This week, I attended the opening gala for Dave Arnold’s boundary-breaking MOFAD Lab, which opens its first brick-and-mortar home in Brooklyn on Wednesday, October 28 at noon. The event featured a sneak peek of an impressive scent-oriented exhibit called Flavor: Making It and Faking It, and a menu from guest chefs like Alex Raij and Mark Ladner. Impressively, Arnold bartended his own party so the cocktails also made an impact–one in particular.
Frothy, opaque and bubblegum pink, you might guess that Arnold’s Soft Cell would taste Pepto Bismol–y. But it was tangy, refreshing and just the slightest bit bitter on the finish. It was made with Absolut vodka, Campari (hence the bitterness), lemon acid orange (a mix of fresh orange juice, citric acid and malic acid), salt and, the key ingredient, milk simple syrup. Instead of sweetening his cocktail with classic simple syrup and then adding milk, which might dilute the cocktail too much, Arnold made a simple syrup with milk instead of water. To make his milk simple syrup, he mixes the sugar with cold milk, then adds a little citric acid to thicken it up and prevent it from getting granular (lemon juice works as well, just add about an ounce and a half per liter of milk). Shaken and strained into a liquid nitrogen–chilled coupe (don’t try it at home), the cocktail was everything you loved about an Orange Creamsicle, all grown-up and boozy.
Sadly, cocktails won't be part of the museum's everyday offerings. But there will be "Smell Synths," which pump out aromas, and tasting tablets, flavor pills that let guests compare things like naturally umami-packed mushroom with manmade umami (a.k.a. MSG).