This is really cool – apparently someone (a French mixologist named Fernando Castellon) has invented a way to create gel-like pearls out of Cointreau. You need to use a special top-secret kit, and there are only 20 of these kits in the US, given out to VIP bartenders.
The process is called “spherification”, and it’s unique to Cointreau because of the specific sugar content and PH level. These qualities make it possible to solidify the liquer (into a sort of “Cointreau caviar”) without having to add any scary chemicals that would negatively affect the taste. Actually, these alcohol pearls are made with only Cointreau, Evian water (apparently Evian has the right calcium levels…but it sounds like a marketing ploy to me), and a special vegan “gel”. After the mixture is added into a calcite bath and then dunked in water, the magical pearls form and harden.
You can add these little gems to all types of drinks – from ice-cold martinis to hot toddies. I want one of those kits asap – I could use an after hours science experiment.
Check out this video to see mixologist Derek Neilsen from Hampton’s bar “Sen” show off some Cointreau-spherification. You’ll see that the pearls Derek creates are blue – one of the cool things about this process is that you can add food coloring to the mixture and it doesn’t affect the chemistry…the possibilities are endless.