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Essentials oils and natural aromas - viable in the bar?


I have been pretty dogmatic in the bar in the last 15 or so years. 

Other than most bar people (who would consider themselves dogmatic), I haven't been just against new stuff. I have never tried to stop progress. 

However I almost entirely moved away from flavored syrups. Or "cheap" liqueurs. Or even a lot of flavored spirits.

Why? Because I don't believe, that "my bar" should be based on food additives (...). 

Most others were less concerned. There are spirits use for sure natural (but isolated) aromas. Think about one of the darling-gins of many bartenders: Ripple. If you have a bit of a clue, what the food industry is doing, this gin shouts out: complex extracted aromas. But Ripple is not the only example (even though, it is in a "premium space" where most other similar products cannot be found). I am pretty sure, that the cucumber and rose extracts of Hendricks are also not house-crafted. And would it make a big difference, if the guys at William Grant & Sons would have a critical CO2 extractor, to do their own aromas? Probably not.

I have got no issues with these problems. Maybe a slight problem: they are promising artisan-ship, however using products, which are produced in very industrial settings. But overall - no issues.

But it was just not for me... but I got a problem: I wanted to introduce woodruff cocktails, and as Dubai is hot and dry, you cannot even expect to find woodruff plants here.

So I could get an edible essential oil of woodruff. I made a woodruff syrup based on rich syrup and the essential oil of woodruff, and boy is it good.

It is far better than the woodruff syrups, you could buy in Germany. It is obviously not green (because I am not using food coloring) - but the flavor is far more complex. Do you know what: it is even cheaper than commercial products.

The thing is, that you know what you are using. Sure, there is one product, which is processed. But you don't have any preservatives, you don't have any additional (artificial) flavors and colors. Even better: you can make your own flavored spirits, with incredible interesting aromas.

For example? Think acorns. Think pecans (nuts are notoriously difficult to use for flavors, because they are so fatty). Oh sky is the limit.

The question is, should you do this? It is an ethical question - which applies for a fraction of 1% of all bartenders. As long as bartenders don't have an issue to use wild liqueurs (looking at your Midori, Alizé, Hyptontiq etc) they really should stay out of the conversation and should just think to use aromas. They are cheaper and better than anything what they are using. 

For the rest of us? It is tough. As liqueurs and alcohol without controlled origin, basically don't have a lot of laws (not even ingredient labels) it is sometimes difficult to "pick a side". Does it make sense to be dogmatic? I don't know. But also the rest of the food industry is using aromas. Think ice cream, think even your premium patisserie... they are using aromas. 

Point is, that I really think that the bar also goes into a wrong direction. In my last post, I talked about gimmicks. Also: people are adding all type of things to their classic drink - which often dilutes the original character. 

I don't think, that an Old Fashioned, which is produced with a drop of acorn essence is worse, than so many variations, which simply don't go through as Old Fashioneds. 

Another thing: either way flavored products are poor and overhyped, or they are cheap and... poor. You could really control the quality of your drink far easier.

So... I guess, I will approximate towards this type of mixology. I will try to use it sparely. And yes, it is very difficult to find organic, edible essential oils in unique aromas. 

But it is worth a try... 


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