“Biologically Aged” Cocktails: Bartenders Take on Fermentation
Source: Punch Drink
Before the advent of barrel-aged cocktails, the order of operations in creating a drink was clear: distill spirit; age in barrel (should it be required); mix cocktail; serve.
Recent developments upended that order—namely barrel-aged cocktails, which added another step sending entire cocktails into a barrel for aging. And while alcohol is usually produced long before any notion of a specific cocktail comes into the picture, a few enterprising bar folk have begun to augment that order too—by using yeast to produce their very own fermented cocktail ingredients.
In unrelated bar programs, 5000 miles apart, Ryan Chetiyawardana of White Lyan in London and Jeff Josenhans of Grant Grill in San Diego have begun working with yeasts—and, in the case of Chetiyawardana, koji mold—to explore how they might impact texture and flavor in drinks.
To understand the years of R&D behind Chetiyawardana’s “biologically aged” cocktails, one must understand the barman himself, a boundary-pushing bartender with a background in biology. A glance over the menu at his London bar tells you as much.
There’s the vodka-based Bone Dry Martini, made with an actual bone tincture of roast chicken bones dissolved in phosphoric acid. There’s the Moby Dick Sazerac, which employs ambergris (a sperm whale excretion highly valued by perfumers) to lift and elevate aromas just as it does in a bottled fragrance. (“It sounds like a gimmick ingredient, but isn’t; the translation of aroma is unlike anything else, it lifts flavors right off your tongue,” he assured me.)
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