This STEM-inspired cocktail recipe uses a process called reverse spherification to create an edible concoction that is as fun to make as it is to imbibe.
This Boulevardier Cocktail Pods Recipe was created by foodie turned mixologist Michelle Merlo, in partnership with Buffalo Rising. It is the final in a series of 6 episodes of the BITTERS cocktail video series, presented by KegWorks.
If you like to imbibe with a good batch of Jello shots or maybe some frozen “adult popsicles”, then may we introduce you to a concept that will blow your mind when it comes to consuming alcohol in a temporary solid state. It’s called reverse spherification.
Reverse spherification happens when a liquid becomes encased inside an edible gel-like membrane after it’s placed in an alginate bath. The calcium ions in the liquid come to the surface and combine with the alginate to form a gel structure around the liquid. This creates an edible pod that looks and feels similar to laundry detergent pods (please don’t eat Tide pods).
When stored in a glass jar and submerged in the same cocktail ingredients, cocktail pods will maintain their flavor and stay intact for a long period of time. This makes them perfect for parties or a unique gift idea—they are truly unforgettable and a great conversation starter!
For this recipe, we’ve mixed up a traditional Boulevardier cocktail composed of whiskey, sweet vermouth and Campari, but you can recreate this process with just about any cocktail to enjoy your favorite drink in pod form.
Boulevardier Cocktail Pods Recipe
Yield: 3-4 pods
- 1 oz. Whiskey
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
- 1 oz. water
- 1 liter distilled water
- 5 g Sodium alginate
- 3 g (or 2% of the cocktail’s weight) Calcium lactate gluconate
- Immersion blender or blender
- Instant read thermometer
- 3 bowls (at least 1 should be microwavable)
- Ice cube tray
- Mixing Glass
- Perforated spoon
- Glass jar (for storage)
Place whiskey, Campari, vermouth, water and calcium lactate in mixing glass and blend. Pour contents into a silicone ice tray and place in the freezer until frozen through. Place frozen cocktail cubes into the sodium alginate bath to complete the reverse spherification process (see process below).
How To Make Cocktail Pods Using Reverse Spherification
To create cocktail pods using reverse spherification you will need three ingredients on top of your cocktail’s ingredients: sodium alginate, calcium lactate gluconate and distilled water.
Step 1: Create Alginate Bath
In a bowl blend five grams of sodium alginate in one liter of distilled water. The bath should start to thicken as you blend it together. Let the alginate bath sit for at least one hour to remove any air bubbles.
Step 2: Make Your Cocktail
Create your cocktail as you normally would in a cocktail mixing glass, and then use a blender to mix in enough calcium lactate gluconate to equal 2% of the cocktail’s weight. (Having a digital scale will come in handy for this step.)
Step 3: Freeze Your Cocktail
After you’ve blended the gluconate into your cocktail, pour it into a silicone ice cube tray, and freeze it.
Step 4: Create Cocktail Pods
Once your alginate bath has sat long enough for the air bubbles to escape, use a microwave to heat it to 125℉. You’ll want to have two bowls of cold water ready to rinse the pod after it comes out of the bath as well.
Take one frozen cocktail cube out of the ice tray and place it in the alginate bath. Gently stir around the cocktail pod in the bath for about 2 minutes. The liquid should begin to thaw in the warm bath while the gel membrane forms around it. (Pro tip: Don’t leave your pod in the bath for too long because it will become chewy.)
Scoop the pod out of the alginate with a perforated spoon, and wipe off the bottom of the spoon before placing it in your first bowl of water. Gently stir the pod around in the water to rinse it, then scoop it out with the spoon and repeat the process with the second bowl of water. Place your rinsed pod on a paper towel.
Step 5: How To Store Cocktail Pods
If you don’t plan on consuming the pod right away, then you will need to place it in a jar filled with your cocktail because the pod will leak if you let sit out on its own for too long. It will stay intact indefinitely while inside the cocktail-filled jar.
Buffalo Rising BITTERS Cocktail Series presented by KegWorks
Episode #1: b’Lure Flower Extract Cocktail
Episode #2: A Tale as Gold as Thyme Non-Alcoholic Cocktail
Episode #4: Smoking Jacket Cocktail Recipe
Episode #5: Lyre's Londonberry Air Non-Alcoholic Cocktail
Dave Buchanan has been the Content Writer for KegWorks since June 2019. He has a fondness for craft beer that developed while working for a local beer distributor. Dave also worked for an area sports talk radio station for several years, and continues his broadcasting work as a motorsports announcer and indoor lacrosse reporter.