It's Alive!

The latest cocktailing trick: Fermentation

Leave it to bartenders to borrow techniques from other areas of the booze world. Most recently it was a page taken from the distiller's book, with the emergence of barrel-aged cocktails.

Now it's the vintners being mimicked, with the introduction of cocktails sur lie. Using the same technique that winemakers employ to make Champagne, bartenders are adding yeast to mixed cocktails, then bottling them and letting them sit for a spell.

Doing so is a tricky process, as live yeast cultures are finicky and, when added incorrectly, can result in an explosion. When done successfully, though, the resulting cocktails carry a unique carbonation with an (ideally) off-dry, bready flavor.

San Diego, California, bartender Jeff Josenhans (of the U.S. Grant Hotel) is working on a bottled Mule, made of vodka, ginger, rock candy sugar, fresh hops and Champagne yeast. It is the drinker's trifecta: a cocktail with the presence of sparkling wine and beer.

At the Worship Street Whistling Shop in London, a temple of cocktail experimentation, bartenders have been laying down bottled cocktails since the summer. The first success was a bottle-aged concoction based with gin, lemon juice and sugar, another triumph of Champagne yeast. On the menu, it is sold by the bottle as the Champagne Gin Fizz, and marks a new innovation in large-format cocktails.

Get out your bottles...the Frankenstein cocktail awaits.