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What is Aquafaba and How Can it Improve a Cocktail?

It may not be all the rage, but aquafaba certainly accounts for a slice of it these days. On the surface, it’s nothing much: quite literally the liquid from chickpeas. But as a cocktail input, aquafaba has true cameo power.

There are many things going for it. For one, it’s a vegan option that many bartenders are reaching for instead of using dairy or eggs. Further, many prefer to believe it adds a unique and superior combination of flavor and texture to cocktails that rely on the mouthfeel, like a Pisco Sour or Tom & Jerry, just to name two. At the very least, it’s the most fun to say in-form ingredient since the heydays of orgeat or Marsala (yeah, you can mix with that).

chickpeas

While it’s tempting to think aquafaba will taste like chickpeas, it really doesn’t. The flavors, a tad bitter and earthy, are very muted. Those are big reasons why it’s taken on a higher status lately, as egg whites tend to be fairly neutral, too, albeit not fit for every diet. And while the egg can be a bit odorous, aquafaba is practically fragrance-free. Hence, the liquid’s heightened popularity in the last half-decade as not just a mixed drink hero but a key ingredient in desserts and various baked goods. It can thicken soups and form the base of a good sauce, too. But for this piece, we love it in drinks as it offers some weight to a cocktail and works as an ideal emulsifier.

How to Make Aquafaba

Wooden bowl and wooden spoon full of chickpeas on wooden background. Top view.
 

Yes, you can simply buy some chickpea cans and drain and store the liquid. That is far and away from the simplest means of getting your paws on some aquafaba. But if you want to be more involved in the process, and dial in some flavor preferences en route, we like this simple recipe from Inspired Taste.

Prep Time: 5 minutes (plus overnight soaking)
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: Several cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas
  • Water

Method:

  1. Soak dried chickpeas in water overnight. Make sure they’re submerged fully in water.
  2. Drain the chickpeas then add them to a large pot with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours.
  3. Once chickpeas are cooked, turn of heat and cover with lid. Allow beans to cool in cooking liquid, affording extra starch.
  4. When cool, remove chickpeas with slotted spoon, then bring cooking liquid to a simmer for another 30-45 minutes. The liquid should reduce and thicken, turning more yellow.
  5. Allow aquafaba to cool and store in fridge up to 5 days or in freezer for months.

Using it in Cocktails

One of the main takeaways here is that aquafaba can be used in place of egg whites in many cocktails. Generally, one-and-half to two ounces of aquafaba will suffice for every one egg white a recipe asks for. Play around a bit with shaking intensity and length of time but note that generally, it may take a bit longer to get your desired level of foaminess. Also, you may notice that aquafaba has more of a fragrance right away, but that dissipates (pretty much completely) after a good shake. That’s another reason to test out your shaking times, as you may want to hold on to a bit of those subtle aromatics, depending on your recipe.

Here are few aquafaba cocktails to try.

The String of Hearts

String of Hearts cocktail.
Israel Palacio

(Created by Marisa Johnson, The Plot, Oceanside)

This drink out of sunny California counts on aquafaba to stitch together the delicate aromatics of Lillet with a nutty amaro and peppercorn, something it does rather seamlessly.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Lillet Rose
  • 1 ounce aquafaba
  • 1/2 ounce Cardamaro
  • 1/2 ounce pink peppercorn syrup
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • Orange zest

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients except zest into cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds, so drink is chilled and foam from aquafaba forms.
  3. Strain into a glass.
  4. Express and garnish with orange wedge along with optional edible flower.

Apple Cider Fizz

Apple Fizz cocktail.

Here, aquafaba plays the role of egg whites and almond milk offers a lighter alternative to heavy cream, making for a layered but not-too-heavy wintertime drink.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Nolet’s Silver Gin
  • 1 ounce apple cider
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • 1.5 ounces aquafaba
  • 1.5 ounces club soda
  • .25 ounce almond milk
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • Demerara sugar and cinnamon for the rim

Method:

  1. Before mixing, prepare the glass by combining 1/4 cup of Demerara sugar and 2 tsp. ground cinnamon in a shallow bowl.
  2. Moisten the rim of the glass with a wedge of lemon, and dip into sugar mixture, turning to distribute evenly.
  3. Combine all ingredients but the club soda to a mixing tin without ice.
  4. Shake vigorously for about a minute, add ice, and continue to shake until the outside of the tin frosts up and the liquid inside is cold and frothy.
  5. Strain into the sugar-rimmed glass, leaving a little room for soda.
  6. Gently pour soda in and spoon remaining froth on top, then garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Buchanan’s Pineapple Smash

Buchanan's Pineapple smash cocktail.

This delight blends Scotch with tropical flavors and loads of citrus, married and evened out by the mild flavor of aquafaba and its incredible ability to fuse multiple ingredients cleanly.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces Buchanan’s 12-Year Deluxe Scotch
  • 1 ounce aquafaba
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • .5 ounce simple syrup
  • .25 ounce lime juice
  • 1 (1/4-inch) wedge grilled pineapple
  • 4 mint leaves
  • 3 dashes orange bitters

Method:

  1. Place grilled pineapple, mint leaves, and simple syrup in a tumbler and lightly press with a muddler.
  2. Leave the muddler in the tumbler and add Scotch, pouring it over the muddler to rinse it off.
  3. Add aquafaba, lemon juice, lime juice, and orange bitters and shake dry (no ice).
  4. Once foamy, add ice and shake again for 10 seconds.
  5. Serve in a coupe glass. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel.

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