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The Obvious Bridge Cocktail - A Lesson in Flavor Pairing!

Hello, Friends of Cocktails. To connect the flavors of strawberry, cucumber and caraway you need a bridge, so today we’re making the Obvious Bridge cocktail. That’s right, today is all about flavor pairings, and let me tell you, this cocktail blew me away when I first tried it. To make it you’ll only need a few homemade ingredients, but I’ll first let you know about how I found out about this great and unique drink!

The Obvious Bridge cocktail was created by Zach Sapato and I was introduced to it during his presentation at this year’s Bar Convent Berlin. The presentation was titled Intentional “Experience Design: Flavour & Connection”, and one of the key elements was of course flavor-pairing. So when I tried the Obvious Bridge, one of the 4 cocktails presented by Zach, I knew it was something I’d love to share with my Friends of Cocktails!

Zach loved the idea and we got a bottle of Strawbar, an eau-de-vie distilled from fermented strawberries that comes in at 45% ABV, so I’ll first go over the recipe and tasting notes, then we’ll talk about the flavor pairing and make our version. It’s Cocktail Time!

Obvious Bridge

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz StrawBar Platinum

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Aquavit

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Monin Cucumber Syrup

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Lemon Juice

● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution

This will be a shaken drink so grab your shaker and ice, add the ingredients into the smaller tin, then add ice and shake hard to chill and dilute. The Aquavit is not the same that Zach used, which I think was O.P. Anderson, but I think Linie will do fine. Also, even though the ingredients card from BCB listed lime, I talked to Zach a few days ago and he said to use lemon, so that’s what I’m doing. You can now double strain into a chilled Nick&Nora glass, and you won’t need a garnish for this one. Cheers!

You’ll get the aroma of strawberry compote and subtle cucumber. Caraway beautifully ties together these two flavors on the palate, making for a cocktail that’s refreshing, aromatic, rich, and brimming with surprises! While Strawbar takes the spotlight, aquavit is indeed an excellent supporting element, and I’d love for you to try this cocktail but I know Strawbar can be hard to come by, and a bottle of cucumber syrup is usually not something a home-bartender stocks on their bar cart.

That’s why we’ll make a cordial with strawberries, cucumber juice, lemon and a few other things to make a variation of this cocktail - but first, a little rundown of what makes a great flavor-pairing and how to find the right match. I’ll start with a quote from an easy-to-remember site, “two or more ingredients are complementary when they share key aroma components”, but how does that work?

Their scientists first identify an ingredient’s aromatic molecules, which are then added onto a database. With that they created a ‘language of scent’ to describe and create visualizations for all aromatic profiles. This way, they can also create categories, limiting the aromatic profiles to 70 descriptors and 14 types of aroma - such as fruity, floral, green, herbal, and so on. From there it’s all about what you want to mix and match, but remember, the greater the ‘aromatic match,’ the more likely it is that different ingredients will combine well in a recipe.

For example, they suggest pairing cherries with asparagus, among many other unique pairings. Another resource, recommended by Zach during his presentation, is FlavorDB. This is a database that’s focused on flavor molecules, showcasing pairings in a comprehensive radial chart, but if you want it will also give you the breakdown of pairings for a number of ingredients on a molecular level.

In the past I’ve also shown you great books that have helped me combine flavors for unique cocktails, such as The Flavor Matrix, or The Art & Science of Foodpairing - and I’ve used this last one to create a Ginger-less Penicillin, using turmeric, coriander, and different peppers to substitute ginger in a cordial - but it’s the Flavor Matrix that holds the key to today’s cocktail.

Looking at its section on cucumber, we don’t see strawberries among the pairings, but caraway is there. Similar story with the berries, no cucumber to be found as a pairing, but once again carraway is among those listed, so that’s the bridge that brings the flavors in today’s cocktail together. So let’s first go over how to make the strawberry and cucumber cordial.

Cucumberry Cordial

● 150g Strawberries

● 220g Cucumber Juice

● 2.3g Lemon Peel

● 30g Lemon Juice

● 0.5g Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

● 14g Citric Acid

● 51g Sugar

● 0.8 Agar Agar

● 100g Water

Start by washing and peeling 2 cucumbers, which should be enough for the amount of cucumber juice we need - also as a fun fact, cucumber shares the most flavor molecules with ​​green beans, apples, lettuce and tomato! Once juiced we’ll measure out the cucumber juice and add it to a blender together with the strawberries, lemon peel, lemon juice, ascorbic acid, and citric acid. Blend everything together for at least 30 seconds and proceed to the next step.

We’ll need to strain the cordial so we might as well clarify it to get a better looking cocktail. So I’ll dissolve the agar agar in 100g of water, and place the mixture on medium heat. Now stir constantly until it begins to simmer, then take it off the heat and pour our cucumberry-lemon mixture over the dissolved agar and mix well. We’re making a cordial where I want the freshness of the cucumber, not cucumber soup, so I hydrated the agar in water to prevent it.

Once mixed, place the mixture in an ice bath or the freezer to thicken, and when the agar forms a soft gel, strain it through a cloth filter. This will then take some time, but once it's done we need to weigh our yield and add 30g of sugar for every 100g of the liquid. I got 170 g, so I’m adding 51 g of sugar. To help me dissolve it, and to make me look a bit more science-y, I’ll use a magnetic stirrer. If you’d like to do the same, you can get one here.

I didn't add sugar before as that would make the clarification process slower, and it’s also easier to exactly dial in the amount of sugar if you add it last. Once your cordial is bottled and labeled you’re ready to make the Not-So-Obvious Bridge.

Not-so-Obvious Bridge

● 30mL · 1oz Cucumberry Cordial

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Aquavit

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Vodka

● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution

I’ll be throwing the cocktail, to keep it nice and clear but still give it some aeration. That means ice and a strainer in the small tin, and ingredients in the big shaker tin, then start by pouring the cocktail into the shaker tin with ice and letting it drop back into the large tin. Repeat 6-8 times, increasing the distance each time as you feel comfortable and you’ll have a nicely chilled, diluted and aerated cocktail, ready to be served into a chilled Nick&Nora glass. Here’s to building bridges, cheers!

We’ve come close to the original, as expected, from using a similar profile of ingredients. Here the strawberry is a bit fresher, cucumber works well with everything, and caraway is more pronounced, but I think this is a worthy alternative to the Obvious Bridge so I’d call this a success - but I do miss that green hint of the original cocktail though. I was fascinated by a drink that tastes like strawberries but you couldn’t tell that by looking at it.

And with that you’ve made it to the Bottom of The Glass, this one in celebration of my cocktail travels that I made on the channel. Going to conventions, shows, or just visiting bars in other countries, gives me a chance to gain and share knowledge, but also to meet Friends of Cocktails from around the globe! If you'd like to see more recipes from cocktail travels let me know, and if you have leftover strawberries check out this Strawberry Yogurt cocktail, and until next time, cheers!

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