Mixology Monday LX: The GT-5

a 12 Bottle Bar original

3 oz Gin-Key Lime Sorbet
2-3 dozen Micro Melon Balls
2 oz Leopold’s Gin
4 oz Tonic
1 large stalk Mint
Boba Straw

Make the sorbet per the Hot-Frozen Gin Fizz recipe, substituting key lime juice for the lemon
Scoop out the melon balls, making them small enough to fit through the boba straw
When the sorbet is ready, add approximately 3 ounces of it to the bottom of a large glass
Return the glass to the freezer, allowing the sorbet to set and the glass to thoroughly chill
Just before serving, add the melon balls to the glass
When serving, pre-mix the gin and tonic, then add to the glass
Add the mint and boba straw

* * *

If there’s one thing I can tell you, having run through a number of drinks for today’s Mixology Monday post, it’s that if you’re dead set on serving your drink in a scientific beaker or flask, don’t make the drink yellow. It’s a small point but one which I quickly realized as I poured a pineapple syrup-based cocktail into my vessel of choice. As this month’s theme is “Come to Your Senses” – chosen by us, given that Paul Clarke was kind enough to allow us to host the August mixer – and the goal is to create a drink which inspires a sense beyond just taste, a beaker full of frothy golden liquid arouses reactions best left unspoken.

Fortunately for everyone involved, we ditched the pineapple and went in a different direction. As the ones who set the theme, we of course figured that we should challenge ourselves to incorporate as many of the five senses – sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing – as possible into our entry. This meant breaking out the molecular mixology playbook and working our way through gels, foams, mists, solids, cotton candy, deconstruction, reconstruction, and many other big words. After several false starts and abandoned recipes (the pineapple concoction), we decided to think outside the science kit.

While we knew that we wanted to present a drink that was fun and interactive, we ultimately decided to ditch the chemistry set and reclaim the beaker and flask for more traditional mixology. In the place of xanthan gum, we have local melon and mint from our garden, and in our effort to keep all of the components very grounded, including the base recipe, we chose the ever-pleasing Gin & Tonic. From there, we knew that we could push out in various directions as long as everything we added was harmonic to the core G&T. The result is the GT-5 (a Gin & Tonic for 5 Senses), a proper lab experiment choked full of market-fresh produce and an array of sensorial experiences:

1) Sight
You know what they say about first impressions, and the same holds true for cocktails. The initial glance sets the tone for your entire drinking experience. Are you excited by what you see? Is the drink smaller than you expected? Does it sport a garnish the size of Carmen Miranda’s headdress? Here, of course, we wanted a big “Oh!” factor, so we gave the drink many levels of eye candy – serving it in a scientific flask, a frozen bottom, strange multi-colored balls bobbing inside, a plant growing out of it, and a way-too-big straw. While each part is actually integral to the drink itself, when viewed as a whole, the effect is quite (we hope) visually exciting.

2) Smell
After you’ve made your visual appraisal of a drink, the next thing you do – consciously or not – is smell the drink. The majority of flavor comes from smell, and we chose to get in the drinker’s face with a big stalk of fresh mint surrounding the straw. It is literally impossible to drink this cocktail without getting a nose full of mint and the escaping aroma of the drink itself. To facilitate the latter, we specifically chose the narrow-mouthed flask. Like a fine whisky glass (which would also work here), there’s a big bowl with lots of surface area to release a full spectrum of aromas – all of which are then forced to escape through a very small opening and right into the drinker’s nose. The effervescence of the tonic water adds yet another layer to this experience.

3) Touch
As mentioned above, we were keen on making our drink incredibly interactive. The centerpiece of this is the melon “boba”. While traditional boba in a Gin cocktail might work (although we’ve never been inclined to try), light fruit orbs compliment the base G&T while making the drink experience more than just “lift and sip”. There are also, of course, the play of the carbonic acid (carbon dioxide in the tonic) on the tongue and the temperature/texture variations of the frozen sorbet, the melon and the liquid as they reach the mouth. You may have noticed that there is no ice in the drink – the chilling comes from the sorbet and the pre-chilled glass, meaning that over the course of a long contemplation, the drink never dilutes, it just evolves as it warms. We also like that, even after the drink is finished, there are plenty of gin-infused melon balls to be tormented, speared, and vacuumed up.

4) Taste
This is where we really kept things simple, taking the basic components of a Gin & Tonic – Gin, tonic, and lime – and only marginally separating them. Because there is a decent amount of gin in the sorbet, we scaled back the booze in the G&T liquid to a 2:1 ratio. Even with this, the drink weighs in with about 3 ounces of Gin – as much as we care to push it. As the sorbet melts, the profile of the drink changes, becoming both more sweet and more tart. The other flavors – the melon and the mint – provide accent notes, and as strange as the whole thing might look, it is a very basic drink at heart.

5) Hearing
If you hold the empty flask up to your ear, you can hear the ocean. Uh, okay. We missed this one completely. Four out of five ain’t bad, right?

Our goal for the “Come to Your Senses” Mixology Monday theme was to challenge and liberate at the same time. For many cocktail professionals and bloggers (us included), the chief concern in serving up a drink seldom extends beyond making something which is tasty, yet we’re creatures who rely on various types of stimuli to form opinions and navigate the world around us. Silly things such as the comfort level of our chair, the attractiveness or friendliness of the server, or the music playing in the background can all affect our enjoyment of the food we eat and the cocktails we drink, which means that a little extra sensory experience – even a small gesture like a fancy glass or a paper umbrella – can go a long way towards putting a smile on someone’s face.

Many thanks to Paul Clarke for letting us host this month’s event.

Redemption: You might be asking yourself, “Hey, if they missed hearing completely, why are they calling the drink the GT-5?” Because it sounds better, but also, in our defense, we’ll point you towards the children’s book The Five Senses from Green Start. While the book boasts that it’s made from 98% post-consumer recycled materials and uses only non-toxic soy-based inks (“They’re good for your child and good for the world!”), it fails on one major front: the story completely overlooks the sense of smell. Good for my child indeed.

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6 Responses to “Mixology Monday LX: The GT-5”

  1. August 15, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    I <3 this post so much. Undoubtably the most fun I've had with MxMo so far. Here is my contribution. http://bit.ly/mRCDQA

  2. August 16, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    There’s something wonderful about anything in a beaker… it just seems exciting somehow.. magical , alchemical.. I dunno.. maybe too many James Whale movies as a kid ( I still love Van de Graff generators, Tesla coils and Jacob’s ladders). Cool drink. My julepp is not nearly as cool!

    • August 16, 2011 at 6:45 am #

      Your Superman julep rocks (pun intended) — I love it.

  3. August 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    It`s really cool! everything included;-)

    • August 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

      Thanks, Tiare! It was a fun drink to come up with — I think it would make people smile.

  4. Nyx
    August 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    This sounds absolutely delicious, and I may have to attempt it after I get back from Burning Man. It sounds like a lovely decompressing drink!

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