Nitrous oxide infusions
Mixology infusions have long required either simmering heat or long steeping to impart an ingredient's flavors into a spirit. But in 2010, madcap innovator Dave Arnold (head of the French Culinary Institute's Culinary Technology department) developed a technique that trims the process to a few short minutes. Using an iSi canister—perhaps better known for instantly whipping cream or giving teenagers a quick high—bartenders can force a flavor into a liquid with nitrous oxide pressure. The trend is still in its infancy, but a few intrepid tinkerers have found that N2O mint elixirs are fresher, sweeter and bereft of the bitter tones that other methods produce.
Where to try it: At Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Ave at 24th St; 212-889-0905,elevenmadisonpark.com), head bartender Leo Robitschek combines mint-infused Jim Beam Black bourbon with sugar for an off-menu mint julep ($15). Unlike the traditional one, this version relies on the drink's herbal flavor, rather than the aroma of the garnish. Jeremy Osslund (former bar manager at Andaz 5th Avenue) also plays with a mint infusion, using DonQ rum. He shakes the spirit with fresh lime juice and a sweetened cucumber-citrus blend for the garden-fresh East River ($12), at Apl (146 Orchard St between Rivington and Stanton Sts; 212-777-8600, aplnewyork.com).