In today's New York Times piece, "Eat 300 and Say 'Spherification'", Pete Wells looks at a big development in one of the most attention-getting aspects of contemporary cocktails: molecular mixology.
Following in the footsteps of Ferran Adria at El Bulli, adventurous bartenders have, in recent years, been working with assorted chemicals and lab techniques that enable them to change the appearance, texture and styling of cocktail ingredients—think gelatinous cubes of Campari, and scoops of "caviar" made from gin. But even as these techniques have inspired a certain degree of gee-whiz admiration, the number of bartenders skilled in the techniques has been until recently quite small.
That could soon change. As Wells writes, liquor behemoth Remy Cointreau is introducing a kit that has everything a bartender needs to convert the company's signature orange liqueur into tiny tapioca-like pearls, which may then be spooned into a Cosmopolitan or a glass of champagne. The company plans to introduce this kit at 20 bars in New York, including several that are the reigning regents of cocktail culture.
Of course, not everyone is that impressed with Remy Cointreau's development. Wells quotes David Arnold, the director of culinary technology at the French Culinary Institute: "There's so much to be done with drinks that's not being done that doesn't involve tiny little balls."
What are your thoughts? Would seeing this novel approach in a restaurant or bar make you more likely to give the cocktail menu a whirl, or does it seem like a gimmick that distracts bartenders from focusing on simply making good drinks to begin with?
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.