Carb Count

Refining bubbles behind the bar

Carbonation is as much a fixture behind the bar as ice or citrus.

So it's logical that a growing movement of bartenders has sought to reinvent bubbly drinks.

If last year's Twist 'N' Sparkle was like a shuttle launched into carbonation space, this year's debut of the Perlini Cocktail Carbonation System ($99; $199 for kit) is the equivalent of putting a bartender on the moon.

Ignore its trappings, a silver metal briefcase straight out of a crime drama. Instead, focus on the three-piece instrument's two genius developments in the cocktail-carbonating saga.

First, it can be used with ice. In fact, the instructions encourage it, citing that the cubes provide better levels of carbonation. Second, it can be shaken once the carbon dioxide has been introduced. In essence, the Perlini is a proper shaker, down to its weight, with the tricked-out ability to add bubble-making gas.

The strength of the carbonation still needs tinkering, as one capsule's worth of gas only introduced a gentle fizz. A simple solution: Double the recommended dosage. Try it out with a play on the Aviation from Seattle's Jim Romdall (see the recipe).

Measure, shake, bubble, pour. You may never need club soda again.