Edible cocktails and the science of spherification

Jenner Tomaska is the former Executive Chef at NEXT/Alinea and twice-nominated James Beard Rising Star. At the Halo Awards, he will be preparing “edible cocktails” using a culinary process called spherification. Photos courtesy of Chef Steps.

With the Halo awards coming up on October 12, I thought it would be fun to show a preview of what you can expect during the cocktail reception. To help celebrate these great scientists and do the awards theme justice, we’ll be creating “edibile cocktails” using the science of spherification, a modern technique to encapsulate a cocktail within a thin membrane that bursts in your mouth when you take a bite. Learn below how to make your own or just get a ticket to the Halo Awards and try one of mine.

Step 1: Create a base of water mixed with alginate

Mix water with alginate, a polysaccharide found in algae that thickens in the presence of water and ions like calcium.

Step 2. Create a second base of any cocktail mixed with calcium

Add 2% calcium lactate by weight to any flavored “cocktail base.”

Step 3. Drop base liquid in alginate

Scoop base liquid and drop into alginate just above the surface. When you pour the liquid into the bath, the spherical shape forms thanks to surface tension.  The density of the base and the bath affect the surface tension and the resulting shape.

Step 4. Stir for two minutes, then rinse with water

Coat spheres for about two minutes. Then remove spheres and rinse in a holding bath.

Step 5. Store in flavored liquid

Store spheres in the same flavored liquid to prevent the loss of flavor through osmosis.  Do not store in water.

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