For many decades, bartenders wanted to surprise their customers and make them live a special experience. The final goal is to “Amaze the customer’s five senses”. If the last sense will always be the taste of the drink, let’s see everything that happens before sipping a cocktail.
At first comes the sight. The color of the drink, how it generally looks, if there is garnish or not, a clear ice cube or ice ball, but also the glassware itself. All those things will have an impact on your customers’ eyes, as they will enhance (or not) the tasting and experience of consumption.
The sense of hearing will also play a major part in the tasting of your cocktail. Your palate sensors won’t open the same way if you are drinking a Maï Taï in a Tiki Bar with loud music or if you are sipping a cocktail in a nice luxury bar, listening a live piano playing Frank Sinatra’s songs.
Touch also has its own features, depending on how people will hold their glass. If we take the example of a big wine glass full of ice, the feeling won’t be the same whether you hold the glass by the stem or the balloon. Same goes with a metal tin or a coconut, the interaction between a person and the glass will bring different sensations. And all of them will be parts of the whole experience.
According to Stéphane Moeslé, one of the most important part of a cocktail experience is the “sense of smell”. When customers taste a cocktail for the first time, one of their first reaction would be to smell the drink before tasting it.
First, during the tasting of your drink, when you inhale some air, just after swallowing a sip of your drink, you just to get all the flavors of your cocktail, in your palate. In this way you will taste different structure of the cocktail like, aromas, after taste, long or short-lasting flavours.
To enhance this key sense, many tips and technics exist, like twisting a citrus or orange zest, to get all the oils contained in the skin, sprayed on the top of a cocktail. But you can also flog herbs like mint or basilon top of the glass or even use edible perfume, composed of rose syrup and vodka for example.
Another way to upgrade the tasting, is by playing with your customers sense of smell with the help of smoke. For a decade now, we have seen bartenders “smoking” their cocktails or spirits. This technic, coming from culinary methods, adds smoky flavours to a drink, but is also kind of a real visual show.
From the regular smoking gun with wood chips to the last bartender’s toy “the Flavor blaster”, there are now many different ways to smoke the whole customer experience. The easiest one would be to flame cinnamon sticks or wood sticks (like applewood or cherry wood) on a little wood log and to place an old-fashioned glass upside down to collect the smoke.
When using a decanter, bartenders would fill small decanters with smoke and pour the cocktail in them, to serve as a perfect serve. With this technic, you should pay attention not to leave the cocktail more than five second in contact with the smoke, otherwise some unwanted flavors might appear.
Finally, if you are using a smoking gun, you will be able to use wood chips provided with the gun, but also other ingredients to customize your smoke. Dried herbs like mint, rosemary, thyme or fennel stick can be used for an herbal smell. For a Christmas cocktail, you might think of pine needles to flame. Finally, you can also use black or smoked tea leaves or even coffee beans!
But Stéphane’s favourite smoking method would be to use wood chips from whiskey barrel and mix them with cinnamon powder, for a magical effect and a full-sense experience. So, if you feel like trying, find below some exclusive smoky recipes!