Every so often, someone invents a new product category that is brilliant yet simple, and you wonder: Where has this been all my life?
(OK, they’ve been around for a few years, since 2015…) I came across Alice & the Magician‘s wonderful tasting room quite serendipitously—they had all the buzzwords that spoke to me: “edible fragrance,” “headspace,” “cocktail aromatics,” “free tasting”!
Said tasting began with an explanation that 80% to 90% of taste is through smell, and adding a few spritzes of edible aroma to the surface and headspace of a drink enhances its flavor, or adds flavor to it. The intended customer base is mostly bartenders who want to make their fancy cocktails even fancier (my words).
The sniffing tour started with more familiar scents, such as grapefruit, lemongrass, and sage, before progressing to heavier, adventurous ones such as Autumn Bonfire (cade and guaïac wood) and Chocolate Birthday Cake.
Everything smelled exactly as promised. Ginger. Cilantro. Chinese Five Spice. Tomato Leaf!
Then came the functional test: a sip of tonic water, followed by a sip of tonic water with a couple of spritzes of London Dry. Instant gin and tonic without the alcohol (except as a solvent for the mist).
- I asked if it would work with regular water, and the answer was no; you need the bubbly-ness of tonic or seltzer to bring out the effect.
The aromas are designed to last for the approximate amount of time it takes (someone faster than me) to finish a drink: 10 to 15 minutes. Ergo, if it doesn’t taste good, just leave it for a while and you’ll get your original drink back.
“So, are they all top notes?” I asked, remembering the smoke and chocolate right as I said it. —Not all of them, but even the ones that would be base notes are engineered to last around the same time.
“How do you do that?” —[hesitation] The way we mix them… by the concentrations in which they’re blended, and other things.
“Can you wear it as perfume?” (Very Important Question!) —I mean, you can certainly wear them, but they wouldn’t last very long, although they might last a little longer on the skin.
Banter leads to business, and I realized that I don’t really drink anything at home that would do these marvels justice. So I asked what might go well with creamy coffee. —The Chocolate Birthday Cake would turn that into a mocha. It’s a really fun one.
“Will it react with the coffee or the half & half?” (By react I meant make it curdle.) —No, it wouldn’t do anything to it. *Phew.*
Given my soft spot for smoky scents, I deliberated between that and Autumn Bonfire for a long minute. Spritz, spritz. Sniff, sniff. Finally I took the recommendation.
Nothing more anticipatory after a long weekend than the thought of perfuming my morning coffee!
(Many sprays to get one successful photo with the mist…)
The verdict: it’s mild stuff, but it definitely adds a je ne sais quoi to my white hot coffee (I mean hot white coffee). It’s almost a little boozy. What thrilled me was the clean feel of it—flavor without flavorings. I cannot stand flavored coffee because the syrups taste artificial, thick, and leave an unpleasant aftertaste. This is a clever alternative. No calories, to boot!
I also tried it with iced coffee, wondering whether the flavor might be brighter without the heat. Surprisingly, the effect was about the same as with hot coffee. I guess the heavy, dark sapor of coffee and half & half renders the mixture not the best vehicle for this fragrant fantasia.