21 September 2011

We Requires you! - Drink Factory Cocktail

This week we start something a little bit different. We thought it might be an interesting idea to create a new cocktail, however the ingredients will be chosen by you!! Yes, you! The kind reader of this blog.

We want you to write to us, either over email, comment on the blog, facebook, twitter, whichever is easiest for you, and tell us what you think.
The cocktail will be built as below........

-Base Spirit-


-Juice -

Ideally we'd like to get one suggestion for each from you, however all ideas are welcome! The ingredients that are suggested most often for each section of the drink will be used in the final cocktail.

We will piece the cocktail together, however crazy or whatever general mish mash of ingredients we have, and make it work!

Once finished, the cocktail will be available over the bar at 69 Colebrooke Row.

Archive Cocktail - Hei Sour (2008)

Hei Sour
50ml Jasmine Shochu
25ml Lemon Juice
15ml Orgeat
Dash Ylang Ylang
Dbl Strain into Coupette
Lemon Zest Garnish

(artists impression rather than actual image)

John Gertsen On The History Of Cocktails and Why Punch Is Where It Is At

I think we can safely say, that many of us share some of the sentiments put forward by John Gertsen in the video.

Have a listen to him talk about why Punchs are "where it's at" and why bartenders don't actually serve cocktails...........

More videos from this brilliant series from TEDx will be on the way, including edible scents, the origins of taste, the science and craft of food and the incredible egg......

Saying Of The Week - Nietzche

"Serve those who cannot serve themselves and you are great......" - Nietzche

Flavour of the Week - Nettle

Showcased a few months ago in our Nettle Gimlet recipe, it is perhaps amongst the most under-utilised plants native to the UK and Europe.

Easily available either fresh, or pre-made as a cordial. In cooking, when the plant is soaked in water or boiled the stinging element is removed meaning they can be eaten and handled raw.

When cooked the flavour resembles that of spinach, however when raw, as they are often used in cocktails, the flavour is light and grassy. It works well with more herbacious spirits and citrus flavour.

15 September 2011

Dr Charles Spence Interview (part2)

Professor Charles Spence is the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory based at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University. He is interested in how people perceive the world around them. In particular, how our brains manage to process the information from each of our different senses (such as smell, taste, sight, hearing, and touch) to form the extraordinarily rich multisensory experiences that fill our daily lives.

6.Do you think cocktails and drinks can be as experiential as alot of food has become?

Yes on one hand there is maybe less that one can do in terms of sound and poral somatosensory texture with cocktails. However, on the other hand I think that there is more opportunity to play with colour and other unusual experiences.

I am currently working with a designer and some chefs to see when incongruity is used in food. So far, it seems that unusual colouring, things that do not taste as they look and hence give rise to surprise, is simething that you are more likely to come across in cocktails than in any other are of food or beverages. Think only for example, of blue curacao, orange flavour and blue colour.

7.If you could build a drinking / eating experience from the ground up what would it look like and what would it involve?

What we are really intrigued by at the moment is whether we could take flavour out of the mouth. It is relatively easy for me to give you feelings outside your body, by using a rubber hand, but what would it be like if you could make people experience flavours on their hands say, or on the outside of their cheek?

Already we have been playing a little with a rubber tongue, and can give some people a rubber tongue illusion....Whatever next!?

8.Can you break down the effect and the process involved in how each of our senses interact with one another and how this can then affect how we perceive something?

Yes, in fact the scientific approach that we and our colleagues adopt normally involves breaking the multisensory gestalt (or whole) down to a single pairing of senses at once. Once we understand, or at least once we think we understand, how colour affects taste and flavour say, only then may we bring sound into the equation....building or layering the senses one by one.

9.Do you have a favourite flavour or scent?

Currently, I love pulp by Byredo...Though I am not sure that it would taste as nice in a cocktail as on the skin. In terms of foods or odours, I love some of the exotic scents associated with South American fruits like guanabana that haven't yet made it over to the UK

10. Where do you see the future or scents and drinks heading?

I see a lot of exciting opportunities associated with functional scents. Some of the ideas are similar to those attached with aromatherapy, but the possibility is that synthetic scents may be more effective at alerting us / relaxing us...
I am also very excited about the possibilities associated with the latest innovations in technology. We are currently working on designing a cup that will make a drink appropriate sound only when the glass is lifted and tilted.

