The next step in the Solid Liquids project is to look at the various methods people are using to dehydrate liqueurs down to sugars. After searching the interwebz, here are some techniques I found.
I don't think the original DrinkBoy forums are online anymore- at least I can't find them- but that's where this technique first came to my attention several years ago. Bartenders in Australia were dehydrating Campari and other liqueurs and making powders out of them.
Pour the liqueur on a baking pan, perhaps with a silicone matt on it (for easier removal of solids) and bake at a low temperature overnight. Damon Dyer wrote that his initial method (copied from the Australians) was:
"The process as I learned it was to pour the Campari into a shallow baking sheet, then slowly bake in the oven at low, low, low heat. The Campari eventually loses its water and alcohol, and solidifies. Then it's simply a matter of scraping the solid Campari "brick" off the baking sheet, crushing it into a powder, and enjoying a cocktail.
"However, the revised process that Donbert came up with [see below] is much more efficient."
Way back in 2007, Don Lee took up the issue (in this thread on eGullet), and remembering a tip from the French Laundry Cookbook, he dried out liqueurs in the microwave. He was able to boil Campari down to a sludge in about 4 minutes, then further pulverize this into a poweer.
On refining the technique, his observations were:
- In the initial cooking stage, the alcohol is boiling off so the boiling is quite violent. Use short heating bursts during this stage.
- Also use short bursts of heat at the end, because then the thick sugary liquid can caramelize if you're not careful.
- "For Maraschino (Luxardo) I had to use 20 sec intervals for the first 1.5 minutes, then could let it go for 3 mins straight before going back to 20 sec intervals until 303.5F was reached. The result when cooled is an easily removable "puck" of Maraschino."
- Using this method, Damon Dyer said he had success dehydrating Torani Amer, Yellow Chartreuse, Peychaud's, Herbsaint, Maraschino, and Canton Ginger.
Douglas Williams of Liquid Alchemy consulting used liquid nitrogen to make solid Campari. This is really frozen Campari, and thus will melt again. So it's not a useful technique for my purposes.
But in any case, check out this video of it happening:
Williams told me about some other ways to get alcohol into solid form - sometimes without burning off the booze. I am not completely clear on how it works, but apparently you can use tapioca malodextrin and that will bond with anything fatty. This technique can apparently be used to trap booze into a solid form.
I doubt I'll have time to get into the molecular mixology stuff during the duration of this project, but it would be fun to try.