Photo: Idandersen, Flickr
Brillat-Savarin recorded in his elegant and classic tome, The Physiology of Taste (1825), "I am...tempted to believe that smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose." Though lacking modern science to prove it, he couldn't deny the inherent, but elusive connection between aroma and flavor -- the subject of a weekend-long seminar at Astor Center in New York City.
"Most of what we perceive to be taste is actually smell," explained Audrey Saunders, lauded mixologist and owner of the Pegu Club (NYC). Friday evening at a panel discussing the alchemy of cocktail aromatics, Saunders revealed a few of her secrets to expressing fragrance through cocktails.
Saunders first began to experiment with aroma around the time she worked at the Carlyle Hotel while preparing for a week tending bar at the London Ritz. She wanted to create an aromatic cocktail using gin and tea -- the patron spirits of English imbibing. Her experiments faltered until she realized (with the advice of one Harold McGee) that egg white is an excellent conductor of scent and after a few iterations, created what is now a Pegu Club mainstay, the Earl Grey MarTEAni. Throughout the process she discovered a few key lessons about building fragrant cocktails that apply to any bar -- home or professional. See them after the jump.