During the Golden State of Cocktails in Los Angeles earlier this year, I attended a talk called The Pharmacology Behind Creating Flavor-Addicting Cocktails. It was given by Larrian Gillespie, MD, who also runs the site AddictionMixology. On the site she sells science-enhanced cocktail ingredients and equipment like ultra-sonic infusers and insta-foam for cocktails.
She covered a ton of incredibly interesting material in a short amount of time, so below are just a few notes that I jotted down. I'd highly recommend attending her seminars if you see them pop up in your area. You can sign up for the mailing list on the site to hear about upcoming seminars.
- Supertasters are not as sensitive to umami and salt. They are sensitive to items in the nightshade family like eggplant, chili, potatoes, and tomatoes.
- I've tried those supertaster strips previously and only came in at a high normal taster, but this time we tried other strips that test for the dominant and recessive genes and I registered as a supertaster on both of them.
- In the last 5 years science has shown we have taste receptors all over our body, not just on the tongue, with all of them tasting the environment in some way. Creepy.
- Umami signals nourishment to the brain. Breast milk is very high in umami.
- Flavor pairing, on a molecular level, allows you to increase the effect of flavors when put together. Mushrooms have no connections to any other flavor, while meat and potatoes share around 170 connections. She has a flavor pairing database launching this summer called The Cocktail Matrix. She told me via email, "Unlike any other database, this one has a living matrix that shows you the precise chemical elements that are matched in a Negroni....or any drink you compose...and it will also allow you to play Mr Potato head and swap out an ingredient for another flavor comparable profile....all the while keeping the ABV intact and the ratios."
- 87% of Bitters comply with Lipinski's Rule of Five, which has something to do with drug development.
- Customers will pay 30% more for pretty drinks than regular ones.
- Sound makes you less sensitive to taste, except for umami. (So maybe when the music is too loud in the bar customers taste less. But on the other hand, we know that loud music makes people drink more so perhaps it evens out the effect...)