The Future of Mixed Drinks
Here's something to ponder as you sip your champagne this New Year's Eve: with molecular gastronomy bringing science into the kitchen, why should chefs have all the fun? Why not, for example, bartenders? This fledgling field of molecular mixology (a term not actually appreciated by the mixologists themselves) is already turning out drinks that would do Star Trek: The Next Generation's Ten-Forward hostess Guinan proud.
Imagine, if you will, chilling drinks not with ice or chilled glasses, but liquid nitrogen. “With cocktails, you're always fighting dilution,” notes food-science writer Harold McGee. Cocktails are pure flavor, so mixologists are finding ways to slip different essences into the drinks to help set a mood. For example, Tony Conigliaro, a creative mixologist working at a cocktail bar in London, mixes small amounts of certain food-grade essences in with his drinks. He uses essences of leather and tobacco in a version of the classic Old Fashioned cocktail to give it the aura of a gentleman's club.
That's not the only trick he's learned. Using a temperature-controlled water bath, he can employ a French technique known as sous-vide cooking (which involves cooking something sealed in a vacuum at a low temperature) to infuse alcohol with unexpected flavors – leading to such treats as rhubarb-infused gin. Conigliaro even borrows techniques from molecular gastronomy chefs – like freezing a highly flavored liquid into a small sphere and dipping it in gelatin. The liquid in the gelatin sphere melts, giving the drinker an explosion of flavor when he consumes it. Future bars will no doubt offer other interesting surprises.
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Coming Soon: Google Phone?
The press is buzzing over Google's announcement that it will hold a press event on Tuesday, January 5 at its headquarters in California. What's going on? Many think that the search engine giant will unveil its new phone, the HTC-designed Nexus One. That seems likely, given that reports on the invitation-only event mention that it will involve Android, Google's mobile operating system.
If Google will be taking the wraps off a new phone at that event, it's hard to fault the timing: it beats the actual start of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by two days. It even beats out major press conferences scheduled by many CES exhibitors by a day.
So if this IS about the Nexus One, what can we expect? Some online leaks note that the phone will likely include a 3.7-inch touchscreen, a 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, an accelerometer and compass. It will of course run Android 2.1, the latest version of the operating system. Some hope that Google will sell the phone unlocked, so buyers won't be forced to tie themselves to contracts with telecommunications carriers. There has been no word, leaked or otherwise, on possible pricing. An unlocked phone will likely be expensive...unless Google can come up with a clever ad-based model. It wouldn't be the first time the search company has come up with a way to make money by selling ads attached to an inexpensive (or free), incredibly useful service.
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