As when someone is taking a sip from from a drink. I also have a Japanese professor working in the lab on a virtual reality device that will allow one to change the colour of a drink to any shade you want as you are drinking it! Just possibly this will allow people to change the taste of a drink as they are drinking it simply by changing it's colour.

14 September 2011

Umami - The Fifth Taste

So we understand this is not a new phenomenon, as umami was discovered in 1908.

However I don't think we have done a post, specifically on Umami, on the blog. So here it is!
Umami basically describes a combination of saltiness, sweetness, sourness and bitterness, that also has a "feel" to it when inside your mouth.

It is present in MSG's and various foods.
Although readily used in cooking Umami, has yet to take hold of the cocktail world with such a strong grip, despite being present in various ingredients that can easily be taken out of the kitchen and behind the bar.

What would be interesting, from our point of view, though is if we could achieve the "feel" of Umami without the actual flavour, which often does not sit well with fruity and lighter notes.

Although research continues into foods and products that contain Umami, we are still in the experimental stages, when it comes to bars and umami cocktails. However below is probably some of the most interesting results from research which has already taken place. (From Sensory and Receptor Responses to Umami: An Overview of Pioneering Wor, Gary K Beauchamp, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009)

“Umami taste has all four flavour components: sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness. In addition, glutamate has the capacity of stimulating the feeling nerves of mouth and throat to produce the sensation known as ‘satisfaction."

So more than a feel, Umami can actually create a sensation. In theory this could mean we could harness that sensation and "Satisfy" people with only cocktails rather than submitting them to a dastardly full meal of non-liquid goodness. Potentially not the healthiest option however an interesting avenue to explore whilst wandering down the liquid path.

The current research shows that Sake and Shochu are the only spirits to contain Umami. Many of the the other products are foods such as meat and cheese, however there are several ingredients such as shiso, green tea, miso and soy that also contain Umami which could certainly be incorporated into a cocktail. Miso bloody mary's, shiso mojitos, are maybe the most obvious

Umami originates, or was most often used, in Japan where it is present in countless foods and every day ingredients. Dashi stock, which is made from kelp (kombu), and used in making white miso soup is probably one of the most famous Japanese imports to the western food market today. Dr Kikunae recognised early on that the active ingredient in kelp was the key to unlock it "deliciousness". He succeeded in 1908, and extracted Glutamate from the kelp. He was the first to coin the term Umami to describe this new taste sensation.

So, still in it's infancy there are a few Umami inspired drinks around. Ranging from Umami mixed with lager to one bar that has created an MSG powder that they can grind up into drink to get the same effect. It seems though that we are still in need of modifying the techniques and really making Umami as much of a fixture in bars as it is in kitchens.

Saying of the Week - To Build A Bartender

The Bartender (perfect)
Build all ingredients in shaker
2 part Artist

1 part actor/entertainer

1 part host

1/2 part student
Stir over ice
Strain with a garnish of quick wit

GJG Cowan - 1986 - 2011

Archive Cocktail - Royal Bermuda Yacht Club

Jim Meehan of PDT in New York introduced me to this Trader Vic drink whilst last in there.

Royal Bermuda Yachtclub Cocktail
2 oz Mt Gay Eclipse
1 oz lime juice
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz Falernum
Add all of the ingredients then add ice
Shake and strain into a chilled coupe
Garnish with a lime wheel

Flavour of the Week - Michelia Champaca

Michelia Champaca are the flowers of a tree native to Indonesian Islands and the Phillipines. In recent time the Melanes people have progressively brought the tree and flowers further west.

The Chinese have started to use the flowers in perfume production and have since created Michelia Leaf Oil which is pale yellow / green in colour with sweet oily grassy delicate grassy notes leading into a delicate sweet tea or hay-like fragrance which has undertones of sage and rose.

Flavour - Warm, floral, leafy similar to high grade teas.