From Lab to Bar

February 23, 2016


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Hidden on the 5th floor of the New York Bartending School is the ‘Artisan Bar Lab’ – a mixologist’s labratory that includes a vacuum sealer, immersion circulator, magnetic stirrers, centrifuge, dehydrator, sous vide machine, smoking guns, glass froster, ice-ball maker, beakers, bitter bottles, funnels, mixology tools, and an extensive mixologists library; however, taking center stage is the Rotary Evaporator.

A Rotary Evaporator (or rotavap/rotovap) is a device used in chemical laboratories for the efficient and gentle removal of solvents from samples by evaporation – behind the bar it is used to make distillations at low heat with ingredients, such as cilantro and white pepper, that might otherwise be adversely affected by high heat.

Essentially a rotary evapotator distills under a vacuum. The vacuum lowers the boiling/evaporation temperature of the liquid enabling allowing one to distill liquids at temperatures as low as 35 degrees Celsius. The rotating flask increases the rate of evaporation, by increasing the surface area. The concentrate in the floating flask, left from the separation of the alcohol can be used for making simple syrups and bitters, whereas the high alcohol clear precipitate can be infused with herbs, fruits, or basically whatever is in the kitchen or herb garden.

The Perticipate and the Concentrate:

The concentrate is clear and generally flavorless, but not odorless as aramatics are usually volatile. The perticipate is a concentrate of the liquid it was distilled from. The genius of the rotovap, with distillation as lower temperatures the flavor s don’t get ‘cooked’ the flavors that are lost from high heat, will be preserved.