The Last Word in Cocktails


A VARIETY of liquids simmer in pans on a stove next to a worktop holding several glass storage jars full of preserved cherries.

On a facing counter stands a distilling contraption, while a candy floss machine is stored underneath and everyday kitchen utensils hang from the wall.

Welcome to the experimental laboratory of a new cocktail bar in Edinburgh.

Molecular gastronomy, where scientific equipment, techniques and know-how are used in food preparation, is moving into the drinks industry, with experts using science over the shaker to bring new flavours and textures to the art of cocktail making.

Forget Tom Cruise’s “flair bartending” in the 1980s film Cocktail where he entertained customers by juggling Martini shakers and ice cubes – today’s cocktail creators are more interested in shining behind the scenes.

Mike Aikman, pictured above, joint owner of the Bramble Bar in Queen Street and newly-opened The Last Word Saloon in St Stephen Street, says his job is not about showmanship, but more about the research that goes into creating a drink.

“We really want people to come in and think that’s new whether in appearance, taste or both,” he said. “We want people to sit up and say that looks, smells and tastes great.”

He says the gadgets used in molecular gastronomy give them the ability to push the boundaries.

“We’re not looking at it as a science, we are just looking at new ways to make things interesting.”

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