Wednesday, February 08, 2012

To Heat Or Not To Heat

Great question from a viewer:

Q: I was watching your video on the mint julep recipe -- it was great the way they infuse the sugar syrup with mint flavor by letting sit overnight. I'm thinking about doing the same with my mojito mix recipe. I basically mix equal parts of fresh lemon juice and sugar and cook it over a medium flame. The part where I need your help is in the best technique to infuse it with flavor. I'm not sure when to add the mint -- when the mix is hot or after it cools down? You are the best in the biz and your scientific approach and art is always appreciated. Making good drinks is definitely an art and you always dare to be great. Thanks!

A: You're exactly on the right track -- when to apply heat is key to getting the best flavor. Basically, you want to avoid heating any of the fresh ingredients (lemon juice, mint, etc.) and only use heat to melt the sugar. In fact, you don't even need a stove to make the simple syrup. Here's what I recommend:

-Mix equal parts by volume granulated sugar and the hottest water you can get from your tap (I usually use 1 cup of each).

-Stir for 30-60 seconds until sugar is dissolved (syrup will remain cloudy for several minutes, then it will clarify).

-Let cool to room temperature or below.

-If you want to add mint, add it only after the syrup has cooled -- let steep for 12-24 hours.

-Measure the amount of syrup you have, and add equal parts freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Voila! You now have fresh mint-sour mix!

The important thing is to not heat the lemon juice or the mint. Heat initiates chemical changes in both that will make them taste less fresh or even vegetal (something like spinach) in the case of the mint. In general, fruits, vegetables, and herbs should be used at room temperature or below to avoid getting a "cooked" flavor, while roots and bark (ginger, cinnamon, etc.) should be heated to extract the essential oils. Hope this was helpful, and thanks for watching!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Art of the Drink on Dr. Oz!

Tune in to The Dr. Oz Show this Friday, February 3rd, to watch me mix cocktails that won't blow your diet!