Molecular gastronomy puts science on tap

People nowadays take their bartending presentation as seriously as a graduate school chemistry exam.

As the boundaries of culinary expression are pushed wider with every exotic new taste sensation, mixology is bound to follow suit. Breakthroughs in molecular gastronomy – cooking with an advanced scientific edge – have propagated interesting scientific advancements in the art of the beverage.

In turn, the tools with which bartenders fashion and serve their concoctions have begun looking less like standard kitchenware and more like industrial equipment. What technology in particular has found its way out of the laboratory and behind the bar?

"Going centrifugal is for the frugal as well."

Chilly disposition
Liquid nitrogen has become quite a versatile material to cocktail creation, far beyond simply chilling glasses. As the Chicago Tribune recently reported, a nitrogen bath can freeze ingredients so severely, light application of a mortar and pestle can reduce these accouterments to a fine dust.

Beyond merely refining mint leaves to a perfect mixing state, utilizing liquid nitrogen can also help mixologists control the oxidation levels of the drinks they serve, which factors into precise taste profiles. The chemical also emits a smart-looking mist when exposed to the open air.

However playful it may appear in the pub, liquid nitrogen is not a toy. Keeping this chemical on site requires a business to maintain proper containment techniques, not to mention attentive supervision and training.

Revolution in drinking
The centrifuge, a staple in the medical community, has also found its place amid the mixologist's arsenal. The device's carousel has the power to spin substances so quickly that individual molecular components within can be separated.

As seasoned Boston bartender Todd Maul pointed out to Thermo Scientific, breaking down ingredients into two or more different states is more than just a fancy filtering process. Going centrifugal is for the frugal as well. By obtaining sediment from spinning his bar's fruit juices, Maul was able to circumnavigate his produce's short shelf life and retain twice the product for just the cost of the machine.

Tending bar in the 21st century involves much more than a martini shaker.Tending bar in the 21st century involves much more than a martini shaker.

Alcohol accessories
Three-dimensional printers have begun to revolutionize industries across the spectrum. Bartending will not miss out as this technology has the potential to add new dimensions to the word "garnish."

Take MIT's John Bush, professor of applied mathematics, who has been experimenting with edible materials fed into 3D printers. In doing so, he created devices that can not only accent your spirit of choice, but add exciting new properties to a person's night out. Bush developed a miniature vessel that can freely propel itself along the surface of a drink. As it travels, it releases alcohol with a higher proof to keep it trekking ever onward until it dissolves or succumbs to an impatient attendee.

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