If anyone knows there is more than one way to make a drink, it’s Dave Arnold. Through his blog, Cooking Issues, and his NYC bar, Booker and Dax (which ends service at its current location this Sunday but should come back soon elsewhere), Dave Arnold and his team have led innumerable scientific experimentations that reinvent how a cocktail can be created. Liquid nitrogen, centrifuges, rotary evaporators, carbonation systems and powdered proteins all became a part of the behind-the scenes-process of crafting their menu. However, one of the simplest techniques Dave pioneered, back in 2009, in fact, was the production of clarified lime juice in a quick and easy manner, and without heat.
The value of clear citrus juice might not be apparent at first, but essentially, all of that work results in a cleaner taste, a finer texture, less bitterness and a citrus that does not cloud up a drink when stirred or carbonated. Drinks like the Solitaire, featured under the stirred section of Booker and Dax’s menu, use the clarified lime to create a slightly brighter, spirit-forward cocktail, though striking the right balance was far from simple.
Created by Nick Bennett, who is now head bartender at Porchlight Bar, the Solitaire was originally meant to be a stirred daiquiri variation, but after many experiments, nothing seemed to work. “I started thinking about the flavors better associated with some stirred cocktail: vanillas, wood and a focus on the spirit,” Bennett says. The daiquiri’s traditional base of rum is accompanied by a Bols Barrel Aged Genever and also Strega, the pungent Italian herbal liqueur. “That gave the cocktail the direction it needed,” he says.
The closure of Booker and Dax this weekend represents the end of an era, but thankfully Arnold has shared his many findings around these molecular techniques, including his clarified lime juice, which can be made at home. Despite the appearance of mad scientists toiling away on fancy machinery behind the bar, Booker and Dax was really just about creating a delicious cocktail that we may not have experienced before, and it worked.
Serving: 1 cocktail
1 ounce Flor de Caña 4yr Rum
1 ounce Bols Barrel Aged Genever
1/2 ounce Strega
1/2 ounce clarified lime juice*
1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1)
5 drops saline (5:1) solution
- Combine all ingredients into a chilled mixing glass.
- Add ice and stir for 10 seconds until cold.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a lime twist.
*Clarified lime juice preparation can be found on Dave Arnold’s blog here.
Prep Time: 3 minutes