You know what has been boring me to tears recently? Conventional margaritas.
It’s always the same ol’ story: tequila, orange liqueur, lime, salt. The only chance you have to mix it up is to order it frozen! BORING.
There’s gotta be a better way!
If by “better” you mean super elaborate and time consuming, though very interesting, I have the solution for you!
The kind souls at Molecule-R were absolute darlings and sent their Margarita R-Evolution kit over for testing. Did you guys know that I really love testing and experimentation? Little known Claire Fact for you.
The kit comes with the additives and tools you need to master the techniques of foam making (which they incorrectly refer to as "emulsification"), basic spherification, and reverse spherification. Such spherification.
Some things you should know before embarking upon this molecular gastronomic journey:
1. Read ALL of the instructions and FAQs for each recipe before attempting it. This is true for every recipe, but especially true for these. For example, it is important that you use distilled water in these recipes, as the ions in your tap water will interact with some of the additives, causing much destruction and chaos.
2. You will need an immersion (hand) blender. There is no escaping this.
3. These cannot be “whipped up real quick.” So if you NEED a drink, make a different drink before making these drinks. I enjoyed a whiskey sour during this process.
4. The Citrus Foam Margarita is quite strong and got my husband drunk.
Alright, first recipe/technique.
EMULSIFICATION (not really, this is a foam)
But first, a real quick lecture:
An emulsion, in the most basic sense, is the suspension of one liquid in another (usually one is aqueous and the other oil or fat based). Lecithin (a fatty substance found in plants and animals) is often used to stabilize emulsions based on the fact that is amphipathic, meaning it is attracted to both water and fat, allowing the two to hang out together without separating.
The only problem here is that you are not making an emulsion in this recipe. You are making a foam.
Foams are comprised of gas suspended in liquid, instead of liquid suspended in liquid. There are three different liquids in play (simple syrup, orange juice, and lime juice) but these are all aqueous, so there wouldn't be any phase separation. This is a technicality, but I hate improperly defined terms.
ANYWAY. They shouldn't have called it “emulsification" but it doesn't really matter that much, because soy lecithin is as good of a foam stabilizer as it is an emulsifier. Since lecithin has both water-loving (hydrophilic) AND fat-loving (lipophilic or hydrophobic) regions, the hydrophilic regions hang around the water molecules leaving the hydrophobic regions free to surround and stabilize the air pockets.
Enough of that noise. Let’s mix.
Besides the supplied soy lecithin, you will need:
- Tequilla – 2 oz
- Citrus liqueur – 1 oz
- Orange – 2 wedges
- Sugar – half cup
- Water – half cup
- Ice Cubes – enough to fill a shaker
- Orange Juice – 1 cup
First you need to make your simple syrup. Simple syrup is just equal parts sugar and water boiled until the sugar is dissolved. THERE IS NO REASON FOR YOU TO BUY THIS. I think we've talked about this before. Making your own basics is super sexy. Never forget that.
After that is cooled combine your citrus juices and two tablespoons of your sexy syrup. Dump in the lecithin packet and whip that ish into a frenzy. It works best if you don’t fully immerse the head of the mixer.
It will go from this:
Set your foam aside while you make your margarita. Their recipe recommends that you use 2T of simple syrup but that’s just too sweet. So make it to your liking and pour it into a salt-rimmed glass.
Spoon your foam on top and BAM.
You just took it up a notch.
Give it to a guy with a mustache and then ridicule him for all the foam in his mustache.
This is a pretty tasty treat. The citrus foam is fresh and fun, but messy and sticky.
Let’s make some Azure Bursting Pearls and employ basic bitch spherification.
TINY LECTURE TIME: When a drop of liquid containing alginate (derived from algae) is exposed to an aqueous solution in which calcium ions are floating around, a membrane is formed around these droplets. This is due to calcium ions inserting themselves in between individual alginate strands, which allows them to interlock and form a gel.
One takes advantage of this phenomenon by first making a sodium alginate/blue curacao mixture (4 oz curacao with a cup of water and a packet of sodium alginate). Once you have mixed this with the hand blender, set aside for half an hour to let the air escape.
Dissolve your calcium lactate in four cups of water, and drop drop drop your blue stuff in with supplied pipette! MAGIC HAPPENS.
Note: You probably won’t use all of the blue stuff. Especially if you’re just making one drink. I don’t know how long this stuff is good for, but I don’t see any reason it shouldn't be fine in the fridge. It might get thick but should be okay once it’s at room temp again? I’m just guessing here, I’m sure you could find the answer on the Internet.
ANYWAY. Sean (who was drunk from whiskey and the foamy margarita) and I got through half of the mixture before I was done-zo.
The instructions then dictate that you blend tequila (1.5 oz), liqueur (0.3333333 oz), lime juice (1 oz), and FIVE ICE CUBES until smooth. The idea is that the blue balls will be suspended in in the semi-frozen mixture, but this is NOT THE CASE. The ice melts and the balls sink.
So you have to add a lot more ice and by the time you’ve added enough ice to support the balls you can barely taste the alcohol, which I am firmly against.
It looks cool, though.
I actually liked eating the little spheres by themselves, though they do have the annoying habit of avoiding your teeth, which I usually find vaguely upsetting. Oh! And sometimes they have tails!
Who wants to make a margarita that looks like an egg?
You will need:
- Mango juice – 2/3 cup
- Tequila – 2 oz
- Citrus liqueur – 0.5 oz
- Coconut milk – 2 oz
- The blood of 2 limes
- Water – 2 cups
- The additives you need (0.25 tsp calcium lactate and a packet of sodium alginate) are supplied in the kit.
In terms of science, it’s the same as I explained above. The only difference is that you are placing a mostly-frozen calcium lactate solution in sodium alginate, forming a membrane around the spheres.
Mix the calcium lactate in a tablespoon of warm water and half ounce of liqueur. I couldn’t get all of it to dissolve, but most of it did. Add in the mango juice. Pour it into the adorable mold and freeze ( about an hour).
Dissolve your sodium alginate into two cups of water with your hand mixer and let rest for 15 minutes. Gently unmold your mango cubes into the alginate bath, BUT DON’T LET THEM TOUCH. They are impossible to separate if they touch. After three minutes transfer them to a bowl of water to stop the gelling process.
Transfer them to a fancy serving spoon if you have one. I used a condiment bowl.
Mix the coconut milk and tequila in a shaker filled with ice cubes and gently pour over the your mango sphere.
Observe that your margarita looks exactly like a raw egg. Remember that you hate things that look like eggs that aren't eggs, which until now had only included the Cadbury Cream Egg.
Struggle with your revulsion and decide to consume your creation for the good of the readers.
Gag on the membrane.
Take picture of membrane.
Try to do another and fail.
Overall, this was the most fun to make but the least fun to consume. I’m not huge fan of gels in general, so maybe I’m a bad judge, but this would have tasted better without the gusher-like explosion of mango juice which leaves a slimy membrane in its wake, terrorizing your tonsils.
But the kit as a whole is fun. The process is fun and I love scientific process. It’s hard to get properly drunk with either of the spherification recipes. Unless you’re drinking whiskey whilst preparing them.
Which I was. Obviously.
Claire tweets more when she drinks: @clairelizzie