I attended the Golden State of Cocktails in January and let me tell you, I came back with so much information on mixology, cocktails, beer, botany, prohibition and more, that my head needed a vacation for a couple of days. During those few days, I also tasted and tasted and tasted - not a bad way to spend my week. I was able to make make way into pretty much any class I wanted with the exception of The Pharmacology Behind Creating Flavor-Addicting Cocktails. I was told in advance that this class was completely booked, however on the day of the class, I patiently awaited outside and ended up grabbing a seat because there were a few no-shows.
The room was packed and the class was led by Larrian Gillespie, MD (CEO of Culinary Science Investigations, Addiction Mixology). I didn't know what I'd get out of the class, but according to neighboring attendees, her class sold out the previous year too. Before we got too deep into the seminar, Gillespie explained that the plastic vials in front of us would be used to test our abilities on taste and scent; each were numbered and accompanied by a sheet where we could list our guesses. Below are some of the memorable key points and knowledge she bestowed upon us.
How it all of this information tied to mixology and the art of the cocktail? "Cocktails are a culinary emotion," remarks Gillespie. How we experience eating or drinking or decide what we want to eat or drink is based on many factors, but especially what we see and smell is particularly important to these processes. "All glassware is subliminally sexual," says Gillespie. This theory dates all the way back to Marie Antoinette, which legend says that the original Champagne coupe glass was modelled after her left breast and a smaller one, centuries later, was modeled after Kate Moss'. Gillespie says a customer is more likely to spend 30% more on a artfully designed drink. And smell? Now it might make more sense to you as to why a bartender will express the oils of fresh citrus peels on the lip of your drink; it's more than just a garnish.
One of her quotes that stuck out to me the most was, "A cocktail is really liquid sex," so make your booze a sexy and sensory experience - even down to the glassware you choose. The way a drink looks and smells in its complete presentation is very important for the potential consumer or guest. Turn on the cocktail charm and not only will you "up" your check average, but you will most likely entice your patron to order another round and pay a little bit more. Makes perfect sense to me.