Recently, in a storefront laboratory in Chinatown, Piper Kristensen, a bartender and occasional lab assistant who works for the avant-garde bar Booker and Dax in the East Village, studied a SodaStream Penguin. It had arrived fitted with a new feature, a device that was preventing him from carbonating the clear tomato juice he had purified in a centrifuge. He probed the carbonator’s dispensing valve, figured out that its plastic collar had to be raised, and twisted on a rubber band. In short order, he poured a fizzy cocktail of tomato juice, vodka and sugar into elegant cordial glasses.
He handed one to his boss, Dave Arnold, formerly the director of culinary technology at the International Culinary Center as well as an owner of Booker and Dax. Mr. Arnold sipped. “It tastes like ketchup soda,” he said. “Maybe you should go back to the egg cream.”