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Mixology - the next step

We talked about the current trends, which will be definitely see a widespread adaption in a lot of bars in the next months and years.

But there is one "next thing" which will be definitely interesting, as it is unique. And this time, no Jeffrey Morgenthaler comes up with it before me.

I am for the moment fascinated of fermentation. No - not necessary the alcoholic fermentation [via yeast]. But fermentations via more complex microbiological cultures. This is definitely nothing new. We are talking about sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented pickles - and we are talking about kombucha and kefir and well - the original ginger beer.

Instead of relying on the mono-culture yeast [I know - there are thousand of different yeast varieties - but usually only one - or maximum very few are used in one brew], these ferments are relying on a symbiosis of yeast, probiotic bacterias [like lacto-bacterias], sometimes even fungus. And it is not a "accidental" process - but these microorganisms are working perfectly together.

While yeast is pretty much producing only CO2 and alcohols [yes - not only the "good" ethanol, but also methanol and other compounds], the probiotic cultures are producing a lot of different stuff - even acid. And besides of the fact, that they are often producing also strong flavors, they used to be pretty healthy [especially for the intestine flora]. Depending on the culture and time of fermentation, little alcohol can be also a side-effect of the fermentation.

The health game is nothing for you? Still not interested?
Well - there is one real expert [or geek?] in the field: Sandor Ellix Katz - his blog is really inspiring. And one post there, describe the fermentation of adzuki bean cooking water (...) into a fizzy liquid which taste of rhubarb and pomegranate. Would that not be an amazing new type of cape cod? What about lacto-fermented orange juice in a screwdriver?

Obviously there are some barriers. Obviously the fermentation scene is pretty... "hippie". They usually use glass and stoneware containers - however then you would need either way a balloon or an airlock, to keep the CO2 in and the oxygen and too high pressure out.

I like actually to use my foodsaver with Kilner jars and the jar-attachment of the foodsaver - this also keeps an excess amount of O2 out and usually gives you a headstart with the pressure, which will definitely build up. Another option would be a clean PET bottle [totally non-hippie], as soda bottles can withstand pressures of up to 300 psi. And trust me - you will see, when you should release some pressure [if your bottle looks like a balloon, you might release pressure].

Anyway - I am just at the beginning of this topic. Legally it shouldn't be too controversial. Yes there is always very little alcohol also produced - but it would be even fit for children. I have seen "living" kimchi here in the UAE. This also consist ethanol...

A bit more complicated are the cultures themselves. Lacto-fermentation can be easily done with the whey of "active" yoghurt. Ginger bug [the compound microorganisms of the original ginger beer] can be also easily created, by making a ferment of ginger, water and sugar. And even sauerkraut and kimchi cultures are forming themselves - you just have to salt/brine cabbage and the fermentation fun is starting. However more difficult are water-kefirs, kombuchas etc. Because you need the living organisms for it. And I haven't yet found one source, which delivers to the UAE.

These challenges apart, fermentation rocks! Look at Noma - one, if not the best, as well as most innovative restaurant of the world. As they are "ultra-local" - they have problems to get fresh produce in the winter [in Copenhagen]. However they are storing a lot of fermented products, which not only keep produce "fresh" [it transforms produce], but also healthy and tasty.

The most priced "culture"-ingredients are fermented: cheese, wine, tofu, soy sauce, miso, Worcester sauce, fish sauce, sour cream, coffee, chocolate and so on and so forth.

To get this into the bar, is not only logical, but would also increase tremendously the seriousness and creativity in mixology. However there is one more challenge: the bartender, who is playing with ferments, cannot really be lazy. Living cultures need food, the right temperature [at the right time], overall the right treatment. Especially, the more sophisticated cultures are a bit more sensitive [kefir grains and water kefir grains, kombucha, vinegar mother].

But to take care of these "pets", might be even more rewarding, than just use industrial produced cordials in your cocktails.


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