Mix with a twist

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - News -

WHEN I ask the bar­man at Sling Restau­rant Lounge in Bris­bane’s West End for a rec­om­men­da­tion, he grabs a box from un­der the counter, un­clips the catches and ex­tracts the tools of his trade: sil­ver spoons, metal swiz­zle sticks, a sy­ringe and a jew­eller’s scale to mea­sure the fine white pow­der. A few cus­tomers give us curious glances, but noth­ing il­le­gal is about to take place. Martin Lange, one of Aus­tralia’s lead­ing molec­u­lar mixol­o­gists, is mak­ing me a drink.

Molec­u­lar mixol­ogy evolved from molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy, the food trend de­vel­oped by French sci­en­tist Herve This and made fa­mous by Span­ish chef Fer­ran Adria at El Bulli restau­rant near Barcelona. The gas­tro­nomic ver­sion of­ten in­volves un­usual flavours — think peanut ice cream with ar­ti­choke caramel — but bar­tenders tend to use the sci­en­tific prin­ci­ples for en­hanc­ing taste, tex­ture and ap­pear­ance.

The first of­fi­cial molec­u­lar mixol­ogy class, held in Oc­to­ber last year at the Ritz Paris’s Hem­ing­way Bar, played host to This and eight renowned bar­tenders in­vited to learn tech­niques from him. Aus­tralian molec­u­lar mixol­o­gists such as Lange rely on in­dus­try mag­a­zines, bar shows, chat rooms and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.

I settle back in my chair as Lange sug­gests a spher­i­fi­ca­tion and lines up his im­ple­ments and Tex­turas, a range mar­keted by Adria. Th­ese pow­ders, most of which are de­rived from nat­u­ral prod­ucts, sta­bilise drink in­gre­di­ents and must be mea­sured within 0.01g, hence the jew­eller’s scale. Like a chemist pro­duc­ing a pre­scrip­tion, Lange weighs and mea­sures pow­ders and dou­blechecks the quan­ti­ties. Soon a beaker filled with mango daiquiri, laced with Al­gin and Ci­tras from the Tex­turas range, and a plas­tic con­tainer filled with wa­ter and Cal­cic (cal­cium chlo­ride) sits on the bar.

With the easy con­fi­dence of some­one who has done this many times be­fore, Lange uses a large sy­ringe to slowly squirt the daiquiri just un­der the sur­face of the wa­ter, where it forms a per­fect jelly-like sphere that sinks slowly to the bot­tom of the con­tainer.

The ravi­oli’’ spher­i­fi­ca­tion is scooped out, drained and pre­sented on a small white serv­ing spoon where it quiv­ers ex­pec­tantly un­til I slip it into my mouth. A per­fect daiquiri bursts forth with an in­tense flavour ex­plo­sion and the jelly dis­solves into noth­ing. This is the tini­est drink I have tasted but surely one of the most mem­o­rable.

Lange ex­plains he can also cre­ate liquor-filled caviar, triple-frozen ice, torched drinks and pop­corn, a crunchy gran­u­lar con­coc­tion cre­ated us­ing liq­uid nitro­gen (def­i­nitely not pre­pared at the bar).

It is not enough for bar­tenders sim­ply to mas­ter tech­niques. Per­haps the big­gest chal­lenge is the time spent on each cre­ation. Sling com­bats this by of­fer­ing cock­tail de­gus­ta­tions that show off a num­ber of tech­niques at once. Wild li­ba­tions such as nitro brandy alexan­der sor­bet, soda streamed gin fizz mar­ti­nis, choco­late ravi­oli and in­stant nitro vanilla ice cream fea­ture on the menu.

Molec­u­lar mixol­ogy has made its way to main­stream venues, in­clud­ing Bent­ley Restau­rant & Bar in Syd­ney’s Surry Hills, Zeta Bar at Hil­ton Syd­ney, Der Raum in Melbourne’s Rich­mond and Hippo Lounge Bar in Can­berra. Provi­dore Si­mon John­son even of­fers a Molec­u­lar Mixol­ogy Mini Kit ($396).

The el­e­gance of Cu­vee Lounge Bar at Sof­i­tel Bris­bane is the an­tithe­sis of Sling’s edgy youth­ful ap­peal. In­tro­duc­ing molec­u­lar mixol­ogy to the wide cross-sec­tion of cus­tomers who drink at ho­tels is chal­leng­ing.

At Cu­vee, the sole fo­cus is foams, which add an in­spired twist to more tra­di­tional drinks and en­cour­age cus­tomers to try some­thing new. They are also made with one of the quick­est molec­u­lar mixol­ogy tech­niques to mas­ter.

I or­der a mar­tini and watch as vanilla-in­fused vodka and syrup is shaken with more typ­i­cal in­gre­di­ents and poured into a tra­di­tional glass. The bar­tender snaps a ni­trous ox­ide car­tridge into the cham­ber of his sil­ver can­is­ter, flips it over and squirts a meringue-like foam over the sur­face of my drink. An ex­quis­ite fruity aroma tick­les my nose and pas­sion­fruit froth softly touches my lips. Molec­u­lar mixol­ogy could be the start of a new love af­fair. www.slin­glounge.com www.ritz­paris.com www.tex­turasel­bulli.com www.thebent­ley.com.au www.zetabar.com.au www.derraum.com.au www.hip­po­bar.com.au www.si­mon­john­son.com www.sof­itel­bris­bane.com.au

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.