Acid Beyond Citrus
From Andy Ricker’s Thai-inspired drinking vinegars at Pok Pok NY to our first taste of the incredible neutral pucker of acid phosphate, tart is the taste du jour (or année?). And for mixologists, already driven by a fundamental impulse to innovate, the continued demand for tart means a search for ever more imaginative ways to incorporate acid into cocktails. Fundamental drinks mixing tends to lean heavily on the citrus family for balance—most notably lemon and lime. And while tech-whiz tippler friends like Dave Wondrich taught us all about citrus juice clarification at ICC 2011, we’re finding mixologists actually reaching beyond the lemon grove, looking for ways to both balance cocktails and go for high tart-factor flavor profiles. ICC 2012 found Kelley Slagle and Lynnette Marrero serving up all things drinking vinegar, from its early Colonial iterations to applications in modern cocktail culture. And in Austin, New Orleans, and Philadelphia we tasted cocktails brightened or otherwise balanced with acid phosphate, a partially neutralized solution that, quoth Bartender Paul Gustings, “ties the drink together” with a je ne sais quoi magic akin to the (almost hidden) grace of umami.