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Idea Festival Taste of Innovation Mixologist Stephen Dennison at Taste of Innovation, Idea Festival, Louisville Kentucky

The Taste of Innovation, held in Louisville, Kentucky at the landmark Galt House Hotel, has become a wonderful venue for local cocktailians and culinarians to showcase some of their more adventurous concepts to the general public. It is one of the premier events at the Idea Festival and this year attracted 500+ of the area’s inquisitive.

I was on hand, representing Dumante Verdenoce. Dumante is a pistachio liqueur artisanally produced in Italy with a blend of five types of vanilla. Deep, strong and unrepentant, it was created originally to accompany a cigar at the end of the meal; a super premium nut liqueur, indeed. I was pleased to showcase the spirit’s mixability- it’s willingness to play with others, so to speak.

The Purpose of the Drink: To show innovative techniques and flavors that people could use while entertaining at home. There could be no liquid nitrogen, no encapsulation. Just ‘wow’ that can be had at the local grocery. Also keep in mind that this was a tasting format for 500, over a two-hour timeframe. Quick, to the point and easily reproducible would be the rule of the day.

We chose to play with dry ice as a method of super-chilling. As opposed to regular ice, it adds no water, but evaporates the liquid it is stored in (intensifying said liquid.) Dry ice evaporates from the outside-in, doesn’t crack and shatter and therefore is quite safe to work with as long as someone doesn’t swallow it. We simply kept the dry ice in the tin. The vapor, heavier than air, settles into the glass and holds expressed citrus quite well.

Use safety glasses when chipping dry ice. Be aware of matters of touch, as it will frostbite. Also store it with plenty of insulation between it and whatever it is sitting upon.

The first drink: Four Points

1.5 oz Linne Aquavit (Scandinavia)
1 oz Dumante (Italy)
Garnish of Tapioca Pearls (USA) Macerated in a combination of Mango Drink (UAE,) Pom Pomegranate Juice (USA,) and lemon juice- a mango/pomegranate sour mix, essentially.

Place Dumante and Linne in tin. Add a 1” square cube of dry ice. Let stand for five seconds. Strain into cocktail glass. Add tsp of tapioca pearls. Express Lemon swath.

The key to macerating tapioca pearls is multiple washes of water and macerating liquid. Store, refrigerated in four times the volume of the pearls. If they become starchy and sticky wash them and add more macerating liquid.

It is a complex blend of caraway, nut and fruit that drinks hot and ironically should be taken at the beginning of a meal.

Now on to the improvisations…

Our friends from Java Brewing Company then brought us some fresh coffee and some half and half and we set to making a snap iced coffee. My problem with many iced coffees is that they become watered down by the ice. Our technique does the opposite- it intensifies the flavor.

1 oz. Dumante
4 oz. Quality Coffee
½ oz. Half and Half

Place in tin. Add 2 1” square cubes of dry ice. Let stand for 5-7 seconds. Strain into coffee mug.

With the coffee drink a hit, we set to borrow some bottles of Bluegrass Brewing Company’s Bourbon Barrel Stout, a beer that I have made this drink before with.

1 oz. Dumante
4.5 oz. BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout, chilled

Place into tin. Add 1” square cube dry ice. Let stand for 5 seconds. Strain into Snifter.

Much to my surprise, a foam formed and stabilized- unusual for this style of beer. Getting caught in a conversation, I also found that a foam formed, stabilized and froze in my tin!

Good thing it was the end of the night.

Article and recipes by Mixologist Stephen Dennison Dumante Verdenoce


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