“You got that extra batch of calcium chloride ready?” yells the tall mustachioed man in the tailored vest. Despite the sweat and the frantic look on his face, Jacob Hise is looking positively dapper on this Thursday night.
It’s June 11 and his posh new downtown bar, HighWire Lounge, is about to open to the public. And he has to make sure he’s got the right solutions. The concept, which he started with fellow Tucsonan Nick Wayne Eggman, specializes in “molecular mixology,” a big-city trend that’s finally getting its day in the Old Pueblo. The movement draws from scientific technique to redefine flavors and textures, sometimes in off-the-wall ways.
The bar’s signature drink is the ElBulli Bubbles Prickly Pear Margarita, named after the famous Spanish restaurant that pioneered the molecular gastronomy craze in the 2000s. Jacob “spherifies” tequila into little droplets the size and texture of caviar, which burst in your mouth and fill it with liquor. He immerses these bubbles in a prickly pear foam from a pressurized canister, and then rims the little shot glass with salt.
Another cocktail on the menu made me feel like a kid in a candy store. The Contortionist starts like a fruity vodka martini with Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka, white cranberry and pineapple juices. But then they throw in Pop Rocks. And after that, locally-made Fluff It Up organic cotton candy. When the puff goes in, it dissolves immediately, turning the drink milky purple.
Wow, is it sweet. Almost like throwing a Kool-Aid packet into a jug of V8 Splash. But at the end, when you get to the Pop Rocks that settled on the bottom? Bang! Your mouth is crackling and crazy like a chemistry experiment gone wrong. But be careful, it may get you in trouble!