(Actually) Electric Lemonade

You probably aren’t going to believe this one.

You may or may not be familiar with the drink called Electric Lemonade. If you aren’t, you soon will be. It’s lemony, it’s electric blue (well, that’s the idea anyway), it’s made the way most drinks are made. Unsurprising but pleasant.

Strangely applied science now brings us a beverage experience which is apparently lemonade but which only exists because of some electronics. Yes, it is electric lemonade which is not, without electricity, lemonade at all.

Electric What, Now?

The New Scientist article presents the odd breakthrough as a way to transmit flavor through the internet, and that was the impetus. The ways of doing so are pretty limited at this point, however, so what actually happened was an intriguing experiment in simulating a flavor by tricking a few senses.

A tumbler with a mild electrical buzzer and colored LED lights received the color and pH read from an actual cup of lemonade, reproducing that for the end user. Cold water took care of the rest.

To test the effectiveness of the digital tumbler, the team got 13 people to taste a variety of real and virtual lemonades, without knowing which was which. The lemonades came in three colours: yellow, green and cloudy white. The volunteers were trained to rest their tongue on the rim of the tumbler while drinking, so they would benefit from the electrical stimulation. They were asked to rate each drink on how sour it looked, and then how sour it tasted.

On average, people reported that the real lemonade tasted sourer than the virtual version. However, they perceived the virtual cloudy lemonade as sourer based on its colour alone, perhaps because of the brightness of the LEDs.

The current system is not yet able to transmit the full flavour profile of a drink. “Unless you simulate olfaction, true flavour cannot be reproduced,” says Amol Bhondekar at the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation in India.

But the team plans to add other functions. “We’re working on a full virtual cocktail with smell, taste and colour all covered. We want to be able to create any drink,” says Ranasinghe.

This could be an awful lot of fun if they manage such a feat, and would definitely make it easier to describe a correctly made cocktail!

Something More Tangible

Until such time, your humble host must continue to describe drinks as well as he may to anyone not close enough to visit the Garden in person.

The Sybarite’s recipe below is one of many, many versions of this popular poolside beverage:

  • Sometimes it will be blended, more often on the rocks.
  • It should technically be made in a hurricane glass, though is often seen in more common glassware.
  • The garnishes vary wildly.
  • Sometimes it’s even a highball. I’ll include that one.
  • Normally it’s made with sweet & sour, but for some reason your host can never seem to keep that in stock and will often use lemon, lime, and simple syrup instead – which generally tastes better anyway, according to guests.

Nothing wrong with the usual version, mind you.

Electric Lemonade (Sybarite’s)
· hurricane (or Collins or highball), ice
2 citrus vodka
½ blue Curaçao
1 simple syrup
1 lemon juice
½ lime juice
splash lemon-lime soda
– lemon slice
Shake all but soda and strain into ice-filled glass. Top with soda. Garnish.

Electric Lemonade (bartender)
· hurricane (or Collins or highball), ice
1½ citrus vodka
½ blue Curaçao
2 sweet & sour
splash lemon-lime soda
– lemon slice
Shake all but soda and strain into ice-filled glass. Top with soda. Garnish.

Electric Lemonade (highball)
· highball, ice
1½ citrus vodka
½ blue Curaçao
2 sweet & sour
fill lemon-lime soda
– lemon wedge & straw
Build.

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