Your First Look at Clio's Fancy New Rotovap


Last week, we told you about Todd Maul’s decision to debut fun blender drinks at the bar at Clio. Turns out, this wasn’t the only thing up his sleeve — yesterday, Maul ordered a Rotovap, which is a high-tech device commonly used in the local biotech sector to distill liquids. Rotovaps are also used in molecular cooking, with fans like Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago and Wylie Dufresne of wd~50 in New York.

It’s only the latest piece of equipment that Maul’s collected; he also uses a centrifuge for clarifying liquids like lemon juice, a massive sugarcane extractor, a mini grill and fire-in-a-can to craft the drinks in his 32-page cocktail menu. The Rotovap “allows me literally to distill and deconstruct anything I want,” Maul says.

I stopped by Clio yesterday afternoon when the machine — the first to be used in a Boston restaurant — was delivered for a test run, and watched Maul attempt to create a vodka infused with gin aromatics. Here’s a step-by-step recap of the vodka-to-gin test run:

1. Maul infused bottom-shelf vodka with aromatics found in gin: juniper berries, grains of paradise, coriander, and angelica root.

2. The mixture is funneled into a beaker.

3. The beaker is screwed into the right side of the Rotovap, and heated in a water bath. The heated liquid evaporates into the cylinder on the left, which contains ice, where it cools, condenses, and drips into the orb-shaped beaker below.

4. After several minutes, the lower beaker collected a clear, super-concentrated version of the vodka-aromatics mixture.

5. The finished product tastes like gin, but it’s actually vodka! Maul plans to create a progressive drink with this substance, where guests first drop in a frozen lemon chip to give the drink a lemon-gin flavor, and next drop in a frozen Luxardo maraschino chip, so that the finished product tastes exactly like an Aviation cocktail — sans gin.

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