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Anybody with a mason jar, booze, and time can make an infusion. But Bar Dupont Beverage Director Jon Yeronick has found a way to deliver infused cocktails without taking up counter space or time: sous vide.
The technique, in which food is cooked in a temperature-controlled water bath using vacuum-sealed bags, is nothing new in restaurant kitchens. But as sous vide has become more mainstream with smaller and cheaper equipment on the market, others in the food and beverage world have started adapting it to their needs.
Yeronick started thinking about using sous vide behind the bar when he was working at POV at the W Hotel. The drinks team was working on a fall punch made with lots of fruit and spices that took a week to come together. He suggested vacuum packing to expedite the process to a few hours, and though they didn’t go that route, he didn’t forget the idea.
A Virginia boy who graduated from Centreville High School in Clifton, Yeronick was already familiar with the power of sous vide. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and has worked in both the back and front of the house at restaurants like Le Diplomate and BlackSalt.
That culinary background is evident in his experiments, which include infusing all the components of a cocktail together or just some of the ingredients. In Bar Dupont’s kitchen, he has stacks of bags in Cambro containers labeled with amounts of bay leaf, coriander, juniper, and star anise, and time spent in the sous vide immersion circulator. A set of infusions with fig and blanco tequila are stained a range of reds. Yeronick discovered he could extract robust flavor from dried figs, which became helpful when the fruit was scarce this fall. An added bonus: Heat speeds the infusion time to three hours instead of three days.
“This is the closest I get to chemistry,” Yeronick says.
Yeronick is still grappling with issues like presentation (“you certainly lose something when you pour a cocktail from a bag”) and playing with flavor combinations. His goal is to find the perfect mix of ingredients and replicate the recipe, then repeat. He researches and experiments when the Café Dupont kitchen doesn’t need the equipment and when he’s not juggling the Dupont Circle Hotel’s busy events schedule.
He expects to release an all sous vide cocktail menu this spring. In the meantime, he continues to play with infusions using rosemary, hot peppers, vanilla… and popcorn with Coke? Wait and see, or follow his experiments on Instagram @captjmy.
Photos by Jessica Strelitz