Cocktails the MIT way: High-tech and physics-charged

Credit: MIT

Even the folks at MIT need to blow off a little steam now and again. But as it turns out, hitting the bar doesn't necissarily mean that an engineer stops being an engineer. A recent collaboration between chefs, engineers and scientists over at MIT has resulted in some fantasic new ways to get your drink on.

Rather than inventing a new drink recipe or two, the team looked into how you might have a little more fun with the drinks you already enjoy. What they came up with were a self-navigating cocktail boat and light-up, booze-sipping flower. Each of the inventions were inspired by nature and the physics of surface tension — and maybe a couple rounds of the good stuff.

The cocktail boat was designed to skim across the surface of your drink, much like a water-walking insect, using the alcohol content of your drink as a propellant. The harder the cocktail you've got in your glass, the faster the boat can go. The boat's thrust comes from a groove in its aft end, from which trapped alcohol tries to escape. Adding to the enjoyment of the sight of a little boat tootling around in your scotch is the fact that the boats are entirely edible, being crafted from candies.

The group's second invention, the floral pipette, is designed to allow you to enjoy your drink one sip at a time, from the petals of a flower. Dipping the pipette beneath the surface of your drink spreads the flower's petals, while removing it pulls them closed again. The act of removing the pipette from your drink also creates a zone of hydrostatic low pressure within the closed flower, meaning that once you put the flower in your mouth, you're greeted by a small sip of booze, delivered right onto your tongue. As with the cocktail boats, the flower's petals are edible; an LED embedded in the flower's center adds a visual bit of fun to the whole experience.

While the designs for these fun drinking ideas were put together by MIT's Lisa Burton and Nadia Cheng, it was chef José Andrés and his ThinkFood group that finalized the recipes for the edible final versions. There's no word yet on where you can get your hands on either invention, so for now we'll have to deal with garnishing and enjoying our beverages the old fashioned way.


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