For most people, scientific experiments with cocktails are limited to ongoing research projects such as, "How many beers does it take to me to dance (and not care what other people think)?" or "Will I truly be sicker if I have wine before liquor?" While noble pursuits all, the truth is that everyone always forgets to take notes, and the scientific methods used are suspect at best. And no, doing shots out of test tubes doesn't count as science.
Once again the folks at the Exploratorium, experts in making learning fun, are delivering real science and cocktails at their fourth annual Science of Cocktails. By matching a team of renegade scientists (ok, they're probably not renegades, but they are cool) with some of the Bay Area's best bartenders, they aim to reveal the truth behind what's at work inside your drink.
The first such event at the museum's new home on Pier 15 will include Dr. Julie Yu, who has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and will be using liquid nitrogen to turn Kahlua and cream into tiny spheres you can eat with a spoon. While not something you'll make at home, Dr. Yu will explain the process and chemistry while mixing up each batch.
Senior scientist Paul Doherty will provide live analysis of the physical and chemical properties of shaken versus stirred cocktails and hopefully get to taste the difference. And if you are your own favorite drinking companion, find out how to extract your own DNA using alcohol. Instructions on creating your own clone are not included.
On the bartender side, expect liquid (or solid, even possibly gas) presentations by Morgan Schick and Eric Quilty of Jupiter Olympus, who in years past have constructed fantastic contraptions in the pursuit of a better drink. Also on hand will be Chris Lane (Ramen Shop) and Ethan Terry (Alembic) who will whip you up an instant infusion of your choice: Simply choose your botanicals and alcohol will be infused under pressure.
For those of us who are more art than science, Benjamin Cowden of Twentyseven Gears, the interactive mechanical sculptor, will be onsite with a Corpse Reviver machine. The device measures, pours, and cools each cocktail. Finally over at the Tinkering Studio, Eric Muller and the gang will have cool bar tricks along with activities you can do using cocktail stirrers and little umbrellas (like the kind of stuff found in their cool new book).
Learning has never tasted so smooth.
Science of Cocktails 2014
Where: Exploratorium, Pier 15, (at Embarcadero and Green)
When: Fri., Jan. 24th, 8 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Cost: $120, tickets available online; 21 and over