A visit to The Squeaky Bean, located in the historic Saddlery Building in downtown Denver, isn’t complete without a conversation with Bar Manager Brian Smith, who has spent the last several months kitting the place out with tinctures, bitters, anisettes, orgeat syrups, and liqueurs. Because he likes the process as much as the ingredients, Smith also experiments with liquid nitrogen using a crockpot to mix and heat drinks.
The most popular cocktail he’s come up with is the “Tom Servo.” This Paloma slushie showcases Smith’s use of liquid nitrogen while paying homage to the campy, sci-fi television program Mystery Science 3000. “The Tom Servo cocktail came about when I worked out the method of liquid nitrogen preparation we use for that Mystery Science Theater category on our list,” says Smith.
All three of the Squeaky Bean’s frozen cocktails are named for characters from the show (Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and Gypsy) and pay tribute to Smith’s mother, who loves frozen cocktails. “When I started getting into cocktail culture, I was constantly trying to impress her, whether with a classic Daiquiri, Hurricane, or coin-style Margarita.”
When he came up with the liquid nitrogen method, he chose to create classics like the Daiquiri and Hurricane. “I turned her onto Palomas a couple of years ago when I managed the bars at Pinche Taqueria in Denver, and thus the Tom Servo was born – a fresh, balanced tequila cocktail that is literally frozen right before the guest’s eyes.”
- 2 oz Blanco Tequila (try Proximus)
- 1 oz Fresh Grapefruit
- .5 oz Fresh Lime
- .5 oz Agave Syrup
To prepare the cocktail glass, it must be tempered glass and come from a freezer or be chilled below 40 degrees or it will shatter once the liquid nitrogen settles. Rim the glass with salt – I prefer a half-moon for visual appeal – before filling with liquid nitrogen to the brim. While the liquid nitrogen is doing its thing, shake and strain the cocktail. Once the liquid nitrogen has boiled off, pour out any excess from the glass and pour the cocktail into the glass. Though the guest enjoys the cocktail as a liquid at first, it gradually freezes into a very velvety sorbet texture from the walls of the glass inward that can be scooped out with a spoon.