Cambridge Food and Drink Festival – Cocktails

January 7, 2013

Eat Cambridge will be full of the unexpected.

So we introduce you to Aoife Maxwell, a chemist with a passion for fashioning tasty cocktails.  Find Aoife on twitter @aoifemaxwell and at Gastronomic Girls blog.


I work as a chemist and the subject has entranced me from early in my life. The colours, the beautiful clean lines of the glassware, the insight into the very fabric of the universe: chemistry still amazes me. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to be a 19th Century scientist with a delightfully civilized home laboratory. Sadly for me, the days when you could potter around in your basement and discover a new element or a fundamental reaction are long gone. In a strange way, cocktail making fulfils this longing in me and my scientific equipment adds to the feeling of a home laboratory. An afternoon spent mixing and tasting; balancing the sweet, sour, bitter and aromatic notes feels like important research rather than boozy indulgence.

My speciality is creating and using homemade infused spirits and syrups. Every time I make one it’s a new experiment, the fruit and herbs are always slightly different and I’m never sure exactly how it will turn out. I watch and wait as they mature and change colour; that crucial first taste triggering ideas and cocktail inspiration. For every successful new creation there are of course disasters (thinking of my sage vodka still gives me shivers). I began with sloe gin and have experimented with a myriad of infused spirits right down to Christmas pudding vodka (surprisingly good).

I’m very excited to be speaking at the Eat Cambridge event in the Guildhall on Saturday the 9th March. I’m really looking forward to sharing my “amateur scientist” approach to cocktail making and the alchemy of infused spirits. I will of course bring some of my most successful creations along for tasting.

Aoife Maxwell


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