Monday, April 9, 2012

In the Lab with Todd Maul & Chris Cordeiro

A Vapo Conversation

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Todd Maul, bartender over at Clio restaurant in Back Bay.  Todd is one of the exceptional bartenders in Boston. His creative concoctions compliment the complexity of the dishes created by Clio’s executive chef and co-owner, Ken Oringer
How does Todd create these harmonious concoctions? In addition to having a keen sense and natural talent for creative mixing, Todd utilizes lab equipment that you might normally find in most chemistry labs across the Charles in Cambridge. Self taught, he uses a rotary evaporator, a large centrifuge, test tubes and liquid nitrogen to filter out the molecular components of a particular flavor he would like to add to a drink. I certainly learned a lot during the couple of hours I spent in the "lab"!

rotational evaporator
 The day I visited, Todd was using the rotary evaporator to extract some Gran Classico essence and to make a paint from the extracted flavors. I enjoyed observing the preparation, which involved pouring liquid nitrogen into a large column. The alcohol boils at a controlled temperature and the vapor collects, cools and drips into another flask. Different “notes” are collected at various boiling points. Todd keeps a close eye on the drip rate, which gives an indication. This is all done by eye and experience. Quite impressive. 

While all of this was going on, Chris Cordeiro, pastry chef extraordinaire, was hammering some butter in preparation for Kouign-amann. Chris and Todd collaborate and exchange ideas quite often, which adds to the creation of exceptional drinks and desserts at Clio! 

Much to my delight, I was able to sample a Kouign-amann while waiting for the Gran Classico to reach the right boiling point! It was delightfully buttery, crispy, and filled with layers of sweetness. With a little hazelnut gelato! A must try! 


It was also bread day and Chris had whipped up a couple of banana breads and a delicious fruit and nut bread that is served with Clio's cheese plate.  
The vibe is relaxed and enjoyable in the pastry kitchen. I could have easily hung out there all day talking shop and sampling!

Next, the Gran Classico paint was made and everything was brought up to the bar where further experimenting took place with the Gran Classico creations. 

Gran Classico Paint

Gran Classico paint lining the Vapo Conversation glass

Todd became very focused and started pulling various liquors from the liquor cabinet and the result was a new drink called A Vapo Conversation which consists of: 
½ oz. Bols
½ oz. lime
¾ orange clement
½ oz. Grand Classico
painted glass with clasico reduction
Drop of the Gran Classico essence... 
The amount of work that goes into the creation of one drink was truly eye opening. There are many other drinks on the menu that went through a similar process. 

This drink is made with smoky essence of a cinnamon stick! 

Dessert Menu 

Drop by Clio and enjoy a Vapo Conversation and a Kouign-amann! Todd is always enthusiastic about talking about his craft and has recently begun featuring a special drink every Monday. The week I was there he made a batch of his famous eggnog. I have to say that it was best I have ever had and quite a treat to enjoy out of season! Todd will be a guest speaker at a chemistry conference in June. You can find out more interesting tidbits about Todd and updates from Clio on Twitter and Facebook: @ItsToddMaul & @ClioBoston,
Todd Maul
Chris Cordeiro


  1. Yum! Can't wait to get myself to Clio to try some of their amazing concoctions! Thanks for taking us behind the scenes to take a peek at the pseudo-lab / all the hard work that goes into the sipping and noshing experience!


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