SENSORY COCKTAILS WITH THOMAS ASKE
Forget your cocktails just tasting great, what about sounding, smelling and looking amazing as well! Thomas Aske, from the Fluid Movement consultancy, shares his thoughts on creating modern sensory cocktails that will give your customers that wow experience.
THE MAN BEHIND THE MASKE
My career in hospitality began over 20 years ago. In 1998, the theatrics of cocktail-making was mesmerising to guests. Part of the appeal of a Cosmopolitan, one of the era’s most popular orders, was the flash from the orange zest during the process – indicating an experience was afoot.
In 2010, with a rapidly changing global cocktail culture, I co-founded Fluid Movement - a consultancy business that played a major part in bringing multi-sensory cocktails to the masses.
LIBATIONS TO EVOKE SENSATIONS
When we opened our ﬁrst bar, Purl, in the spring of 2010, theatrics in bars and restaurants were conﬁned to either Michelin starred restaurants or branded cocktail competitions. Our aim was to change that.
We introduced liquid nitrogen, dry ice, fogs, foams and fragrance to drinks and worked hard to make them accessible to the masses. Using these ingredients to create textural and sensory cocktails at a price point the guest could aﬀord was a tricky act to balance, initially.
This was the beginning of a cocktail revolution that spawned similar bars such as Nightjar, Artesian and The Blind Pig. Guests revelled in the dramatic delights and bartenders thrived in a creative environment that allowed the freedom to express themselves.
Today the trend is still growing, and the creative demands of the bartender are being stretched like never before. However, it is essential that with the opportunities for creativity, the roots of the cocktail remain ﬁrmly in what makes a great drink. It simply must taste good.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN SENSORY COCKTAILS
In creating a great cocktail, the bartender can attempt to evoke as many senses as is possible. If a drink can evoke sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, you’ve made a great start. But if you can then tie in an emotive element - then you are creating dynamite.
A truly unforgettable cocktail provides the guest with a 360-degree experience, bringing the whole story of the drink to life. Below are some of my favourite multi-sensory drinks we have showcased in the past decade.
This cocktail was the first drink I encountered designed to evoke the sense of sound.
Initially created by Ryan Chetiyawardana of Dandelyan fame, the exploding garnish became a ﬁrm favourite due to its ability to attract the attention of nearby tables.
The shock factor of the exploding balloon would always result in nearby guests wanting to know which cocktail it was and usually ordering one soon after.
- 30ml Johnnie Walker Black Label
- 20ml Sloe Gin
- 25ml lemon juice
- 25ml egg white
- 15ml Gomme
- 3 x dashes liquorice bitters
- Glass: Coupe
- Garnish: Helium detonate lemon zest
- Add two drops of lemon oil into the balloon.
- Fill the balloon with helium and tie,
- Tie the magicians string to both the balloon and the stem of the glass.
- Shake all ingredients and double strain into chilled glass.
- Serve at the table and light the magicians string near the stem of the glass.
DETONATED LEMON ZEST
- Helium canister
- Lemon oils
- Magicians fuse (string)
Alcohol content: 19.9g per serve
- 35ml Don Julio Blanco
- 20ml Clariﬁed ACE juice
- 20ml Pink Peppercorn Heering
- 10ml Cocchi Americano
- Glass: Nick + Nora
- Garnish: Thyme air + Blueberry paint
- Gently paint the blueberry paint on the inside of the chilled Nick and Nora glass.
- Add all cocktail ingredients into an ice ﬁlled mixing glass.
- Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into the chilled, painted glass.
- Activate the ﬁshtanks pump to create the air and gently skim the air to place on top of the cocktail using a julep strainer.
Alcohol content: 15.6g
CLARIFIED ACE JUICE
- 250m orange, carrot and lemon juice in equal parts
- 50ml orange, carrot and lemon juice in equal parts (kept separate from the above)
- 1.5g Agar ﬂakes
- Whisk the Agar ﬂakes into 250ml of the room temperature ACE juice.
- Heat the above ACE/Agar mix until the liquid reaches boiling point. At this point gently whisk and allow the Agar to hydrate fully. This will take approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Slowly pour the 500ml of room temperature ace juice into the mixture until it has been fully integrated.
- Place the container holding the juice into an ice bath until the solution begins to solidify.
- Place the semi solid liquid into a super bag or chinois with a collecting vessel below allowing the curds to separate from the liquid.
- The liquid collected should be semi translucent (this will keep for up to one week refrigerated).
PINK PEPPERCORN HEERING
- 500ml Cherry Heering
- 150g Pink Peppercorn
- Place the Cherry Heering and pink peppercorns in a vacuum bag or ziplock bag.
- Cook in a sous vide water bath for three hours at 50c or leave to macerate at room temperature overnight.
- Strain the liquid through a muslin cloth into the evaporation ﬂask of a rotary evaporator.
- Distill the liquid under pressure to concentrate the aromatics of the peppercorn and clarify the Heering.
- Bottle and refrigerate.
- 100ml Blueberry Liqueur
- 1g Xanthan gum
- 1.Gently whisk the xanthan gum into the blueberry liqueur until it forms a thick enough solution to be painted.
- 2.The solution should be thick enough to stick to the inside of the glass without blending with the components of the cocktail.
- 100ml Hot Water
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1g Lecithin
- Brew the thyme sprigs in the hot water for ﬁve minutes.
- Finely strain the liquid to remover the spent thyme leaves.
- Whilst the liquid is hot, whisk the lecithin into the thyme water using a hand blender.
- Using a ﬁsh-tank pump, aerate the liquid to form delicate air bubbles on the surface.
- The air can then be used to layer on the top of the cocktail.
Looking to the future of multi-sensory drinking, it is easy to see a shift towards incorporating more technology to serves. We have already seen the integration of augmented reality in menus and VR-inspired cocktails.
The next wave of innovation will see the use of proximity beacons to push information to guests’ smartphones as the drink arrives at the table. Perhaps this information will be about the drink or maybe an automatic link to an emotive video to enhance the story around the drink.
In the not so distant future, the overall cocktail experience will be a fully immersive one that takes the drinker to a new world; a world of ﬂavour.
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