Scientists create fresh fruit essences for cocktails without need for garnishes

Cocktail Elements orange atomiser

A team of scientists has created a range of atomisers that add flavour and aroma to cocktails without the need for garnishes. 

Spirits company Linden Leaf has developed Cocktail Elements – natural and organic essences of fresh fruit for spraying over drinks. The first three expressions are Lemon, Lime and Orange.

The three scientists behind the Cambridge-based firm have identified the molecules responsible for the perfect burst of fresh flavour to ensure a consistent spray for each serve. The are intended to provide the flavour of fresh, organic fruit with none of the waste or faff of garnishes.

Using a proprietary super-chilled distillation technology, the essences are distilled in carefully selected organic grain alcohol, avoiding the bitter aftertaste sometimes associated with oil-based atomisers.

Matthew Webster, co-founder of Linden Leaf, explains: “At Linden Leaf, we all share a passion for understanding flavour. It all starts with finding the very best ingredients for what you want, the lemons with the strongest, most complex scent in their zests. That’s not only about choosing which variety of lemon to use, but also the producer who makes them and the season they’re picked – all those make a difference.

“Then we optimise the extraction, looking at every technology available to pull the very best smells and flavours from each ingredient. We are lucky to have access to the latest modern analysis equipment, which can help us learn exactly which molecules are in each extract, and even how each individual molecule smells.

“We’re all from scientific backgrounds and very used to dealing with huge data sets, in a way probably most craft spirits producers aren’t. We love and respect the long tradition of distillation and the artistry of blending, and our technology helps us build on that: honing the flavours with a precision and consistency that just haven’t been possible before.

“We’ve done a huge crowd-testing programme spanning thousands and thousands of consumer tastings. From this, we have built a flavour atlas which maps out how different people perceive the smell and flavour of each molecule, as well as how those flavours interact.

“This lets us ensure that the botanical flavour we select is as characteristic and appealing as possible while tasting as fresh as the moment it was first zested. For example, with the orange essence, we’ve pulled out the specific molecules that give the really rich deep, warm orangey-ness that you get when you twist zest from a super-ripe orange: the scent and flavour that people want when they’re adding orange to a cocktail.”

The new range has been launched for home bartenders, available in 20ml formats from The Whisky Exchange for £9.99. They have been tested in bars but a trade range of Linden Leaf Cocktail Elements is under way. It will use more specialist flavours such as yuzu which is difficult to source fresh year round in London due to the tight growing season in Japan.

Max Venning, co-founder of leading London bar Three Sheets, comments: “We like simple, elegant drinks with clean flavours – it needs to be simple, it needs to be delicious and it needs to be easy for the consumer to enjoy. Linden Leaf excites me, as they are these three scientists from Cambridge who are really into food and drink and they’re applying that scientific knowledge onto the extraction of flavours.

“The Cocktail Elements series really inspires me. They are taking products from their peak season, extracting exactly the flavours we want from them and then that’s available all year round in an atomiser we can spray on top of drinks. Lemons will change from fruit to fruit, but also will change quite dramatically from week to week. Cocktail Elements gives us absolute consistency over a long time frame to make sure we get exactly the same drink every single time. The sprays are so special because the hyper-concentrated flavour means that we’ve got an exact replica of peak season fruit for 12 months a year.”

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