High-Tech Drinks for Amateurs and Pros: 3 Techniques, 7 Recipes


Cooking Issues

At this year's Star Chefs conference I whipped up some beaver-flapper puffs for the crowd to munch on (see here for recipe), and Nils and I liquored everyone up with a passel of cocktails.


A puffed whole beaver flapper.

Our 75-minute demo showcased three different techniques at three different attainability levels: rapid N2O infusion (within anyone's reach); centrifugation (uncommon, but not beyond reach); and rotary evaporation (out of most people's reach).


Rapid infusion makes flavored liquors almost instantly using nothing more than an iSi whipped cream whipper. This technique works really well, and anyone can do it. Briefly: Put any porous item into a cream whipper, charge it with N2O, swirl it for about a minute, vent, strain, and drink. Read this post for my blow by blow. [Editor's note: You can read Derek Brown's Food Channel piece about this Cooking Issues technique here.]

Many readers have commented that the liquors they've made with this technique improve after standing for several minutes. I have also noticed this effect, but I don't understand it. (Comments, anyone?)

We made three cocktails with rapid infusion:


Infusing with the ISI.

Cocktail #1: Spicy Ballsy Bullshot

The standard bullshot is beef bouillon, vodka, salt, and pepper. Beef bouillon isn't so great, and you wish you could use reduced beef or veal stock—but high gelatin content makes the stocks solid jellies at cocktail temperatures. What to do? Get rid of the gelatin. Freeze-thaw clarifying removes the gelatin from stock so you can reduce it a lot without turning it to glue (see the technique here). We made a very, very beefy one liter of reduction from two gallons of stock. We wanted to add some spice to the vodka, so we used rapid N2O infusion to add some jalapeno flavor. Most hot pepper infusions tend to get very spicy without tasting a lot like peppers. N2O infusions capture both heat and taste. We garnished with a pickled cherry tomato, which made the drink supremely satisfying. It's best enjoyed at the beginning of your evening or brunch, as a bracing short-poured drink—which is how we served it.


8 liters veal stock
water (the amount depends on how jellied your stock is)
1 liter vodka
60 grams seeded sliced jalapeno pepper
4 to 8 gram N2O Chargers
lime juice
splash of water
pickled cherry tomatoes

Freeze-thaw stock technique:

Add enough water (or vegetable stock) to the veal stock so that, when set, the stock won't be too gelatinous. Heavily set stock won't work—your yields will be low and the stock will take forever to clarify. Ideally, the stock shouldn't fully set at all (you want the equivalent of five to seven grams of sheet gelatin per liter of liquid, if that is helpful). Heat the stock to make sure it is homogeneous, pour it into two hotel pans, and let the pans sit in the fridge a couple of hours (this gives the gelatin time to cool down and do its thing). Freeze the stock overnight, or until completely frozen. Line two perforated hotel pans with four layers of cheesecloth and add the frozen stock (don't use a torch to get the frozen stock out of the hotel pans! Use brute force). Place the perforated pans over deep hotel pans and let the stock thaw for a day or two in the fridge; make sure your fridge isn't too cold. The liquid that drips from the thawing block will be clarified veal stock without gelatin (for more on clarification see here). After the clarification step, reduce the stock down to one liter.

An alternate, faster technique: clarify the consommé in the traditional manner with an egg raft, allow it to cool down to 40 C, and add one gram or so of Corolase 7089 enzyme per liter. Corolase (from AB Enzymes) will eat the gelatin. Wait half an hour and reduce your stock to one liter.

Jalapeno vodka technique:

Divide your jalapeno and vodka into two equal-sized batches. Add one of the batches to a half-liter iSi cream whipper, charge with two N2O chargers, agitate for one minute, then vent and open the whipper. Allow to rest for one minute, then strain the pepper from the vodka. Repeat with the second batch and allow the liquor to rest for 10 minutes before using.

