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10 Nov 2014 By

Pouring the perfect cocktail can be a serious business, with modern mixologists employing techniques that are more commonly found in a laboratory than behind a bar. You won’t believe the science that goes into the cocktails.

From Nicola Davis

The epicentre of Tony Conigliaro’s empire, the Drink Factory, is in an extremely hip location. But then, as master of the artisanal cocktail, a sleek, dimly-lit bar in London’s West End was never likely to be called home. Tucked within an old industrial building behind the Broadway market, its unprepossessing exterior seems in keeping with the fad for pseudo-anonymous speakeasies – though in this case it’s pretty convincing. No sign or tell-tale window dressing hints at its existence and I spend a good 10 minutes walking up and down, baffled, before I’m rescued and shown inside.

It’s bright, almost clinical; the kit looks as if it’s been swiped from a laboratory. Famed for cocktails that include a faux “prairie oyster”, a Bloody Mary creation served in a shell, and “the flintlock”, a gunpowder tea preparation dressed with a dazzling flame, you might be forgiven for thinking the laboratory setup is just another piece of Conigliaro’s showmanship, a touch of theatre for those curious enough to pay a visit.

But it isn’t. As Zoe Burgess, head of research and development, tells me, science – and scientific equipment – are key ingredients. “We look at things in great detail and like to get down into the nitty-gritty of ingredients and flavours,” she says. “To understand what’s going on in terms of the science and how we can use that to get better, cleaner flavours, or flavours which are more a representation of what we are looking for, really helps.”

And it’s not just those behind the bar who are interested in the chemistry of a cocktail – Burgess believes that consumers are getting savvy too. Fuelled by the analytical, experimental approach that’s flavour of the month in the kitchen, they are keen to understand the craftsmanship that goes into the perfect glassful.

Read the rest Guardian.


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