Think there’s a fly in that drink?
Think again. That’s the trendiest cocktail this side of
science. Last fall, MIT researchers made news for developing
this moving cocktail boat, and a pipette that looks like a water lily.
Both garnishes play with surface tension, a special property of liquids. The project is a collaboration with renowned
chef José Andrés, a lecturer at Harvard’s “Science and Cooking”
course. To see how their ideas are moving from the
lab to the kitchen and the bar, we visited Andrés’s headquarters, ThinkFoodGroup, in
Washington DC. Research and Development director Rubén García says the challenge is about
more than making things safe to eat. GARCÍA: Not only edible, but something that
tastes good. The idea can be great, but at the end everything ends in the same place which is in your mouth. But that doesn’t mean exotic ingredients. GARCÍA: So the boat and the flower, they’re
made from gelatin- vegetable gelatin that you can find in the
supermarket. The edible flower pipette works best in cold
liquids- where the gelatin can’t dissolve. But when conditions are right, it works just like the original. Meanwhile, ThinkFoodGroup’s cocktail innovator,
Juan Coronado, is kicking the cocktail boat up a notch. He makes them with raspberry gelatin…
and a touch of St. Germain elderflower liqueur. Like the flower, these boats come from silicone
molds, with help from a 3D printer. Also like the flower, they work best at cold
temperatures. Coronado pre-chills his glassware. Coronado’s cocktail contains elderberry cordial
for color and flavor. He’s dropping a high-proof alcohol like Bacardi
151 into the boat. The boat runs on the same fuel as the original:
surface tension. CORONADO: The difference between the ABV’s
of the two alcohols, the one that I am adding to the boat and the
one that is already in the cocktail is what causes the cocktail [boat] to propel. When you were kids, you know,
I don’t know if you ever put like a little piece of paper in your bathtub,
and then the soap. And you know, it creates that tension as well. Grown ups will have to be patient- these prototypes
aren’t at restaurants yet. ThinkFoodGroup is always on the lookout for
science that inspires. Just don’t tell them that this work is molecular
gastronomy. GARCÍA: It’s not molecular gastronomy. All gastronomy is molecular. For Chemical & Engineering News, I’m Carmen