How the secret ingredient in the latest cocktails has nothing to do with flavor.

For a generation that scarcely remembers the age of cell phones before smartphones (not to mention life before email), it’s no surprise that the omnipresence of technology has extended all the way to the cocktail hour—and not just to texting during drinks but to the drinks themselves.

Like many culinary trends that begin in the kitchen and then move to the bar, molecular mixology, as the movement is called, grew out of molecular gastronomy—the practice of applying principles of chemistry and physics to cooking. The always-experimental chef Ferran Adria of Spain’s cutting-edge El Bulli restaurant (a wildly popular but money-losing venture that closed last year) pioneered techniques such as the transformation of liquid foods into solids using liquid nitrogen; by the mid-2000s he was inspiring chefs the world over.

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