The Sour Soda Shop Ingredient That's Perfect For Balancing Drinks

No matter the season, it's always a good time for tippling. That may mean a couple of cans of craft beer or a bottle of obscure claret, but increasingly people are taking on the mantle of at-home mixologist. Maybe you received a cocktail recipe book and some choice spirits as gifts recently, or maybe you have a fete on the horizon and want a signature drink to put your stamp on the night.

Whatever the motive behind the rising interest in the art of cocktails, even a cursory glance reveals there is a depth of recipes and a wealth of technical knowledge gleaned by countless mixologists over centuries of cocktail creation, according to The Cocktail Society. It's not about creating a drink wildly potent, nor is it the mixologist's job to hide booze beneath layers of overwrought flavor. Rather, says the Moody Mixologist, the art of crafting cocktails comes in finding a balance between flavors, among them bitter, sour, sweet, salty, boozy, and umami.

To arrive at the desired flavor profile and balance, one has a galaxy of spirits, liqueurs, bitters, fruits, herbs, and other ingredients to pull from. Far from rigid, this collection is always growing and changing, such as the use of tea as a cocktail base and the return of yuzu behind bars. There are even bygone ingredients that are being called upon to help reimagine a new generation of drinks.

Sourness without citrus

As ThoughtCo. points outs, soda fountains faded from relevance in the 1970s due to the prevalence of bottled sodas, the ubiquity of prepackaged ice cream, and the growing prominence of fast food restaurants. Even though soda fountains and their unique offerings are relics of the past, there are those who are rediscovering the tools of that trade and applying them to modern mixology with delightful results.

One such ingredient is acid phosphate, which was used to make a class of beverages called — appropriately enough — phosphates. These were, notes, a tangy mixture of soda water, flavored syrup, and acid phosphate. That last ingredient is a mixture of tart phosphoric acid and mineral salts that helps temper the acidity down to safe levels as well as providing a secondary flavor-enhancing property, notes The Atlantic. The great thing about acid phosphate is that its sourness is not tempered by other flavors, such as with citrus juices often used in cocktails.

If you're looking to add acid phosphate to your personal mixology toolkit, take a look at one of our favorite cocktails, the Whitehall Mystery. Originally created at Leon's Full Service in Decatur, Georgia, this calls for acid phosphate blended with the herbaceous, bitter, and sweet notes of Old Tom-style gin, sloe gin, Cocchi Americano aperitivo, and Pommeau de Normandie, a French liqueur made from apple brandy and apple juice.