In the Name of Science {Recipe – Tequila Spherification Bubbles}

After recently experiencing Taiwanese Bubble Tea, I’ve become quite interested in using different textures to create an unusual take on the dish or drink. 

Spherification is the process of shaping liquid into pearls, the most common method of doing this a liquid is mixed with sodium alginate and dropped into a cold solution of calcium chloride or calcium carbonate. This process sets the outside of the liquid causing a soft shell whilst keeping the centre liquid.  Sounds simple right and not scary at all ??? Well, it is! For many years restaurants such as El Buli and The Fat Duck has used them on their menus. More recently cocktail bars have been making flavoured pearls add contrasting textures to their drinks, such as peach pearls in champagne for a new take on bellinis. 

Before you all run to the hills thinking I have lost my mind and this is the furthest thing away from food and home cooking, let me explain a bit about the ingredients used and why.  Here comes the science bit….

Sodium alginate is extracted from seaweed and is widely used in the food industry as a thickener for drinks and ice creams. And comes tasteless so doesn’t affect the liquid you which to make into pearls.  

Calcium Chloride is commonly used as a firming agent in food, commonly for tofu and canned vegetables. This will help us to create a shell which will withstand light handling without setting the whole liquid drop. I bought a relatively cheap kit from Cream Supplies to get the feel for it and they will look to get more bits of kit from them. (Also super crazy fast delivery!)  
So when faced with the question, what liquid do I want to create pearls with, there’s only one answer. TEQUILA! That’s right, tequila! Whoop! Whoop! As mentioned in my Easter post, I and my brother love tequila. In fact, it’s become one of our favourite spirits to have a long drink- honestly, try it with ginger beer, lemonade and even pineapple juice. Yum!
We had a lovely family bbq this weekend around the FoodNerd rentals and instead of having a nice bottle of red wine with dinner, my bro and I decided a jug of margaritas was the way to go. So I had to hand the ingredients and the taste for margaritas was in my system, just short of a few limes so used a combination of limes and lemons. So here’s my very geeky deconstructed Margarita’s that I made with my brother and Flounce.
FoodNerd Family BBQ

Small steaks and margaritas all around

Margaritas with Tequila Pearls

Tequila Bubble Ingredients

All the bits and bobs

Tequila Bubble Ingredients

All mixed in

Tequila Bubbles Setting

Setting the outside

Tequila Bubbles

Pearl Mountain

Tequila Bubbles

Our First Pearl

Tequila Bubbles

Tequila Pearls

Mini Margaritas with Tequila Bubbles

Mini Margaritas

Tequila Spherification Bubbles Recipe

Now it takes some practice to make the pearls and some patience but when it works the results are brilliant. Also, I went for golden tequila, which when mixed with the alginate and pipetted, didn’t really show up so I added a touch of natural colourings to make them easier to see. Be patient! Allow the pearls to form in the calcium carbonate for the full 2 mins before rinsing the pearls in the water. I wasn’t the most patient at the beginning, giving us tequila worms- not a bad thing but not pearls! Although the leaflet that came with the kit said you could use vodka to make the pearls. I think the tequila might have been a touch too strong so might make them with lime cordial next time and suspend them in the tequila and triple sec.
Prep Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Drinks, Magaritas, Tequila
Servings: 4 People


  • 3 Limes juiced
  • salt or sugar for the rim
  • 2 Shots Triple Sec
  • 100 ml Tequila
  • 2 g Sodium Alginate
  • 6 g Calcium Carbonate
  • 300 ml Bottled Water


  • In a tall jug measure out the tequila and using a stick blend mix in the sodium alginate, until there are no lumps and set aside.
  • In an another bowl pour 100ml of the bottled water and stir in the calcium carbonate until the liquid is clear again. Set up a third bowl and pour in the remaining bottled water, this is to rinse off the pearls, then next to that bowl, a pile of kitchen towel to drain the pearls. So you should have a nice production line now.
  • Using a pipette that came with my kit, pull up some of the tequila mixture and drop little drops in to the bowl with the calcium carbonate. Leave to set for 1-2 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon gently remove the pearls and place into the water bowl, then drain on to the towel. Repeat this process until you have a mountain of lovely pearls. After half an hour the pearls will set solid and lose their liquid middles. But they are heat stable so you can bake with them in muffins or cakes like you would with raisins.
  • So to make the deconstructed margaritas, I sugar rimmed a shot glass (as we were getting a bit merry at this stage) spooned in some of the tequila pearls, then added 2 parts lime juice to 1 part triple sec. Next I want to make Cosmos with cranberry juice pearls in vodka and orange juice. I really was simple and think would look stunning in a champagne flute. Enjoy!
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  1. Stormplum
    31 August, 2012 / 10:57 am


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