stick with simple flavors like orange or … […]

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