The Latest Gimmick or a Useful Serve?

Innovation is inevitable in the hospitality scene, more so in Bars and Kitchens than Front of house. I put it down to the inherently playful nature of bartenders and chefs coupled with odd hours of downtime that breeds this fascination with creating new concoctions with the tools on hand. This – by the way – is the probable origin of the Long Island Iced Tea (“I wonder what happens if I mix all these spirits together…”). Things really got exciting when bartenders and chefs started playing with each other’s tools and we started seeing Sous Vide cocktails, Spherification and Cocktail Foams. It’s the latter fascination with iSi Whippers that formed the basis for the Instant Soda and this article.

Bubbles add a unique element to a classic serve.

What exactly is an Instant Soda?

An instant soda is pretty much what you’d expect from the name. It’s turning a drink, like a Cocktail, almost instantly from a still to a carbonated drink (or soda). How is this achieved? You may have heard of the term “forced carbonation” before…to refresh your memory this is where a liquid is introduced to Carbon Dioxide gas under pressure in a sealed container. This forces bubbles of Co2 to dissolve in the liquid, giving it the sparkling texture so beloved of Champagne and Coke. There are some great articles on the use of forced carbonation in cocktails already out there but the only problem is that all these methods require around 2 hours (or even overnight) for the reaction to occur. With dry ice from the JetChill system the same effect can be achieved within 30 seconds or so.

Here’s the method:

Step 1: Choose your cocktail to carbonate. The tips at the end of this article will help you to choose wisely but we recommend something fruity and clear. Throw all the ingredients into the iSi Whipper, no ice is necessary.

Step 2: Charge a JetChill Concepts Glass (removable bottom) and drop 1 or 2 pucks of powdered dry ice into the whipper. The powder will both cool and carbonate the cocktail at the same time.

Step 3: Seal the whipper and shake hard for 30 seconds. Allow to rest for another few seconds. The powder will sublimate quickly because of the large surface area it provides. You may feel the outside of the vessel become cold.

Step 4: “Crack” the vessel by depressing the lever. Be careful to keep the whipper upright or you may get sprayed with cocktail! This will depressurise the chamber and allow you to remove the lid.

Step 5: Pour the now carbonated cocktail into a glass over ice (recommended) although the liquid will already be chilled. It will be fizzy so be careful of the bubbles!

Tips & Tricks:

i) Carbonation works better with chilled liquids so it helps to use refrigerated ingredients. Don’t worry if they’re not though because the JetChill dry ice will automatically chill the mixture anyway!

ii) Be careful with high ABV (alcohol by volume) mixes as they don’t tend to carbonate as well. Generally anything around 15% (most regular cocktails) will be fine.

iii) Cloudy liquids or those with lots of particulate matter suspended in them won’t carbonate as well. Those little suspended particles act as many little sites of nucleation, allowing the bubbles to form and leave the liquid.

iv) Very sweet cocktails may also not carbonate as well as the sugar in solution prevents the Co2 from dissolving properly. Anything leaning towards a syrup should be avoided but your standard Sours and Daiquiris shouldn’t present a problem.

Follow all these tips and your instant sodas are sure to be a success!

A Bulldog Gin & Lychee Soda we mixed up in the Lab.

So is this all just another gimmick?

Well…yes and no. In one sense it is another little piece of theatre to add into the customer’s bar journey. In fact, a great point of interaction for some venues would be to allow the customer to shake the sealed container and they can feel the vessel chilling down while they do this. In practical terms though the carbonation can add a different dimension to the flavouring of cocktails especially with the way it can alter the reaction of the palette to some classic cocktails we all think we know!

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