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What the BLEEP is 'Molecular Mixology'!?!?!

If you are in the alcohol industry (and why are you here if you aren't?) I am sure you have heard the phrase 'Molecular Mixology' bandied about in your local watering hole.  Like most people, you probably have no clue what this phrase means other than it will probably jack up the price of your drink by about 10 bucks, which it probably will. But what most don't realize is that the price of that 'drink' is worth it! I put the word 'drink' in quotes because after your mixologist is done with it, it will no longer resemble a drink as much as a work of art, but more on that later. Lets start at the beginning, the molecular level if you will .  Nope, not gonna do that, this is serious business. 

Molecular mixology, by its purest definition, is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate, explain, and make practical use of the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur while subjecting ingredients to heat, cold, pressure, or other stimuli as well as the social, artistic, and technical components of the culinary and gastronomic phenomena in gereral.



Also pioneers in the chemistry business.


In laymans terms, molecular mixology is using science and chemistry to alter or change molecular properties of ingredients to change their states of matter. Imagine a whiskey flavored marshmallow, 7 layers of liquors in one glass, a carbonated mojito sphere served on a plate instead of a glass, or cotton candy made with vodka and you are getting pretty close. 


Now you don't need a chemistry set to become a molecular mixologist, but you will need a few tools to get started. Most of these can be purchased for a halfway reasonable price but some are downright insane. If you work at a mixology bar most of the pricier tools will be purchased by the bar owner but you will need a few bare essentials such as a Cocktail Master , ISI Whip, and a blowtorch. The Cocktail Master is for layering various liquors, the ISI Whip is for creating alcohol infused whip cream, and the blowtorch of course is for lighting stuff on fire!

One of the easiest things to do regarding molecular mixology is to layer ingredients based on the density of the liquid. It doesn't take a MENSA member to realize that denser, or heavier, liquids go on the bottom and lighter liquids go on the top. One insanely cool drink to try to layer is the traditional Hurricane. I am not talking about the one's that Pat O'Brien's on Bourbon St made world famous (which you can read about here). This one is a painstaking reminder of how beautiful cocktails can be. 

2 oz. cranberry syrup (not cranberry juice!)

1 1/2 oz. passion fruit juice

1 oz. blood orange uice 

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 oz. dark rum

1 oz light rum 

1 oz 151 rum

To make cranberry syrup heat a sauce pan and add 16 oz cold water, 14 oz granulated sugar, and 17 oz of fresh cranberries. Simmer over high heat until the cranberries burst, remove from heat, strain. To get the rest of the juice muddle the cranberries and strain thorugh a cheesecloth. Add to the juice and refrigerate. 

In a small carafe strain the ingredients as listed above using the Cockatil Master very slowly. Serve with a hurricane glass filled with ice. To try layering other liquors you can check out this chart on liquor density and remember the LOWER the density the LIGHTER it is. 


Another really cool drink to experiment with is the Cremé Brulee Martini simply because we get to use the blowtorch! 

2 oz. vanilla infused vodka

1 oz. Créme Anglasie (an English custard sauce)

1 dash of simple syrup

Shake and strain into a HEAT RESISTANT GLASS!! 

Dust heavily with icing sugar and CAREFULLY ignite the sugar with a blowtorch 

Garnish with hard caramel and serve with a small spoon

For the hard caramel garnish you need to prepare this early. Melt 2 parts sugar with 1 part water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until it turns an amber color. Drizzle the caramel onto parchment paper making sure the design is bigger than the glass. When it cools lay it over the glass. 


The last drink I have for you today is a wee bit tricky and will definitely take some trial and error. I speak of the Mojito spheres. This will include a very involved process called Reverse Sphereification. Take some time to watch the video and be prepared to screw this up a few times before you get it down!

1 1/2 light rum

2 oz club soda

12 fresh mint leaves

1 tsp sugar

1/4 oz lime juice

1/4 tsp calcium lactate 

2 grams sodium alginate

In a mixing glass put calcium lactate, sugar, lime and mint leaves. Muddle using a pestle, then mix in rum and club soda. Put small mint leaves in small round plastic molds. Filter mix into the molds and freeze. In a bowl, dissolve the sodium alginate in 2 cups of water with a hand blender. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes until ALL the air bubbles have escaped the liquid (very imortant step!). Unmold the ice balls into the sodium alginate bath and let sit for 3 minutes. Remove the mojito balls from the bath with a slotted spoon and amaze your guests! 

I hope you guys have fun exploring your new avenue of the mixology world. Be creative and have a blast!


Jason Mitchell

Texas School of Bartenders