Using the Sous Vide Cooking Technique to Percolate Cocktails
Every once in a while, I’ll read a game changing article about Mixology. This one comes from Brian Van Flandern who was recognized as “America’s top Mixologist” by the Food Network.
Brian talks about infusions, and specifically how they’re everywhere these days. I couldn’t agree more, we did a Masquerade Event for Halloween, and the two drinks we featured, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Bubblegum infused Vodka, and Coke or Fresh Lemon/Lime Juice), and The Long Halloween (Absinthe, Gin, Begonia flowers, Cardamom, Ginger, Edible Flowers) were both essentially infusions.
Alcohol works as a solvent, so when you put something in it, any essential oils will be absorbed by the alcohol itself. There are actually 5 ways to add flavor to spirits, these are:
Compounding- Adding natural or artificial flavors to a spirit after distillation. Think all the flavored Vodkas you see in the liquor store.
Distillation- Adding materials to the base before distillation takes place which lets the ethanol adhere to them as the spirit is created. Gin is made this way, by use of a “Gin Head” that allows the vapors to pass through the botanicals.
Maceration- Crushing or muddling the flavors into the drink, as in an Old Fashioned.
Infusion- Put something in a jar and just add alcohol.
Percolation- Cooking the spirit.
Cooking is difficult because ethanol evaporates before water does, so you have to get a little creative, but it unleashes new flavors.
In “Secrets of the Sommeliers” Rajat Parr waxes poetic about the differences between underripe and overripe pineapples and how the flavors change and get more complex and they’re cooked and the sugar caramelizes.
Well, now you can percolate ethanol, by cooking “Sous Vide,” a traditional French technique that involves cooking underwater. Put ingredients and spirit in an airtight bag.
I’m excited to experiment with this for our next event/menu design. I’ll keep you posted.