These gadgets will help bring the sparkle. At left is the Perlini, at right is the SodaStream.
I sometimes wonder about the reaction of the first human to drink sparkling spring water; it probably would've been hilarious to watch. We modern people have been drinking and loving the bubbles ever since. One side effect to using club soda in a cocktail is that it waters the drink down (sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing). Today, bartenders are fixing that by carbonating finished cocktails. The drinks retain their proof, and the bubbles serve to tantalize your tongue and also, perhaps, to speed up the absorption rate of the alcohol. (Whether it's true or not, Bobby Stinson, guitarist for local legendary rock band The Replacements, once told me, "If you wanted to get f%#$ed up fast, drink something hot or with bubbles." I figure he knew what he was talking about.)
Two carbonic products currently being used by bartenders and home enthusiasts are the SodaStream and Perlini machines. The SodaStream makes an entire 750-millileter batch at once—and although the instructions say you're just supposed to carbonate plain water and then add your flavor syrup, I've been carbonating finished cocktails for years and have yet to have a bottle explode on me. The Perlini system allows you to carbonate smaller amounts, as little as two cocktails at a time, which might make it more attractive to the home mixologist. If you like to create original cocktails at home, these machines are creeping into the "must have" category. Get sparkling and have fun!
Johnny Michaels is the author of North Star Cocktails and a master mixologist at La Belle Vie and Icehouse.