Modernist techniques changed my approach to cooking. Somehow they never bled over into cocktail fabrication until recently. While at Total Wine, I ran into the Molecular Mixology Kit from Molecule R. I could not resist!
Inside the kit are a few transfer pipettes, a spoon with some holes in it, some measuring spoons, and some sachets of Sodium Alginate (spherification), Calcium Lactate (spherification), Xanthan Gum (stabilizer/thickener), Soy Leicthin (emulsifier), and Gelatin (jello shots).
The kit also makes mention of siphons and liquid nitrogen, but doesn’t come with these things. Instead, it’s centered around the ingredients mentioned above. So this is not perhaps an outright modernist cocktail kit as much as a kit of food additives and some instructions on how to use them. I remain pretty excited by this, and that toys like this are available on the shelves of a mainstream liquor store.
At $60, this is not much of a value. Effectively it’s some measuring spoons, a few dozen recipes, and a few dollars worth of food additive powders. The box design is quite fancy and pretty, so presumably the other $52 goes to profit and marketing.
Of course, the average consumer is unlikely to go purchase lab equipment and food additives in bulk (i.e. at reasonable prices). I can’t say the tariff is worth it per se, but there is a lot of value here for people just experimenting in the field.
My general experience with the kit has been positive. With a few exceptions, the recipes work. Many of the recipes are not particularly good cocktails. Adding modernist techniques to mediocre cocktails makes a mediocre modernist cocktail at best. Liquors seem to be selected more for color than for flavor. A lot of the spherified solutions are largely flavorless (a problem since spherification often requires/promotes dilution), thus relying only on their form/texture for novelty. Some of this violates aspects of modernist cuisine, as we’re not using fresh/interesting/intense flavors, and just going for the surprise/novelty thing.
So, the kit works, but the recipes strive more for visual appeal and textural surprise than flavor. They are not in general recipes one is likely to repeat, but the techniques provided can be applied to more interesting beverages.