Beverage Media
February 2013
main elderflower liqueur, celery, cucumber,
lemon) and the Avenue 1111 (Tanqueray,
lime cordial, ginger beer, mint).
San Francisco is also a hotbed of bub-
bles. At Chez Papa Resto, General Man-
ager AdamChapman carbonates cocktails
three different ways, using soda siphons,
carbonated cocktail shakers and yeast.
“We bottle cocktails so that we have more
time for garnishing and someone can get
a drink quicker. I also use this technique
to keep a drink chilled by having the
cocktail in an ice bath and pouring out as
needed into the glass,” he says. Carbon-
ated specialties on the menu include the
French 75 (carbonated gin, pressed lem-
on, Blanquette de Limoux Brut sparkling
wine) and Remember The Maine (rye
whiskey, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heer-
ing, burnt absinthe tincture).
How to Carbonate
In 2011, Perlage (makers of a system to
preserve opened bottles of sparkling wine)
introduced the Perlini Carbonated Cock-
tail Shaker ($99), a device that functions
like a traditional shaker—just add ice and
ingredients—but is pressurized with car-
bon dioxide. A restaurant version ($496)
comes with three shakers and a com-
mercial pressurizer that can connect to a
stand-alone CO
tank or can be spliced
into an existing dispensing system. This
is how carbonated cocktails on tap work
at places like Tavernita in Chicago and
Sanctuaria St. Louis.
Table’s Ratliff used to use the iSi Twist
’n Sparkle (the product has been recalled
for issues with exploding), but he moved
on to a larger Cornelius keg (used by
the soft drink industry to store and dis-
pense soda). “The latter allows them to
be served on tap, which is the only way
we are allowed to serve them now in
North Carolina.” (Ratliff is still trying to
get the NC ABC to allow Table to serve
bottled carbonated cocktails.)
Other establishments have taken
to building their own systems, like New
York’s Booker and Dax. Dave Arnold, co-
owner and the head of culinary technology
at the French Culinary Institute, built
a CO
rig and developed a method for
carbonating. The key is clarifying all the
ingredients using wine fining agents and a
centrifuge, and keeping them cold. While
some bartenders carbonate individual
ingredients before mixing, Arnold
batches everything pre-carbonation.
Book and Dax has a dedicated section
on their cocktail menu called “Bubbles”
like the Hatchback (Campari, tequila,
lime, grapefruit) and the Chartruth
(Chartreuse, lime).
Better Bubbles
The book
Fix the Pumps
, by bartender
turned blogger Darcy S. O’Neil, has be-
come the manual for fizz. Described by
the author as “a wealth of information on
techniques employed by soda jerks,” he
ascertains the creativity of bygone soda
fountains to be very relevant to the current
cocktail craze.
However, there are a lot of conflicting
theories and methods for making carbon-
ated cocktails. Much depends on the type
of system being used, as well as the bar-
tender’s personal preference. Trial and er-
ror has elicited quite a few blog posts and
chat room debates on the subject.
Ratliff‘s advice: “Keeping the mix-
ture cold is a necessity as CO
is absorbed
more readily that way. I would say for large
batches, it’s best to perfect your small
recipe first and then build incrementally.”
At a seminar during last year’s Portland
Cocktail Week, Booker and Dax’s Arnold
also spoke of refrigeration, citing 22°F
as ideal.
Don’t go overboard with carbonat-
ing everything behind the bar, says Chez
Papa Resto’s Chapman: “Don’t mess with
a good thing, and definitely don’t try to
pull off carbonating things like red wine
or Fernet. Simply use the bubbles to pull
out flavors and texture in a drink.” He
cites a drink he calls Margarita Cham-
pagne where he carbonates the tequila
with some agave, Grand Marnier, lime
zest and citric powder. “The drink has the
same amount of alcohol but less liquid.
It’s cleaner on the palate and has all the
essences of a margarita.”
Lieberman likes to use strong spirits in
carbonated cocktails. “I find that intense
flavors, ones that might otherwise be off-
putting to some, do really well in these
drinks,” he says. “The Americano is a great
example: Campari is potent, bitter stuff,
but when combined with sweet vermouth
and orange oil and given some efferves-
cence, it’s surprisingly refreshing.”
Based in the Boston area, Brandy Rand has spent her
career in the spirits industry and now is a consultant,
educator and writer. Her website is brandyrand.com.
Restaurant version of the
Perlini carbonation system
ot everyone is pumped for
carbonation. Boston bartender
Todd Maul is known for his
scientific approach behind the bar, but won’t
make carbonated cocktails. “I call it juggling
flaming monkeys,” he says. “The process of
doing something that has no real effect in the
glass. Does a Negroni become a better drink
with carbonation? No.”
Maul also feels carbonating something
over 30% alcohol by volume is dangerous:
“Your body absorbs carbonation faster. Think
about how quickly you become tipsy with
Beyond the rate of absorption, concerns
have also been raised about the safety of the
various carbonation systems. In July of 2012,
the popular iSi Twist ’n Sparkle carbonation
system was entirely recalled due to reported
cases of the plastic bottles exploding.
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