How Bartenders Play With Fermentation in Their Drinks

You’re sitting at your desk, focused, and determined to finish getting through the rest of the workday. But, your mind can’t help but wander off every now and again, dreaming about those refreshing after work drinks.

Yes, those hard-earned drinks that provide you with the sweet, sweet, escape that you so desperately long for. But, what to drink? Sure, there is beer — a classic choice — and wine are always oh-so-satisfying, but you are someone who craves a change. Something new! Something exciting! And something that will have your friends, and co-workers, rightfully naming you the King (or Queen) of cocktail choices!

So, Let’s Talk About Microbe-based Cocktails.

These cocktails have been around for awhile, but are just recently starting to pick up steam here in the U.S. Their sudden rise in popularity can be linked to the Kombucha craze. For those of you unfamiliar with Kombucha, it is a drink often referred to as the Immortal Health Elixir. It’s made from a variety of fermented black or green teas that are enjoyed as a beverage for its health benefits.

What is Fermentation?

“Fermentation is a metabolic process in which an organism converts a carbohydrate, such as starch or a sugar, into an alcohol or an acid. For example, yeast performs fermentation to obtain energy by converting sugar into alcohol. Bacteria perform fermentation, converting carbohydrates into lactic acid.” (About Education)

While none of these claims have been scientifically proven, Kombucha’s long history of being used as a popular healthy alternative for those that prefer natural medicine has a lot of people drinking up this alleged miracle beverage. This experimentation with fermentation and tea peaked the interest of mixologists and bartenders alike who began playing around with different drink preparations and noticed the pleasing effect a little bit of science had on mixed drinks. These fermented cocktails are creating new tastes, flavors, and an all-around new and exciting experience for the modern drinker.

But, before word of these cocktails made their way to the U.S., London mixologists were crafting up some pretty interesting cocktails using this microbe infused process. Take for instance, Ryan Chetiyawardana of White Lyan in London, who has created drinks like “the vodka-based Bone Dry Martini, made with an actual bone tincture of roast chicken bones dissolved in phosphoric acid the Moby Dick Sazerac, which employs ambergris (a sperm whale excretion highly valued by perfumers) to lift and elevate aromas just as it does in a bottled fragrance.” (Punch Drink)

So, how do microbes play a part in your drink consumption? Well, for those of you who may have forgotten what microbes are, they are single-cell organisms that include bacteria, archaea, fungi, and protists. Sounds pretty science-y, right? Interesting sure, but who would want to drink these things? Well, turns out, you most likely already have. Carbonated beverages that contain citric acid are microbial products. And beer contains yeast which is a microorganism of the fungus kingdom. When used correctly, these living organisms can give your cocktail a wonderful complexity in its flavor.

For those brave enough to try one of these off the wall cocktails, check out this delicious recipe below, which incorporates Kombucha.

Moonshine Cocktail

Drink recipe provided by “Kombucha Revolution” by Stephen Lee


  • 2 inches of peeled fresh ginger
  • Chopped ice
  • 1 Tbsp (1/2 ounce) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp (1/2 ounce) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp (3 ounces) plain kombucha
  • 6 Tbsp (3 ounces) vodka
  • 5 dashes bitters
  • 1 lemon peel twist, to garnish


  1. Muddle ginger in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Fill the shaker halfway with ice.
  3. Add the lime juice, lemon juice, kombucha, vodka, and bitters.
  4. Shake well.
  5. Pour the strained liquor into a chilled martini glass.
  6. Garnish with lemon (optional).

Have a favorite spot where you’ve tried a microbe infused cocktail? We’d love to hear about it! Send us your stories to

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