How mixology is revolutionizing bar culture

How mixology is revolutionizing bar culture

“Sex on the Beach” was yesterday. Bartenders today create innovative cocktails that promise unforgettable taste experiences and ingredients you wouldn’t expect to find in drinks. Where does the bar culture go?

Even the welcome drink at the sophisticated and trendy BKK Social Club in Thailand’s capital has it all, literally. Argentine vermouth, rosemary, chrysanthemum, citrus notes and sparkling water come together for an elegant aperitif.

Cocktail culture in 2022 is much more than mai tai, mojito or margarita. The creation and preparation of beverages has become a science that experiments with innovative recipes and concepts. “The sky is the limit – anything is possible,” says Philip Bischoff, a master in the field of mixology. This is what bar art at the highest level means today.

“But of course the classics are still part of it, and every bartender should be able to master them,” says the Berlin native, as he mixes a so-called milongas, a gin and tonic variant he developed with Argentine undertones. It shines bright red in bulbous glass, the color of tango.

Asia is at the forefront

Bischoff is already considered a legend among mixologists. He once reinvented the Amano hotel bar in Berlin-Mitte, and then moved to the Manhattan Bar in Singapore, which has been one of the best in the world for years. There, the 41-year-old had more than 100 oak barrels available for his cocktails, the ingredients of which not only combine harmoniously during storage, but also get a smoky note from the wood. “Those were crazy years,” recalls Bischoff. Recently he has been shaking Bangkok.

The food metropolis on the Chao Phraya River is at the forefront of the global bar scene, alongside other major Asian destinations, most notably Singapore and Hong Kong. “16 of the” 50 best bars in the world “are now in Asia and now they have also infected Bangkok with the mixology virus,” says Munich’s Christoph Kiening, who designs concepts for hotels and bars around the world and spends several months each year. in the iconic Bangkok’s bar scene.

Trendsetter London

But if you ask the experts of the global trendsetter in terms of mixology, they answer with one voice: London. Connaught Bar, in elegant Mayfair, topped the 2020 and 2021 list of the best bars in the world.

Meanwhile, the mixology wheel is spinning at breathtaking speed around the world. “Today, bartenders play with expensive equipment,” says Bischoff. Rotovaps, Sonicprep, Molecular Mixology: these are some of the avant-garde names of the machines and processes used to evoke the perfect drink in the glass. It is extracted, distilled, centrifuged, carbonated and clarified.

“The mixologist is becoming more and more a chef”, Christoph Kiening is convinced. It is no longer enough to simply pour distillates, syrups and the like together. “To develop new flavors and textures – and therefore new wow experiences – the mixologist has to go to the kitchen and deal with sous vide, rotary evaporators and fermentation.”

This goes so far that in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s famous Bamboo Bar, for example, the essence is extracted from stones. “Summit” is the name of the unusual drink. Gin, tablet, sage and granite are the ingredients. The cocktail is served with a frozen stone like an ice cube. Gin mixed with kernel extract has a fresh, direct and less spicy flavor than the mineral-free version.

Surprise with mergers

“None of this existed 20 years ago, not least because the machines we have today didn’t even exist,” says head bartender Chanakan Thaoanon, who played a key role in the development of cocktails. Essences of caviar, apple wood or jasmine rice are also processed, combined with flavors such as kaffir lime, coriander or coconut tea.

Since the only limit is your imagination, many bartenders give their menus a motto. “Sending the guest on a trip” calls it Philip Bischoff – with mergers that surprise him.

Thai ingredients and essences are the main components of the Bamboo Bar’s seasonal cocktail menu entitled “Elements”. The drinks are thematically divided into the five typical landscapes of Thailand, from the rainforest (wild honey, earthy mushroom coffee or tropical passion fruit are incorporated here) to islands (with Blue Curacao as the color of the sea, white almond sand or green algae ).

Meanwhile, the Vesper Bar in the elegant Silom district – which is also on the list of the 50 best bars in Asia – has taken the “Contrasts” theme. “Dirty – Clean” is the name of one of the creations of the bar manager Federico Balzarini, in which he mixes clear gin, dry sherry, lemon and passion fruit with “black carbon”, or activated carbon.

Drinks with less alcohol

And where does the read mixology go? “There is still a lot of room for improvement, there are no limits for us barmen,” says Philip Bischoff. However, the trend is towards “designing lighter cocktails, such as vermouth-based drinks,” says the German.

In the same way, Kirill Samoilenko, the new manager of the Bamboo Bar, sees it. “Low ABV” is the watchword, that is creations that do not entirely contain alcohol, but contain significantly less. Because more and more guests wanted to live healthy, but still wanted a high-quality cocktail.

This will make the rounds of the vast mixology community. Because everyone in the scene knows each other and exchanges ideas – and they also like to try the competition cocktails on the free evening. In any case, the international hunt for new ways of acquiring tastes and aromas is open.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220421-99-986118 / 3


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