Tim Pope explains how to imitate the process of fermentation

Imitation Ferments: How to circumvent the time and inconsistency that comes hand in hand with natural ferments.

By Tim Pope, award-winning Melbourne bartender and soon to be bar owner. He dreams of creating a modern classic. You can find Tim on insta @lordofthetins

The ferments trend has skyrocketed in popularity recently and with good reason as their unique individual complexity has brought a new dimension to the drinking experience.
So why develop an imitation ferment? The concept came about while Tony Huang and I were doing some R&D on what our cocktail list should look like for our own venue called ‘PAR’ which, fingers crossed will open early 2022.

Fermentation for me is like a double-edged sword. All that amazing flavour takes time, and each batch is subtly different due to the live nature of fermentation. So, we set out to recreate all the aspects we love with added control and consistency, being the two core concepts of our cocktail creation style. We reflect and action these concepts enthusiastically in all our menus. Also, I am impatient and 24hrs is already too much time before I can try a cocktail idea.

“Where it gets tricky (and the really fun part) is how to recreate these with the impression of a natural fermentation process. For example, mead can take up to 3 months to turn around into a drinkable product.”

So now for the fun stuff. We broke down a ferment into all its defining flavours and characteristics (sweetness, acidity, texture and funk). Now, these are all the things you factor in for a normal cocktail. Where it gets tricky (and the really fun part) is how to recreate these with the impression of a natural fermentation process. For example, mead can take up to 3 months to turn around into a drinkable product. We have been serving cocktails using this style across 2 new venues and have had amazing feedback each time.

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Sweet – For your sweet component, you can use any sugar base you want. This can range from simple syrup to jams and even liqueurs.
Acidity – This aspect was achieved after a few trial and errors. In the end a blend of natural apple cider vinegar and a mixture of citric was the winning solution.
Texture – To add the texture, we used a carbonation rig set at 50psi which recreated the ideal level of effervescence that we feel closely mirrors the effervesce that naturally occurs.
Funk – And finally the most important factor that ties all the flavours and techniques together is the addition of inactive yeast which pushes that funky natural ferment throughout your palate.

The combination of all these result in a cocktail that although it’s an imitation of a ferment, it still produces and highlights all the complexity of a fermented serve with the added advantage of consistency as there is no naturally occurring fermentation over time, coupled with the 24hr turn around that enables for a lot more freedom to play with cocktails. This formula took a while to get right and I am super proud to share this new technique. The two cocktails featured show the versatility of this technique from an entry version to a more complex one, giving you an idea of the combinations, it allows.

Funky mezcal (Mead Imitation) 500ml
292.5g Distilled Water
58.5g Organic Raw Honey
19.5g Organic Cider Vinegar
2.4g Citric Acid
2.4g Inactive Yeast
117g Mezcal

Combine all ingredients into a mixing jug and whisk thoroughly. Bottle immediately and leave to rack in the fridge overnight. Strain slowly through a coffee filter the now clarified liquid leaving the yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Refrigerate again and carbonate to 50psi before use.
Serve in a chilled wine glass with no garnish.

Symbol (Tepache Imitation) 500ml
292.5g Water
58.5g House Pineapple Jam (infused with cinnamon & pepperberry with lemon myrtle)
19.5g House Pineapple Vinegar
2.4g Citric Acid
2.4g Inactive Yeast
117g Pineapple infused Rum

Make Pineapple Jam by combining 1 cup of sugar, 4 cups of Pineapple diced and 2tbsp of lemon juice. Reduce to a Jam consistency. Infuse with 1 stick of cinnamon and 5 ml of pepperberry and of lemon myrtle for 4hrs.
Combine all ingredients into a mixing jug and whisk thoroughly. Bottle immediately and leave to rack in the fridge overnight. Strain slowly through a coffee filter the now clarified liquid leaving the yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Refrigerate again and carbonate to 50psi before use.
Serve over ice in a double rocks glass with optional Pineapple frond garnish.

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