Three cocktails with foam and garnish

Cocktail Air 101

Enhance your serves and create a more immersive sensory experience for your guests, by adding unique textures and a visual interest with cocktail airs.

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

So you’ve mastered a good cocktail shake and love the aeration and brightness you achieve on a standard cocktail. If you’re looking for a way to raise the bar even further - to give the guest something that elevates their experience - to dial that frothy, light texture all the way up to 11, you should consider a cocktail air.

What is a Cocktail Air?

A cocktail air is a culinary technique, similar to a foam yet with larger bubbles and a lighter texture. This opens up a new way to play with texture and flavour with your cocktails. Because both an air and a foam rest on top of the larger cocktail they are often the first part of the cocktail experienced and tasted. Done correctly they will keep their bubbles for a long enough time to transmit both aroma and flavour to your serve.

A good air is more than simply visual, it should create unique experiences like contrasting textures or layered flavour pairings that allow the drink to evolve or be experienced in multiple ways in a single glass.

Getting Started

To properly make a good cocktail air you’re going to need a few extra tools in your bar kit.

  • Foaming Agent
  • Gram Scale
  • Immersion Blender
  • Fish Bubbler (optional)


There are many different options that all produce different results, you can dive deeper into these options here, but two of the easiest to get started with are soy lecithin and sucrose esters (these are inexpensive and easily purchasable online.)

While Soy Lecithin may be more commonly used, my preference is for sucrose ester. The bubbles you can get are lighter and the air frothier. As an added benefit sucrose ester will froth up in the presence of alcohol easier than Soy Lecithin. Meaning that if you wanted to add a liqueur to your air sucrose ester would still foam up easier.

We’ll get to how to use the other tools in the basic recipe.

Basic Air Recipe

You’ve got all your tools assembled and now it’s time to construct your air. To do so you’re going to need a basic template. A good air should incorporate an element of the base cocktail's topping. For this recipe a good place to start with is this Salted Citrus Air.

One of the great things about this basic recipe is its versatility. The slight saltiness helps to cut through the acid while this citrus component ties into the citrus component of many of the most popular cocktails in the world like margaritas and daiquiris. It is also easily adaptable.

Salted Citrus Air Recipe

  • 250ml filtered water
  • 125ml lime juice
  • 3g sucrose ester
  • 3g salt

Cocktail Air Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a round container.
  2. Whisk together using the immersion blender. This will start the foaming process.
  3. Gently scoop out the bubbles out and place them on your drink - a julep strainer works great for this.

Salted Sunset Blood Orange Citrus Air Recipe

This is the perfect cocktail air to add to a Don Julio Blood Orange Margarita.

Using the Salted Citrus Air recipe above as a base, simply replace 100ml of the lime juice with blood orange juice and follow the same method above.

  • 250ml filtered water
  • 100ml blood orange juice
  • 25ml lime juice
  • 3g sucrose ester
  • 3g salt

Cloud Top Air Recipe

This fruity cocktail air is ideal for topping on tropical serves like this Zacapa Sunset Serenade.

  • 135ml filtered water
  • 125ml coconut water 
  • 75ml pineapple juice
  • 75ml lime juice
  • 3g sucrose ester
  • 3g salt

Taking all the ingredients, follow the cocktail air method above.

Elevate airs with herbs

Want to add a herbal component like rosemary or basil? Simply bend 10g of the herb with the water, citrus, and salt before adding the sucrose ester. Fine strain to remove and particulate and then add the sucrose ester and blend as regular.

Key Takeaways

  • Why use a Cocktail Air? It’s a great technique to add texture and flavour to elevate the experience of your cocktail
  • Getting Started: Basic equipment needs are a foaming agent, like sucrose ester, a gram scale, immersion blender, and a fish bubbler for service.
  • Get Creative: Start with a sure fire format like the Salted Citrus Air and add your own twists and creativity to it.
  • Flavour Pairings and Texture: Consider contrasting as well as complimentary flavours and textures for your air and cocktail. How will they interact individually and as a complete experience?
  • Have Fun! Cocktail air is sure to wow your guests and spark conversations, so be sure to keep it light! (See what we did there?)