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For Mizuna barman Austin James Carson, discovering interesting cocktail ingredients is what fuels his passion. Much of Mizuna’s drinks menu changes monthly, giving Carson the chance to build tipples around his current obsession and constantly surprise his guests.
One of Carson’s most notable recent creations is the Pharmacopeia, an elevated tiki drink of sorts. The beverage blends angostura bitters (a full ounce of the stuff), rhum agricole (made from pressed cane juice rather than fermented molasses), a white chocolate mix (a blend of white chocolate, coconut crème, and white crème de cacao), tropical fruit juices (pineapple, orange, lemon, and lime), and aguafaba.
What is aguafaba, you ask? Well, it’s the brine from cooked garbanzo beans. If you’re wondering what bean water is doing in a drink, you’re probably not the only one. As it turns out, aguafaba is frequently used as a substitute for egg whites in vegan recipes and baked goods. It’s so similar in texture, in fact, that it can even be whipped into an egg-free meringue. It’s an especially compelling ingredient for cocktails, many of which rely on shaken egg whites for rich, velvety textures. The proteins from the bean water—when combined with the right blend of acid, alcohol, and sugar—emulsify and create a lovely foam on the top of the drink just as egg whites would.
In fact, Carson says he’d actually much rather work with aguafaba rather than egg whites. It’s less messy, more sanitary, and actually yields a more reliable result than eggs do. The foam is flavorless and practically odorless. But best of all, cocktails made with aguafaba hold the same texture and consistency from first sip to last, while those shaken with egg whites tend to separate into watery layers if not consumed quickly. Carson says aguafaba is a great ingredient in any cocktail that normally calls for egg whites: A Hemingway Daiquiri, a Ramos gin fizz, and a white lady all make good examples.
Making aguafaba is unbelievably simple. Carson simply drains a can of garbanzo beans, reserving the liquid, then refills the can full of beans with water, covers it, and lets it sit for 24 hours. He then combines the reserved original bean liquid with the fresh bean water for a mix that’s not too thick or bean-y.
To create the luxuriously foamy drink, Carson combines all of the cocktail’s ingredients in a shaker with one ice cube and a spoonful of aguafaba, then does what’s known in the biz as a “dry shake” to emulsify the mix. He then adds a scoop of ice and continues to shake. Finally, he pours the cocktail into a Collins glass and garnishes it with a slice of lime. The Pharmacopeia (so named for the medicinal, tonic-like properties of the bitters) is a sultry pink hue, a long-legged dame of a cocktail that happens to be a virtual beach escape in a glass. (So appropriate for a Denver February.)
Head over to Mizuna to try this one-of-a-kind cocktail through the end of the month. Come March, this sipper is likely to be gone.
225 E. Seventh Ave., 303-832-4778