Rotovap – Centrifuge – Sonic Prep – YAY or NAY?? Part 2
So the verdict on the Rotovap was that if you use the Rotovap as a pivotal part of your beverage program, it will inevitably be worth the investment, but be sure to do accurate costings when using a Rotovap produced ingredients in a cocktail! Take into account not only the cost of the initial ingredients, but also calculate man-hours and electricity into your cost analysis.
What then of Dave Arnold, from Booker and Dax, NYC’s favourite toy, the Centrifuge and the Sonicprep™, an apparatus that is often used by Simone Caporale, whom was an empirical part of the award winning bar team at the Artesian at the Langham Hotel in London? Well, let’s take a closer look shall we? What are these 2 pieces of equipment used for and do they carry a hefty price tag like the Roto Evaporator Still?
So here is the bad news – whilst a new Centrifuge is marginally less expensive than a Rotovap, it is still a substantial investment and the Sonicprep™ will set you back around the same amount it costs you to setup a Rotovap. So, if you are going to make use of any of these pieces of tech equipment, you best be sure you have a sound investment.
The number one use for the centrifuge is clarification. Centrifuges are popularly used in laboratories all over the world to separate different particles in liquids like blood. They work on a principle of sedimentation, where the high speed rotational spin causes denser substances and particles to move outward in the radial direction centrifugal force. In short, a centrifuge is simply a machine that spins around to make a large and useful force. Another great example of a Centrifuge (a much larger one) is the piece of equipment that they use to spin pilots and astronauts to test their abilities to withstand high speeds and pressure – which you would have seen in movies/documentaries.
In a bar, using a large commercial Centrifuge, one can create a clarified fruit juice through the use of a Centrifuge and the left over sediment/solids can be dehydrated to be used as part of a garnish. Due to the aggressive process though, there is not much flavour left in the sediment. Apart from the fact that a 3litre centrifuge, costs allot, takes up quite a bit of space, you also need to ensure it is placed on a very solid base, like the floor! The process is extremely aggressive and the machine start up can rip a weak counter top apart in now time. So the question is – is it really worth it and similarly, if you are going to be clarifying allot of ingredients used in your cocktail menu and it is an important part of your USP, then yes. It is important to note however, that there are cheaper, but more time consuming and labour intensive techniques to clarify ingredients – more on this in another blog.
The Sonicprep™ by PolyScience
The Sonicprep™ by PolyScience, the same guys that brought us the Smoking Gun and a series of circulating baths similar to the Sous Vide, is a very unique and exciting piece of equipment. From it’s appearance it looks like something that belongs in a laboratory, rather than a kitchen, but what does it do exactly? In layman’s terms, it’s a mixer that allows you to draw flavour from a solid into a liquid in without having to wait for extended periods of time – like you do when macerating. The system emits ultrasonic sound waves to extract, infuse, homogenize, emulsify, suspend or de-gas. The range of techniques that this apparatus can be used for is endless. From creating a rapid aged spirit, homogenizing spirit and cream to infusing spirits and liqueurs with fresh herbs whilst maintaining the fresh flavour elements.
As previously mentioned, it too comes with a pretty price tag, but in our opinion, based on the multiple uses of the Sonicprep™, it could be a solid investment if used regularly enough. Fair warning though, be sure to use it carefully within the casing and read all of the instructions to fully get to grips with all of its uses. The ultrasonic waves created can deafen the user if not used correctly and will at the very least leave you with a very throbbing headache if use irresponsibly.
There you have it. Let’s end of with this – with tech or no tech equipment in your bar, bartending is about service, not overly technical and expensive toys. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t afford the top of the range toys, because you are what makes your bar worth visiting, is not the Centrifuge, but your hospitality.
Contact us if you’re looking for one of these high tech pieces of equipment.