The Last Parsnip

A Truly Unbelievable Dining Experience from Chef Bryce Chartwell

The Lagrange Method

Unlike our food recipes, which routinely combine sixteen or more ingredients in a complex series of steps and counter-steps, our cocktails are usually more approachable. Often they have only a handful of ingredients, with two or three elements primarily responsible for the ultimate balance of the drink.

And balance is what it’s all about. I’m talking about a balance that can not only be measured in vitro with some of the most complex equipment known to mankind, but also a balance that can be sensed at a very human level on the taste buds of the tongue. For as much as I admire my time-of-flight mass spec and capillary electrophoresis equipment, no machine can yet match the delicate perceptibility of the human tongue.

We therefore approach all of our cocktail creations seeking out a balance, a harmony that goes beyond the ordinary. We call this The Lagrange Method – for it is one that seeks out a stable equilibrium of tastes at the middle of the muddling maelstrom. It is a balance that is always confirmed through both human and mechanical means. And it is a balance that, quite frankly, isn’t always achieved.

Indeed at The Last Parsnip we routinely abandon over 40% of the cocktails that we attempt to make. Sometimes the merest imperfection makes the balance point impossible – from, for example, a slightly chipped measuring glass or an asymmetric piece of citrus fruit. Of course we try to adjust, try to regain control. I will admonish the staff in the harshest of terms, more to teach them a lesson than to realistically save the drink. But I’ve found that once that moment is lost it is rarely regained.  

We try to be predictive in anticipating the balance point or points in any given cocktail. Sometimes these Lagrange Points, as we call them, can be easily discerned from a few minutes intense computation. Other recipes refuse to yield their secrets even after hours of cloud-based analysis. In these situations we resort, as always, to a more stochastic approach.

We do hope you’ll have a chance to sample some of our creations at one of our Last Parsnip restaurants.