Tinkering with whey in cocktails was the first step that led Piper Kristensen to build a drink with burrata water. The beverage director at Brooklyn bistro Oxalis created the Breakfast Martini, citing the “great texture” that whey––the watery byproduct of making cheese or yogurt––can add to a drink, but she also calls out the liquid’s acidic nature. “That's when we thought of using [burrata] water.”
High in protein, with a delicate salinity, burrata water––the liquid in which some burrata producers store their creamy cheese––seemed like a potential win. It’s also an eco-friendly way to repurpose a byproduct from Oxalis’ summer menu that chef Nico Russell would otherwise have discarded.
When initially considering a recipe for his Breakfast Martini, Kristensen says, “I wanted the burrata water to be the dilution component.” As a test, Kristensen added it to a stirred cocktail in effort to boost the drink’s texture, and he says that the drink became milky and curdled in appearance, similar to the ouzo effect.
As an example, consider the opaque result of blending water with ouzo or absinthe. Rather than two clear liquids remaining transparent, when mixed together, they yield a cloudy elixir. “Technically, I don't think it's a traditional louche, or ouzo effect, but it looks the same,” he says.
Instead, Kristensen believes the mixture’s opaque appearance to be the result of alcohol denaturing the burrata water’s proteins. “The proteins that are distributed throughout the burrata water coagulate [when blended with booze], and the mixture gets milky,” he says. This makes it great for mediating the intersection of sweet and sour in cocktails.
Observing the cloudy blend, Kristensen realized that the resulting liquid acted in a similar manner to the way egg whites behave in a drink, adding body. And so he experimented with using the burrata water “as an egg white-style foaming agent,” he says.
An Aquafaba Alternate
The result is not entirely dissimilar to another newer and trendy cocktail frothing ingredient: chickpea brine, or aquafaba. When a bartender shakes a drink with aquafaba, the cocktail emerges with a thick foaming head, as if it were shaken with egg whites. And since chickpea brine is plant-based, it has become a popular ingredient at bars that cater to vegans.
And like aquafaba, Kristensen’s idea of shaking a cocktail with burrata water worked, yielding a beautiful white, frothy liquid. Kristensen then chose to fortify his Breakfast Martini with gomme syrup for extra structural support and viscosity. A splash of mandarin distillate, plus fresh lemon juice, rounds out the smooth, floral libation. For home bartenders who don’t have access to mandarin distillate––a high-proof spirit that is produced by a small distillery on Long Island, N.Y. called Matchbook Distilling Company––Kristensen suggests swapping in 2 ounces of Plymouth gin or another gin of the drink-maker’s choice.