The drink:

Mix vodka and consommé in equal parts. Add lime juice and salt to taste. You may add water if it's too strong for you, or an ice cube or two, and chill it in the fridge or freezer 'til it suits your fancy. Serve in shots garnished with a peeled pickled cherry tomato.


The crew: Grace, Nastassia, Jerry (our webmaster), AJ, Victor (who actually fried the puffs), and Clifford.

Cocktail #2: Chocolate N'Lemons, the Germanfrancisco Treat

My wife is the inspiration for this drink; while living in Frankfurt for four years she picked up a taste for eating chocolate ice cream with lemon sorbet. For the drink base we made a chocolate vodka with cocoa nibs. Good-tasting nibs, like Valrhona's, are essential for this recipe. We have tried three other types of nibs, including some expensive ones, and we don't like any them. Look for nibs that don't taste burned or overly acidic.


500 milliliters vodka
75 grams Valrhona cocoa nibs
2 to 8 gram N2O chargers
lemon juice
simple syrup (one part sugar to one part water)
candied ginger
pinch salt

Chocolate vodka technique:

Add the nibs and the vodka to a half-liter cream whipper (changing the size might change the recipe). Charge with eight grams N2O and swirl/shake for several seconds, then charge with an additional eight grams of N2O. Continue to agitate for a full minute and let rest an additional 20 seconds, then vent and open the whipper. (Here's a tip: Hold a quart container over the whipper as you vent; once the whipper starts to sputter, tilt the container to catch the liquid. You don't lose liquid and don't make a mess.) Allow the liquor to stay in the whipper for another minute or so, until the bubbling starts to subside. Strain out the nibs and pass the vodka through a coffee filter. Allow to rest several minutes before using. The leftover nibs aren't very good—all that remains is the bitterness.

The drink: Combine two parts chocolate vodka, ¼ part lemon juice, 1/3 to 1/2 part simple syrup, and a dash of salt. Stir briefly with ice, strain into an Old Fashioned glass, and garnish with candied ginger. This recipe requires very little sugar, even though the cocoa nibs are unsweetened, because the infusion technique leaves the bitterness behind.

Cocktail #3: Bangkok Daiquiri

A fairly straight-ahead daiquiri recipe, using rum that we infused with Thai basil, cilantro, and orange peel. Though daiquiris are normally made with white rum, we tried this recipe with the aged rum from our sponsor, Zacapa—different, but still great.

Ingredients: Makes 2

150 milliliters rum
10 grams Thai basil
5 grams cilantro
10 grams orange peel (pith removed)
iSi cream whipper
N2O charger
1 ounce simple syrup (one part sugar to one part water) (can be increased to 1 1/2 oz for a sweeter drink)
1 1/2 oz strained fresh lime juice
pinch salt


Add the rum, Thai basil, cilantro, and orange peel to the whipper and charge with N2O. Swirl the whipper for 30 seconds, allow to rest for 30 seconds more, give it a final swirl and vent the N2O to atmosphere. While venting, hold the whipper upright so the liquid stays inside. If possible, let rest another 30 seconds. Open the whipper and strain the infused rum into a metal shaker. Add simple syrup, lime juice, and salt and shake vigorously with plenty of ice for 12 to 15 seconds. Strain into two coupes. Drink.

NEXT: The next technique—centrifugation

Presented by

As Director of Culinary Technology of The French Culinary Institute at The International Culinary Center, Dave Arnold helps chefs achieve their most ambitious goals using new technologies, techniques, and ingredients. He also writes for the FCI's Cooking Issues blog. More

Dave Arnold began tinkering with restaurant equipment after earning his MFA from Columbia University's School of the Arts. After meeting chef Wylie Dufresne, Arnold became even more passionate about all things culinary (the high-tech cooking movement in particular) and focused his engineering and inventing skills on professional and home cooking.

Arnold is an award-winning food writer and contributing editor for equipment and food science at Food Arts, and he lectures around the country at universities and industry conferences. He has been featured in Food & Wine, TIME, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, The Economist, and Popular Science, among other publications. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons, and he received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Yale University.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus


Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.


Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.


How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Health

Just In