Some months ago I was told that the mad scientists behind Purl were going to open up a new bar, and that got me pretty excited. Sure enough they launched the Worship Street Whistling Shop and as I wrote recently it’s a great bar serving innovative cocktails. Now just before they opened they told me they had plans for a special cocktail experience in a room they were calling the ‘Cocktail Emporium’ but until yesterday this was just something whispered about in dark corners. A myth. A legend.
Well as of last night the myth has become real, and I was lucky enough to be invited down to sit through a cocktail experience that I was assured would tickle all of my senses. With no more information than that, I made my way into the basement bar that is The Worship Street Whistling Shop, where I was immediately greeted by my host for the evening, Tristan Stephenson, who then quickly ushered me through the bar to a small door hidden in a dark corner.
I’ve been planning to write a blog about ‘molecular mixology’ for some time… but this isn’t it. It’s a term that has been floating around the drinks industry for a few years now, but one that has baffled me somewhat. Soon I will be sitting in on a molecular mixology workshop, and hopefully it will help me come to terms with this style of bartending, but in the meantime I thought I’d write about three bars I visited the other night, all of which have to some extent been tarred with the molecular brush.
The issue I have with the name ‘molecular mixology’ is that it seems to be used to refer to any bar or drink that is made with non-traditional methods. Put a foam on top of your daiquiri and it’s ‘molecular’, age a cocktail either in a bottle or a cask and once again ‘molecular’, dehydrate an ingredient and turn it into a powder… you guessed it, ‘molecular’. My mind tells me that we’ve chosen the wrong label for this style of bartending. Yes these are new ways of making drinks, yes they employ methods that weren’t used when Jerry Thomas was plying his trade, and yes they often lead to drinks being presented in new and interesting ways… but are they really molecular cocktails?