MoMix is a group originally from Athens with three bars and a lab focusing on molecular mixology (hence its name). Its promise is “Here you can travel your mind tasting cocktails & drinks in solid form and many other alternative ways…”As I had never had a molecular cocktail in my life, I was very curious to taste one. I was thus happy, mid-May, to discover MoMix had recently opened their third bar in Santorini where I had flown in for the weekend! So, one evening, after dinner, I took the direction of the group’s newest location for my first experience with molecular mixology.
The bar was not easy to find! First, Google Maps wouldn’t locate it. Then, when I finally found the street it was on, there were no numbers on the buildings to guide me in the right direction. So I started wandering up and down the street, which, if you’ve never been to Santorini, is an uphill downhill walk as the town is built on the slopes of the island. It was a nice stroll though and I saw a few shops I returned to the following day. After ending up at the top of the stairs leading towards the port I realised I had wandered too far and backtracked on my steps. Nearly back at the start of the street I found the bar’s signage! Hurray!
When I passed the door and stepped into the bar, I felt like I was entering a cavern. Dug inside the cliff, with a low rounded ceiling, the bar is divided into three zones: a first bar right at the entrance, a second bar occupying most of a long wide passageway with a live DJ at the end and, finally, a reasonably sized room with tables. It was still off season and early evening when I went so there weren’t many guests yet.
I sat at the second bar which seemed to be the busier one. I was handed the rather unusual menu: a big Plexiglas cube with the cocktails and shots printed on the sides. Original but not very practical when you’re trying to decide between several drinks and they’re all on different sides of the cube! True to the bar’s philosophy, every drink applies a different technique of mixology: foam, fizz, jelly, dehydration, spherification, …
You’ve probably guessed it: it was a tough call choosing my first cocktail, especially as they all seemed to taste very sweet and I prefer dry drinks.I finally settled on a Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, “a sweet and sour cocktail with gin, filtered in lychee and hibiscus foam, intensely scented with blossom and herbs”. The cocktail name refers to the protagonist of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by German author Patrick Süskind. The reason why will be your guess and mine as I only found out about the literary reference while writing this post! Maybe it was meant to say the cocktail is a killer? Anyway, it was pretty tasty, with a fairly good balance between the sweet and sour tastes. The foam was surprising as it was a bit fizzy.
I started taking pictures of the cocktail for the blog which got the bartender’s attention. Once he learned it was my first experience with mixology drinks, he offered me a P&M bubble: jellied Midori served on a spoon filled with passion fruit sauce. Well, I usually don’t like Midori but that…that was absolutely yummy! The combination of the melon and passion fruit reminded me of some candy I used to eat in my childhood!
Bubbles can be made instantly using the reverse spherification technique. I could observe the whole process as it was done at the bar for the guests to enjoy it. The liqueur, which is pre-mixed with calcium lactate or calcium lactate gluconate, is poured in a ladle filled with a sodium alginate bath. The contact between the liquids shapes the liqueur into a sphere held by a thin gel membrane. The bubble is then dipped into a gigantic Martini glass filled with ordinary water until use. It will then be fished and placed upon a serving spoon filled with a fruit puree or a foam, ready to serve! I really liked the fact that spherification was done at the bar in front of the guests. It’s intriguing and fun to watch for customers.
Back to the drinks
For my last drink of the night, I chose the Molecular palette. A clever way to let people try most of the molecular techniques on the menu in one go! Don’t expect drinks though as the cocktails will come in a solid form. Served on a small plate you’ll have 4 jello cubes (one flavoured with piña colada; one mixing Bailey’s, Kahlua and a chocolate infused tequila; one with a mastiha based concoction and the last one with tsipouro. Mastiha and tsipouro are both Greek liquors made from the mastic plant with a flavour reminiscing of the pine tree), topped with rose liqueur caviar and a mastiha foam. Unfortunately, I can’t say I enjoyed the palette very much. While the presentation and the fact of “eating” cocktails was amusing, the jello cubes were quite filling, verging on cloying to be honest, and I don’t like the taste of mastiha and tsipouro. I couldn’t finish the cubes and sampled just a bit of the mastiha foam. The rose liqueur caviar was pretty good though and I nearly finished it off.
What with its set up, the great music and the “show” provided by the live use of mixology techniques, MoMix Santorini makes for a good night out with friends. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll like the cocktails just fine. If you’re into stronger, drier drinks however, you might want to stick to classic cocktails however.