Have you seen fumes coming out of a drink? Smoky fumes, swirling around a cocktail glass that create an expression of a magical potion – poured from an enchantress’s cauldron! If you are a bar-goer, it is very much possible for you to notice such a quirky and unconventional preparation. Perhaps, you might order it to gratify your ‘visual’ hunger pangs.
Slayed! That’s exactly where pubs & bars encash on your psyche. The gastronomic theatres have taken the bartending fads to a new high and majority of bar-goers are falling victim to this trend. But little do we check about effects of consuming fad smoky delights. To deliver this visual, bartenders incorporate extremely dramatic techniques while preparing drinks and dishes by using liquid nitrogen.
Controversies have always spread along with this gas. It’s been more than a century since liquid nitrogen was first introduced in food & beverages for refrigeration but we are in no hurry to check the harmful effects. We are simply going with the trends sans ensuring our safety.
Before going ahead, let’s digress for a moment to check some facts on liquid nitrogen.
- It boils at -196°C (77 K; −321 °F). That’s very low on any temperature scale. Ingesting it can cause cryogenic burns and irreparable damage to tissues.
- Since 1890, it is being used in culinary to instantly freeze desserts and cocktails, but there are techniques to use it cautiously.
What we seek as a consumer is sometimes not well-executed by a bartender. In fact, many of the bartenders and even chefs aren’t trained to correctly infuse nitrogen. When prepared by untrained bartenders and consumed by unaccustomed drinkers, nitrogen cocktails can prove fatal. If swallowed in larger amounts, the gas can make fissures in digestive track and organs.
Recently, a news floated about a man who accidentally drank liquid nitrogen cocktail before the ‘right time to drink’ and his stomach was perforated in minutes!
It’s like turning on the knob of a gas cylinder and blocking the pipe’s nozzle. If the gas can’t release, either the cylinder or the pipe will explode. Club this with liquid nitrogen that expands up to 500 times on evaporation. You might think that if it is so unfit for consumption, then why is it being used? Isn’t this unethical? Yes, to some extent. As it gives a tasty mouthfeel and the smoky trails are so enthralling, many mixologists themselves get over fascinated and serve drinks even before being ready for consumption!
The right time to consume any nitrogen based drink is when its fumes evaporate completely. That’s when there are NO FUMES, ALL SMOKE GONE! So, first enjoy watching the smoke and once the phenomena is over, enjoy your drink. We won’t even suggest using a straw.
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The best way to serve a nitrogen infused drink is in a two-parts glass container over the smoke. This way nitrogen does not enter a drink. Here’s a small video on nitrogen cocktails – Liquid nitrogen cocktail safety.
What about desserts and other preparations?
Go ahead with the same principle. Let it burn off! The gastronomical experience is enhanced using nitrogen as the gas refrigerates whatever thing it is added to, thereby slowing degradation of compounds. For example, in nitrogen infused coffee, caffeine becomes more bitter and stable. Nitrogen doesn’t let go off the taste. It instantly freezes ice-cream, giving a consistently creamy texture. The faster the freezing, the lesser is the taste loss.
So, using nitrogen in food and beverages is not that unsafe. Remember not to gulp anything down the moment it is served. Just be a little patient and enjoy your drink or food’s appearance as well as its taste. Ask your bartender or chef how it’s been prepared.
If you’re so much in love with fumes, ask for dry-ice or smoke guns based preparations. Even dry-ice should be handled carefully. Check this video – Dry ice cocktails.
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Now that you’ve checked for the safety tips, you might be interested in trying these preparations:
- Molecular puchka shots and Dragon Smoke Popcorn at Molecular Air Bar.
- Nitrogen Kulfi Falooda and Nitrogen Deconstructed Tiramisu at Lord of the Drinks Barrel House.
- Edison Bulb Yard range at The Junkyard Café.
- Tamasha Black Tea at Tamasha.
You should experience the pleasure of molecular gastronomy. Head out to the best bars and breweries in Delhi NCR, Bengaluru and Mumbai to enjoy novelty drinks and dishes with your bunch of buddies. Reserve through Clicktable app and avail exciting offers on food and drinks.