When: Saturday, 18 August 2012
Where: The Collectors Café, Queensland Museum
Organised by: Inspire Australia as part of National Science Week

While the drinks were served in test tubes, the only lab coats around Café Scientifique were ironic. Scientists certainly know how to put on an event.

Café Scientifique is a concept that sees scientists of all disciplines gather over a coffee (or a cocktail!) to explore the latest thinking in science and technology outside of an academic context. Queensland’s Chief Scientist, Dr Geoff Garrett, was on hand to open Brisbane’s first Café Scientique at Queensland Museum, and to celebrate the ‘closing ceremony’ of National Science Week.

I am by no means a scientist, so I took comfort in the fact that cocktail demonstrations held centre stage at this event. The evening’s liquid delights were designed and prepared by self-described mixologist (and molecular and microbiologist), Andrew Cameron. I’d first met Andrew when he prepared liquid nitrogen sorbets for a Science Fair we were running, and I was keen to sample more of his creations.

First on the menu was Death In The Afternoon, described as a fusion of absinthe, effervescence and Hemingway. Andrew gave us a brief snapshot into the history of absinthe, hinted at how author Hemingway was connected (as alluded to in the name of the cocktail) and then let us sample the subject. Unfortunately, he forgot to mention to the waitstaff that the absinthe samples needed to be topped up with champagne. Everyone in my group shot straight absinthe with a dash of sugar syrup. Ah well, we were all ready to start chatting after that.

When the second cocktail for the evening, Stirred Not Shaken, was presented, I have to admit I was somewhat distracted. By now I had managed to meet two of Griffith University’s faculty staff and was deeply engrossed in a passionate discussion about 3D printing and the possibilities presented by community fabrication labs.

It is at this point in the recap that I wish to implore you – do not be scared by science!! The discussions that I had at this event were as good, if not better than discussions I would have at any other business or creative event on the calendar. I truly believe that anyone in Brisbane’s vibrant and creative professional community could have walked into Café Scientifique on Saturday night and found at least one person from the science community that they could collaborate with, do business with or at the very least have a passionate discussion with.

In between discussions I managed to catch the canapé tray on a couple of its rounds and sampled suitably sciency (yes, that’s a word…) morsels like juniper soused air dried venison with fried carrot chips. Delicious. The evening ended with a breakfast martini, topped with marmalade, that was enhanced by the aromas of infused liquid poured over dry ice and passed around in conical flasks (very Alice in Wonderland!).

So, summing up, what did you miss? The chance to examine life from another point of view, connect with some talented potential collaborators and gather a few fancy facts to whip out at your next dinner party about the science of cocktails.

Cafe Scientifique will be happening again, but dates are yet to be announced.