For many chefs across the city, cooking sous vide is old hat. The molecular gastronomy technique, which cooks vacuum-sealed food low and slow in a temperature-controlled water bath ending in perfect results every time, has been in restaurant kitchens for years. But now the practice is moving behind the bar. Chino’s bar manager Danny Louie uses it to infuse spirits with flavors in one week that would otherwise take a year for the same results. "It’s basically a better way of infusing something faster and more efficiently," he explained. "It heats up the molecules, so instead of waiting weeks or months, it can be done in six or twelve hours. It’s a huge benefit."
Now Chino’s Rae Rey, a combination of lychee-infused Baijiu, Aperol, cucumber, lime and Lipton tea, can be available on the regular instead of when the spirit is ready. "When we first opened in 2014, I put lychee in Baijiu, a Chinese grain spirit. I waited a whole year before I tasted it and was blown away by the flavor combination," he said. "So I tried to recreate it by waiting a week because that’s usually the right amount of time, but it just did not extract any flavor whatsoever." So Louie turned to sous vide, which worked perfectly.
Chino’s not the only bar employing the technique; here’s where else you can find the science-aided drinks.
Pumpkin Sour (whiskey, roasted pumpkin, cardamom, lime, allspice dram, egg nog spumo): The roasted pumpkin and cardamom are circulated with the whiskey.
Pear 75 (gin, pear pimenta d’espelette, amaretto, chartreuse, lemon): Pears and pimente d’espelette are infused into gin.
Ring of Fire (gin, tomato, cucumber, thyme, cilantro, lime, hell-fire bitters): Gin is circulated with tomato, cucumber, thyme and cilantro.
Aster & Coi
Botanicals & Tonic (gin botanical infused vya whisper dry vermouth, house tonic): Gin botanicals are added to vermouth.
Burritt Room + Tavern
Vesper Lynd (Navy Strength gin, Alvarado Cucumber Bianco): Cucumber is sous vided into the vermouth.
Strawberry Molasses (Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, housemade rosé vermouth, Leopold's aperitivo): The entire batched cocktail is infused with strawberry to rapidly infuse the flavor.
Red Baron (rye, pistachio bitters, dry vermouth) Pistachios are circulated with Leopold's Aperitivo to make pistachio bitters.
Rae Rey (lychee-Infused Baijiu, Aperol, cucumber, lime, Lipton tea): Lychee is infused into Baijiu.
Sangria (red wine, manzanilla sherry, citrus, ginger berries, chamomile, local apples): All ingredients are blended together via sous vide, chilled and kegged with neutral gas to keep it stabilized and oxygen-free.
Orange Julius Boozie Shake (vanilla rum, orange juice, vanilla soft serve, orange oil): Vanilla bean is combined with rum.
Lemongrass Daiquiri (lemongrass agricole rhum, lime, demarara): Lemongrass is added to Batiste Agricole rhum.
Corn Shake (corn cob infused white whiskey, vanilla ice cream, butter extract): In a very meta method, corn cob is sous vided into white whiskey.
Bourberry Cider Punch (cranberry & orange infused bourbon, green walnut liqueur, maurin sweet vermouth, crisp brut cider, toasted walnut): Cranberry and orange peel are circulated with bourbon.