Fizzy cocktails are nothing new. The Tom Collins, gin and tonic, French 75, Champagne cocktail and good old rum and Coke have been tickling noses for decades, if not centuries. But these days, bartenders in New York and San Francisco are making house-carbonated cocktails, and to hear them tell it, the results are way more interesting than simply adding a little splash of sparkle -- in the form of soda water, soda pop, tonic water or Champagne -- to a drink.
The trick is to carbonate the entire cocktail, not just pour something carbonated into it. Molecular mixologist and envelope-pusher Richie Moe of Citizen Public House loves taking on the next big thing, so he and his right hand man Brandon Casey plan to unveil their first carbonated and bottled cocktail on New Year's Eve. Here's what they have in mind.
Although the two haven't named their cocktail yet, they do have their first recipe: a dry, crisp white wine, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and oleo saccharum. Three ingredients, super simple. Moe says the sugar in the oleo saccarum (think of it as citrusy simple syrup) will balance out the acid in the wine. Meanwhile St. Germain, which has citrusy undertones of its own, is commonly mixed with sparkling white wine. See where we're going here?
Moe says he wants this first one to be very lively, like a Champagne cocktail. Sounds just right for ringing in the New Year, doesn't it?
He bought himself a little 1.5 gallon keg with two tubes, one feeding the CO2 in, the other feeding CO2 out. The trick, he says, is adjusting the gauge to get the right amount of pounds per square inch. This is where the whole science-y "molecular" part comes in. Moe says he and Casey will have to experiment a bit to figure out just how much CO2 to add. When they get it right, they'll have a lovely effervescent drink. They're starting with still wine, but may try using frizzante or spumante down the line.
Meanwhile, they've been saving tiny ginger beer bottles (manufactured by Fever Tree), which they plan to de-label and use for their individually bottled cocktails. Moe figures they'll sell for somewhere between $10-$12. The mini bottles will be stoppered with custom caps that say either "Citizen Public House" or "Citizen R&D." Sure, it all sounds novel and fun. Some might even say it's gimmicky, but not Moe and not other bartenders who've taste-tested the results -- because there's a discernible upside to offering a chilled and bubbly cocktail that doesn't require ice. No ice means no dilution. Carbonated, bottled and chilled cocktails taste true (or more accurately, true but with a certain je ne sais quoi) not watered down.
Moe emphasizes that he's not sure, at this point, how it will all play out. Will he have a New Year's Eve-worthy cocktail by New Year's Eve? Probably. But surely he realizes that facing the unknown is half the fun of being a mad scientist.