Cocktails on Fire
By Dave Gordon | Photos by Leanne Neufeld
Frankie Solarik’s not only lit cocktails on fire but also introduced frozen carbon dioxide and hydrosols to ordinary alcoholic beverages… to make them extraordinary.
These and other eye-opening experiments have made Solarik, and his avant-garde concoction creations, the subject of a global buzz. He’s received consultation requests from as far away as Syria and Dubai, and he has won acclaim in New York Times, National Post, CBC, and CNN, as well as having a guest judge spot on The Food Network’s Top Chef Canada.
Patrons to BarChef, which he co-owns, come to be dazzled by the spectacular presentations ñ the sights, sounds, smells and taste of cocktails like they’ve never had before.
Pie caught up with Solarik to find out more…
What is your goal with these drink creations?
I’m very passionate about the idea of creating a new standard of what’s possible with drinks, a new perspective as to what’s possible. My goal is to create a new genre in the world of food and drink.
What inspired you to take these challenges?
It was the idea of refusing to be limited by the confines of a glass. Who’s to say that it needs to go in a standard rock glass, or a traditional coupe glass?
For me, the idea is to truly evolve the experience. It’s fusing modern and progressive, contemporary approach that you find in “molecular gastronomy kitchens”. And it’s evolved into this totally new genre, completely challenging that, ‘Is it a dish because you eat it with a spoon, or is it a cocktail because there is alcohol involved?’
Our approach is so involved making everything in-house with infusions, syrups, and bitters. All of our bitters at the bar age for a minimum of three months
Eating a cocktail with a spoon. Tell me about one or two of them.
It began with a concept called “The Chilled Ontario Strawberry” which was a celebration of Ontarioís strawberries for the season.
I came across a service piece that really was – it almost looked like a coupe glass, but it also was a bowl. I was like, “Okay, so, someone could perceive this as a glass, and also someone could perceive this as a bowl. So, why don’t I create a ‘cocktail’ that would challenge that genre?”
It was a strawberry gin base, and there was an edible component of balsamic and lavender, there was a violet component as well, and roasted black pepper.
I’m working on expanding on that perspective of a cocktail being presented in a bowl.
It’s called “The Nordic Lake” and it’s an adaptation of a traditional cucumber soup thatís been clarified and charged with effervescence. There are ice components of black licorice and caraway.
I also have “The Night Blosso”, an Asian influenced kind of cocktail, this beautiful frozen noodle – which was six feet long – which we bent and created this abstract shape and dropped it into a bath of liquid nitrogen, and it would freeze the noodle in this particular shape. We’d garnish the noodle with fluid gels of mint and chartreuse and patchouli.
Somebody comes to you and says, “I am a purist of a kind of alcohol.” How would you intersect that palate with something that wouldn’t be a turn off?
That’s an awesome question. My whole approach, as far as the composition, is to respect the ingredients. It would be a matter of directing the flavors of what’s involved with the particular spirit that they are a fan of, or that I’m working with, and just slightly adding slight nuances of accents – through aromas or particular flavor profiles that accentuate particular notes found in that spirit.
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