In recent years, professional bartenders and mixologists have experimented with new ingredients in their quest to develop thrilling and flavorful cocktails. Among the many innovative ingredients, nitrogen gas stands out. What are nitrogen craft cocktails, and what makes a nitro beverage so special?
In this guide, we’ll explore the exciting world of the latest mixology trend – nitro infused cocktails – and learn why nitro drinks continue to be developed for bars and restaurants around the world.
Nitrogen Bubbles add Thrills and Flavor
Infusing your beer (i.e. Guiness) or cocktails with nitrogen gas adds a unique creamy texture and a foamy head to beverages. The term refers to incorporate nitro gas into a beverage, including cocktails, beers, and even wine.
This infusing process also gives aromas and flavors a boost. Nitro infusion is typically done by using a whipping siphon; nitrogen gas cartridges are loaded into the siphon and used to create the creamy head in pre-mixed cocktails and beers. There is no other equipment needed!
Even coffee shops are getting into the nitro drinks craze, with nitro-infused cold brew coffees and lattes some of the most popular choices. Nitro coffee is characterized by a creamy, foamy texture that pleases the taste.
What is Nitrogen Gas?
Nitrogen gas is a chemical element with the symbol N and atomic number 7. It is the most abundant gas in the Earth’s atmosphere, making up about 78% of its volume. Nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert gas, meaning it does not readily react with other elements or compounds under normal conditions. There are no particular health benefits to using nitrogen gas; this gas merely adds an innovative texture.
Nitrogen gas is perfectly safe to use in food and beverages preparation. When nitrogen gas is used to carbonate drinks, it does not add its own flavor; it merely changes the mouthfeel of drinks while improving its own natural aromas and flavor.
Carbonation is usually reserved for carbon dioxide (CO2), another flavorless and relatively inert gas. The key difference between CO2 and nitrogen gas is that the bubble size of nitrogen is much smaller, adding a foamy texture and creamier mouthfeel to nitro drinks and other beverages like nitro beers. Cascading bubbles are the hallmark of the nitro infused drinks.
Nitro Cocktails to Sample
Why would a mixologist make nitrogen craft cocktails? What is used to infuse nitrogen into the cocktail?
It’s really simple: Nitrogen adds another dimension of flavor and texture to even the most traditional cocktail recipe. Nitro infused cocktails need only a nitrogen dispenser and gas cartridges to pull off this innovative bar favorite.
Larger establishments may use more complex equipment to complete the nitro infused cocktails process. In these cases, nitrogen chargers or a tap system allows the mixologist to make larger batches. If you’re ready to start serving nitro drinks at home, the siphon and gas cartridges are all you need.
Popular Nitro Cocktails to Try
Some of the most popular nitro drinks include:
- Chocolate martinis
- Standard martinis
- Old Fashioneds
- Moscow Mules
- Nitro jungle birds
In simple terms, nitro can be added to nearly every cocktail recipe, including time-honored favorites using vodka, whiskey, gin, and tequila. No drink is off the table; if it’s liquid, it’s fair game for experimentation.
With the addition of cream, simple syrup or sugar, milk, or egg whites, that frothy cocktail takes on an exciting new dimension!
Don’t Forget About Nitro Infused Beer
Some of the most popular craft stouts on the market have incorporated nitrogen gas into the carbonation process. When most brewers carbonate beer, they use CO2, which is perfectly adequate. Nitrogen gas, on the other hand, is a different story. Nitrogen creates a fun and smooth mouthfeel that is noticeably different from standard beers.
Commercial breweries like Guinness have used nitrogen in the production process for decades. Craft beer makers the world over have discovered the thrill of using nitro gas; beers infused with nitrogen gain popularity each year.