Wednesday, March 05, 2014


Growing up we were actively discourage from playing with our food. Eating was a serious business. Conversation was encouraged. Spilling milk, which seemed a daily occurrence when there were a lot of little kids, was discouraged. Cleaning your plate was encouraged. You get the idea.

Now that I'm not only a grown up but an elder it seems, playing with food is a blast. This past weekend it was fascinating, too. Warrior woman and I used a kit she found online to have some fun with food science. We made molecular mixology cocktails. Whah? What's that? Well, in this case we used some cool chemicals to create two liquids. When you dropped drops of one of the liquids into the other, it created little liquid filled balls, sort of like caviar. These went into Cosmopolitan cocktails. Frosty! 

Here is the kit from R-EVOLUTION. It's for Cosmopolitans, but they also have other kits for Mojitos and more.

The contents:

You even get pipettes. And recipes. 

You start with cranberry juice, add sugar, then put together a mixture with citrus liquor and lime juice, and some red food coloring, too. This will be the liquid that turns into little globes with a thin skin, the 'caviar'. 

One of the cool chemicals is sodium alginate. It gets added to the cranberry mixture. 

It gets thoroughly mixed in with a stick blender, then sits to let the air bubbles pop. We had to scoop off some of the remaining bubbles, too.

Next you make a bath with water and another of the chemicals, calcium lactate. Science! 

When the cranberry liquid, with it's sodium alginate mixed in, meets this chemical bath, a thin skin forms around the liquid through a chemical reaction. Over time the reaction continues, which leaves you with no liquid inside but a ball more like the tapioca balls in Vietnamese coffee. Either way, the different mouth feel of the spheres swimming in the cocktail is excellent and fun. 

This cute pipette lets you drip the mixture in little drops to create the 'caviar' effect. 

Once you have made enough 'caviar', 

you scoop it out and drain it, then rinse with water. After trying different tools, we found that clean hands were the best thing for scooping the spheres into the sieve. 

They felt weird, too. Weird science!

The Cosmopolitan mixture is pretty normal, vodka, lime juice, triple sec, plus we think you need to add some white cranberry juice. Without it the mixture is pretty strong. We had to use red since we didn't have any makes it harder to photograph, but the last photo shows the drink that way.

Then comes the fun part, adding the 'caviar' to the drink. We didn't have a regular blender, so couldn't blend in ice, which was recommended. Without that blended ice the juice balls sank to the bottom. 

Next time we'll get a blender and blend the drink with ice to allow those cool little spheres to be throughout the drink. Even so, it was excellent to take a gulp of the drink and have tiny little juice spheres floating around in your mouth.

So this was a fun evening and I would recommend the kit, but be sure to get both red and white cranberry juice and make sure you have a blender, too. For more impact, add at least 6 drops red food coloring, but then be sure to work on a non-staining surface, because, like cooking, this can get messy. 

The bottom line is that in the end you have a delicious cocktail unlike any you've likely had outside of a trendy bar. Yay for science!


  1. Anonymous9:47 AM

    Love this! The photos turned out great and took me right back to our fun little cocktail experiment - such a cool experience, looking forward to trying the mojitos this summer! :)

  2. Wow! That looks awesomely fun! I'm imagining mixing up different juice bubbles & incorporating them into a gelatin dish, just to add interest. Or adding them to tapioca pudding, to really go with the whole "fish eggs and glue" thing. :)

  3. Great to be able to geek out over food. Looking forward to trying another flavor and a larger format bubble. I think David's idea of mixing into tapioca pudding is genius. The texture o tapioca is similar once the 'caviar' has been sitting around a bit.
    Let me know if you try it, OK?

  4. Let you know? Methinks we'll need to let you try the pudding! ;)