I’m writing this tutorial to teach you guys how to make delicious infusions using a siphon and nitrous oxide capsules. This is advanced molecular bartending, so if you still haven’t tried to make basic cocktails, you might want to check out my other guide, which covers basic bartending (it is quite thorough).
Also, I wanted to make this tutorial since it’s a part of molecular cooking that most people might be able to do at home, since siphons are quite common in many households compared to dehydrators and sous vides.
Step 1: Theory
So why can you put some alcohol and a flavor component into your cream whipper and change a 3-day infusion (or more) into a 10-minute infusion.
The way it works is: the Nitrous oxide is dissolved into the liquid. When the pressure is released the nitrogen gas turns into bubbles, breaking the cell walls of the flavor-component down, releasing a lot of flavor into the surrounding liquid. This works well on flavor components, that is normally difficult to infuse, like nuts or bitter barks etc.
The pros of doing this kind of infusion is mostly the time perspective, but it also keeps a lot of the freshness in the flavor, because the flavor-component is not soaked for 24 hours. This allows you to make quick decisions, when choosing the kind of flavor, you want to incorporate.
Also, let’s just agree that it is SUPER bad-ass.
Step 2: Getting Started
First, there is some safety:
1. Remember to screw the head on properly! You don’t want to release gas into a container, where the lid might pop right off
2. Read the manual of the product, and don’t put more liquid than it is designed to do.
3. Don’t screw off the lid before you have released the pressure.
Choose your ingredients! As an example, I’ll be doing a Vietnamese coffee liquor, that I designed for the restaurant I work at. Remember to be precise, when you write down your own recipes, since small differences mean a great deal in this kind of infusion.
Things you’ll need around you:
- A Siphon, the obvious one!
- Nitrous oxide capsules (N2O, Not CO2)
- Measuring jug, be precise guys!
- Kitchen scale, I don’t need to repeat this again, do I?
- A strainer, self-explanatory
- A funnel, NO, you can’t just use steady hands
- An empty bottle. And get a pretty one!
- A spoon, to press out liquid and stuff
- Filter or cloth, to remove sediments
Step 3: Vietnamese Coffee Infused Rum
I designed this coffee liquor for the restaurant I work in, since there’s no Coffee liquor that fit our cocktail menu. The idea was to create a liquor that really gave an authentic Vietnamese feel.
So I started looking into recipes for inspiration and gaining knowledge.
The next step was experimenting, since I needed to figure out how strong the infusion should be, since the liquor was for cocktail use. I ended up on the following:
60 g of strong Vietnamese coffee (freshly ground if possible, but good quality pre-grounded worked for me)
300 ml Havana Especial
2 cartridges Nitrous oxide (N2O)
40 ml simple syrup (1,5 L sugar to 1 L boiling water – check “Let’s make cocktails”)
add Coffee and then rum to your siphon. Add the first cartridge and start a 10-minute clock. Add the second cartridge and shake and swirl it for at few seconds, working the gas into the coffee-rum-mix.
after 10 minutes release the pressure holding the siphon upright (you don’t want the fluid to run out), covering the nose with a cup or a cloth (don’t do it too tight, you want the air to pass, but you want to contain the little fluid that leaves the siphon).
It is quite loud, so don’t get scarred. This is normal. If it starts releasing a lot of fluid, wait a little and try a little slower. When the pressure is all out, you release the cap and strain the content. This should give your around 200 ml of coffee infused rum. To this you add around 20 ml simple syrup per 100 ml coffee infused rum.
If you left it for too long or if the coffee is way too intense, then add more rum and sugar-syrup. Blend it like a pro!
Step 4: Serving
White Russian twist:
Add a tablespoon condensed milk and 50 ml sweet milk to a shaker. Add a little ice and shake.
Fill a glass with ice and add 40 ml of coffee liquor and top with the milk mix.
Garnish with coffee beans or some cacao powder (or caramelized marshmallows, yumm).
Tip – if you still find the coffee too acidic add a little cream or half & half to your milk mix, to make it creamier.
Add 50 ml to a whiskey glass with ice and stir it. Cut a piece of orange zest with a vegetable peeler and squeeze it over the glass releasing the oil. Add more simple syrup if you find it too acidic.
Tip – if you have chocolate bitters or orange bitters get one or two dashes in there as well
Step 5: Designing Your Own Recipe:
So, this is one of my recipes. I figured I should try to send you off with some inspiration and good advice. So here are some flavor affinities and guidelines.
Fresh mint, Basil, Coriander, Thyme & Rosemary
infusion time: 1-2 minutes
Clear spirits like White rum, gin or vodka.
Thyme and rosemary also works with whiskey (whisky)
Pro-tip: If you want to store the infusion you should first add the herbs to boiling water for around 10 seconds and then straight to ice water. This will stop the process in the leaves that makes the color go brown.
The aromatic oil from citrus is contained within the skin. Use a vegetable peeler, and avoid getting too much of the white pith, since it’s very bitter and not aromatic.
infusion time: 2-20 minutes, depending on what style of product you want. If you want a light infusion start with 2 minutes. If you want a strong bitter-like tincture, go for 15-20 minutes (and add more zest).
Works with all spirits.
Cinnamon, cloves, star anise & pepper
infusion time 5-10 minutes (I have yet to try these ingredients myself, but they are very potent, so be aware)
Spirits like Bourbon, spiced rum, dark rum and other whiskeys (whiskys)
Fresh fruit and berries:
Raspberries, strawberries, bananas etc.
infusion time 10-20 minutes (some even more, try and let me know how it goes)
Clear spirits like White rum, gin or vodka.
Step 6: Thank You for Reading
Well, again if you made it this far, I thank you for reading. I you want to know more about bartending read my guide on bartending in general (and try not to fall asleep), and if you want to learn more about molecular bartending text me, and I’ll try to answer. This is for sure a field, where I’ll try to expand my knowledge.
Till next time – Drink better not more! Salut!