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Science of Cocktails preview, by Science World

My media accreditation for the “Science of Cocktails” event at Science World was approved. And with my pass for the February 9th event, came a preview of things to come. Tonight, myself and some others were treated to an intimate night meant to excite and entice.

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The entire event is in support of the “Science World Class Field Trip Bursary”. A fundraising effort designed to give all kids the opportunity to attend a field trip to Science World, something I have done many times and it seems have simply taken granted of. To learn more about this great cause and to see what we would be drinking for, visit the link. https://www.scienceworld.ca/classbursary

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The preview was hosted at the “Clough Club” in Gastown, a Donnelly Group project already known for their craft cocktails, making them the perfect setting. The entire bar was closed for the set up and take down of this event. All three rooms that made up this unique lounge were in use. In corners, and on tables and counters chefs and mixologist set up their displays. Each with signs explaining the science behind their dish or cocktail, and why they found themselves at this showcase. Although the gentlemen and one the woman representing their businesses were more than enough to fill in visitors. Here, you had the ability to explore and mingle at your own leisure.

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The first drink station I visited was one that featured the technique of “Nitro Muddling”. Muddling is using a pestle and mashing up fruit or herbs to release its essential oils before mixing it with your liquors. Typically such a process leaves you with pieces of bruised greenery in your drink. Whereas using liquid nitrogen in the muddling process avoids this. The bartender mashes the herb into a fine ground powder. The end result is the flavour of a mojito without its tell tale leafy greens bobbing about. But, instead what is presented before you is a creamy green drink. And its smooth texture is worth all the work. There was a display of gin, lemon, and a bevy of herbs you could choose from. Most went with the more popular mint, I followed the bartender’s suggestion and went with the Thai basil with no regrets. The “Nitro Lady” is made with the Botanist gin, lemon juice, egg, sugar, orange bitters + that herb selection. To see the drink being made it action, click the play button.

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The next bartender I visited lacked a face. A robot that with a push of a button, was programmed to make you a negroni. He brought with him his handler: Derek Gaw, Co-founder of MakerLabs, who regulated the progress. A few lines of code allows his simple computer to control motors, belts, and valves to bring his robot to life. Derek was able to program the amount that each upside down bottle dispensed. A drip and a few drops from one bottle, before a conveyor belt of legos moved the glass along to the next upturned bottle. Once all four had their turn, the glass was removed and the mix ready to be drank. To watch this unlikely bartender, click play.

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The cocktail with the least amount of theatrics ended up being my favourite. The “Pina Clear-ada” is a pun for the translucent state of the drink. This is a “Clarified Cocktail”. A unique process that sees citrus added to burning milk, which curdles it; before it gets filtered through a very fine cheese cloth. The end result is a clear fluid, having lost its original brown hue. This is “liquid alchemy—based upon acid’s protein separating effects when mixed with dairy”. In the mixology world, it is more commonly known as “milk punch”. This one is prepared with Havana club rum, coconut water, falernum, demerara syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice, and scalded milk. With it, you get a more refreshing and true taste of a piña colada. It also comes with a better texture than any frozen and churned regular blended beverage of the like. I would love bottles of this to drink at home. However, sadly, the only place to get them in Vancouver is at the “Science of Cocktail” event.

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The last cocktail is one that is already regularly offered at “Clough Club”. A frozen gin and tonic slushie. Had I known this existed before today, I would have found my way to their patio all those summer’s past. A beautiful baby blue slush topped with a slice of fresh lime.

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We were then given a turn to be our own bartenders at the “Free Pour Challenge”. The long and short of it is you are competing to pour the perfect shot without measuring it. We were taught the pace in which to pour 1oz and 2oz into two beakers. I found myself against Kirby of “Eating With Kirby” blog, and lost badly for short changing my would-be customers, where as she was near close to perfect. Sadly the liquid was just water and we didn’t get to drink what we poured. Still fun.

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As is the case with the actual event, the preview also featured snacks made using equally impressive science-y techniques. My favourite was this pudding-like dessert, served in a plastic, double handled pot. “Showcase Restaurant & Bar” offered up meringue, passion fruit, kaffir lime, white chocolate, and coconut. It is churned all together with liquid nitrogen for a delicious creamy texture. As for the taste, it was slightly sour, but more sweeter with the addition of the crunchy cookie crumbles.

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“Emelle’s catering” served carrot and ginger spheres on meringue, coconut nests with a curry hollandaise, and a crispy basil spring. A lovely savoury and crunchy canapé. The science portion was the use of chemicals to turn the semi-liquid paste to a solid, and have it hold its shape.

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At the “Sysco” booth, two chefs offered slices of their tricoloured beet terrine served with poached prawn, chive pearls, fennel and orange foam. It was a stunningly visual display, light and fresh for the perfect side to any protein. My tongue enjoyed exploring all the different textures.

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The chefs at “Culinary capers” had pumpkin brule and red onion, with puffed seed on a black rice chip. They were light with the fried crisp, yet heavy with the flavour of the pipped brule. A contrast in flavours and textures that worked.

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In between all the eating and drinking, we were treated to displays of marvel and learning, from one of Science World’s actual scientists. He preformed with the aid of liquid nitrogen. He used the gas to suck the air out of a balloon animal and then reanimated it by blowing on it. Click the link to watch the video.

He also blew the lid off a Pringles container, and changed its colour with a chemical reaction. He did well to educate those of us drinking, with humour and patience, just as he would a class of 10 year olds. We were just as rowdy, and full of wide eye wonder.

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If this was but a taste of what the science of cocktail event was all about, I can only imagine the fun to be had on the actual night. Not only did we learn about their cocktail concepts and get to know their featured bartenders a little more, but we did all this while drinking. Something student day dreams about.

Tickets are still available for those looking to go. I advise getting yours soon. An event like this comes but once a year. This is their second run, after seeing the success of the first, last year. I am excited to be able to not only attend, but do so with a special media access and perspective. Stay tuned for the future review post.

To get your tickets visit their website. https://www.scienceworld.ca/cocktails