The science and art of making cocktails?

Shenanigans in Bucharest

Caught Wired’s piece about Shea Campbell setting his sights on mixology (cocktail making).

When Shea Campbell started creating his own drinks, he naturally relied on classic recipes. However, his background, both in engineering (he has a Masters in subsea engineering with specific interest in chemical erosion and interaction in Arctic sub-zero temperatures) and as a chef (you can taste his food from January at Noma, Copenhagen), helped him to think differently about how the bar industry approaches mixology.

I certainly think this is a good thing, because there is so much more than could be done with cocktails. Its a seriously under explored field and like  chocolate there is a category of artisan cocktails.

This is why I like to go new places and sample there changes to standard cocktails. Certainly can’t beat standing at a bar talking to a bartender who knows there stuff.

I’m still playing around now and then with my cocktail making kit, trying to make different takes on cosmopolitans. Been trying to make it with pomegranate juice (instead of cranberry) and raspberry liquor (instead of triple sec). Others include coffee sour, new chocolate & bourbon fashioned, etc. I won’t talk about the failed experiment adding triple sec to vodka martini! I have other experiments but I’ll save them for the new years eve party. The problem is I can do stuff which works for me but others, less so…

“My hope is that through education and interaction we can change the language of how we speak about drinks,” he says. “Rather than teaching classic recipes, it would be better to explain the effects of ingredients, so that alternate items can be chopped and changed. What we do right now is like teaching someone how to spell words without first giving them the knowledge to understand the alphabet.”

Now this would be great and very much needed. Almost a 101 for effects. All that knowledge is locked in the grey matter of bartenders up and down the world right now. Something closer to alchemy rather than chemistry.

 

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.