Feature these cocktails on a list
highlighted with the drink’s uniqueness,” suggests Herb Westphalen
of New York City-based Signature
Cocktail Creations. His Cotton Candy Martini originally sold for $10 at
Philip Marie Restaurant in New York
City. Blue and pink cotton candy
garnishes add color and flavor to
a classic (and typically clear) drink.
Though commercial cotton candy makers sell for upwards of
$600, lower-end ones are available for less than $100 — a fun
and whimsical garnish option for bars.
To acclimate guests to this style of mixology, Zimorski suggests operators first start with twists such as foams or a cotton
candy garnish on familiar drinks like the Mojito or Margarita.
“We earn trust by doing that, and then people are more willing
to try some of the more esoteric creations that I dream up,” she
explains. At Café Atlantico, descriptions of cocktails incorporating molecular mixology are designated with quotation marks to
indicate the play on the classic drink presentation.
When molecular mixology techniques are in use behind the
bar, bartenders and servers also need to learn how the drinks
are made and be ready to educate patrons about a drink’s flavor
and texture profiles in descriptive, consistent language. If guests
haven’t already seen the cocktail mixed up or passing by their
table on a tray, they need to see a clear picture of it to understand
it and want to order it.
Whether complex techniques or simple slights of hand
are in use, a fine line exists between a well-made drink and
one where guests are made to wait. Though patrons may be
forgiving if a unique drink takes a few minutes to arrive, Durr
believes they are more aware of timing these days. Great bars
must be able to produce consistent drinks in a quick manner,
which Westphalen says may mean foregoing tools like the
more complicated Cryovac and carbonator. “Admirers point out
that these advances bring the flavor and textures of cocktails
to a new, more complex level. Detractors seem to think it’s too
much hype. I believe there is a bit of both,” he explains.
Ongoing kitchen and bar collaboration is inevitable and innovative, says Westphalen. “As long as chefs are developing
new methods in the kitchen, mixologists will borrow, adapt and
improve them behind the bar.”
For operators looking to pepper their drink lists with some
science, Durr recommends making sure you have first mastered
Bartending 101 by using fresh ingredients and mixing drinks properly before tackling the next level. Then, take a good look at the
existing program to decide what aspects of molecular mixology
will realistically work for your location, with your budget and for
your clientele. In other words, says Durr, “Don’t create crème
brûlée at a hamburger joint.” NCB
Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer and wine educator in the Washington, D.C.,
area. She can be reached through her web site, www.trywine.net.
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