Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Emily's Chemistry Adventures: Dressed Up Vodka Tonic

It's a stretch to call this an adventure, since it was super-easy and I knew it would work. My actual chemistry adventure was a bit of a failure due to a misinterpretation of an ingredient... but I'll get to that at the end. First, I had this calcium chloride bath sitting around from last week, so I decided to get some nice fruit juice to spherify. I had no luck finding what I wanted (which was guava), so I grabbed a can of mango nectar at H-Mart and made this fun and simple cocktail:Today's Chemicals:
  • Sodium Alginate
  • Calcium Chloride
The spheres are pretty straight-forward. All you need is sodium alginate and juice...You can totally use a blender for this, but cleaning blenders makes me cranky so I just used a bottle with air-tight lid and shook vigorously to combine 200g mango nectar, 30g filtered water, and 0.6g sodium alginate. (The setting bath was the same as last week.)
I used my trusty syringe to drop the mango mixture into the calcium chloride bath...
... then rinsed in a clean water bath and was ready to serve.
This type of thing (I'm thinking peach or strawberry spheres in particular) would be a fun garnish for champagne, but I didn't want to open a bottle for just me... which led me to the only other fizzy thing in my house (besides beer): tonic water. I tried this a couple ways, and settled the one I'll share here for its enhanced sphere-floating effects. The drink starts by pouring 2 ounces of chilled tonic into a cocktail glass, then adding the mango spheres. The carbonation in the tonic will pick up the spheres and start floating them all around...
Meanwhile, put 2 ounces of vodka and a half-ounce of Cointreau in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Gently pour into the glass along one of the walls, and you have an adorable and tasty dressed up vodka tonic.As you drink this, the mango spheres do sort of a lava lamp thing, floating up and down. It's kind of cool. Whenever a sphere is included in your sip, you get a nice bright burst of mango flavor in your mouth. Good stuff. On to my failure, which was delicious but not how it was supposed to be.
I was making mozzarella spheres to serve with mini heirloom tomatoes, basil, and some awesome homemade pesto from the freezer. I mistook the liquid in the container of fresh buffalo mozzarella for the whey from the cheese-making process, but read too late that it was actually just lightly salted water. This screwed up the chemistry and didn't allow a strong enough shell to form around the delicious mozzarella mixture. This could have been rectified in the beginning if I'd just added some calcium lactate gluconate to the mix, but I discovered too late. I'm pretty confident that it will be perfect next time, and I'll post the details of this dish then...

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