We live in a time of unbridled cocktail creativity. Every bar seems to be making its own ingredients — its bitters, syrups, freaky ferments, whatever. And your chances of getting a good drink at the bar are better than ever.
But with all that creativity and experimentation comes some risk — especially if you don’t quite know what you’re doing. Say you’re making your own, in-house tonic water. You know that quinine — despite being the active agent in treating malaria — can also be toxic in big doses, right? Well, it can be. But the question then becomes: just what is a big dose of quinine?
Admit it: you don’t know.
And consider something as commonplace as using raw eggs in drinks. Do you know how to handle them? What are the risks involved? Can you make people sick?
You are, after all, a bartender and not a pharmacist (despite your fancy uniform), so this might not be knowledge that you have. The good news, however, is that you can learn more about these ingredients and others.
CocktailSafe.org is a new website that seeks to help you with this. Set up by US drinks writer Camper English and Avery Glasser of Bittermens with the help of Tales of the Cocktail’s grant progam, CocktailSafe.org is developing a database of a number of ingredients that have been used in cocktails and behind the bar. Ingredients and their cocktail applications are outlined, with a bevy of information related to the risks and legislation associated with these ingredients listed under each ingredient.
Take activated charcoal, for instance.
CocktailSafe.org says that “Though activated charcoal can have many beneficial uses, in beverages it is used to turn cocktails black in color. It does not have a significant flavor impact but could have negative impacts on health of people who consume it.”
They then go on to provide some legal information pertaining to the ingredient, as well as substitutes for it (just use squid ink for goodness sake, would you?).
CocktailSafe.org brings all this information together in one place so that you can be better informed about the ingredients you’re using in your drinks. Give it a look in the development phase, and you might just save yourself — and your customers — a whole heap of gut-wrenching agony.