Mixology Meets Mad Science

The Cocktail Hour at the World Science Festival Gala is equal parts reception and laboratory

Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan for The World Science Festival
Smoking cauldrons made their way around the room, filled with popcorn clusters dipped in nitrogen, not unlike a sophisticated, grown-up version of Pop Rocks candy.

I don’t normally recommend partaking in drinking and conducting science experiments at the same time, but it’s a lot of fun (and much safer) when you leave the concocting to the professionals and stick with the consumption, as I did at the World Science Festival Gala this Monday at the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s classic and chic Rose Hall.

Overlooking a misty Columbus Circle, attendees raised their edible glasses to the woman of the hour and the night’s honoree, Dr. Mary-Claire King, best known for discovering the breast cancer genes.  The edible Loliware cups are made of gelatin and can be flavored to complement their contents. The pleasantly mild, citrus-flavored ones at the reception held a ginger beer float made with coconut sorbet from Il Laboratorio del Gelato. The cups are reusable, though sadly, I had to settle for a short order after I thoughtlessly nibbled mine down.

Kevin Denton, the mixology mastermind of wd~50 and Alder was serving up a more potent formula, combining vodka, Lillet and fragrant Ki Japanese Bitters from Shoots and Roots. The three botanists behind the brand create their potions from more than a hundred plants from all over the world, resulting in half a dozen flavors that are both unique and complex.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then the signature cocktail of the evening came out of a need to alleviate the hangover. Courtesy of Kevin Denton, the Sparkling Blue Moon combines Hendrick's gin, Lillet, and champagne acid that has been extracted, essentially leaving the sugar and its potential effect on your morning state, behind.

The night’s creative recipes weren’t limited to the drinks and it seems nitrogen and food are still having a moment. Smoking cauldrons made their way around the room, filled with popcorn clusters dipped in nitrogen, not unlike a sophisticated, grown-up version of Pop Rocks candy. Even more inventive were the Kyl21 popsicles from David Marx of the Science Kitchen in Berlin. The rice-based vegan pops were made right in front of me by David himself. The "cream" was poured into sleek geometric molds and frozen almost instantly with liquid nitrogen. The result is an incredibly smooth texture without the use of animal fats.

As we well know, learning is best done by doing and after eating and drinking in the world of molecular gastronomy, I left the Science Festival Gala feeling quite the accomplished student.

 


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