Former Noma chefs have designed experimental new cocktails

Empirical makes cocktail liquors and canned alcoholic drinks that feature unusual ingredients like fermented plum pits and distilled marigold kombucha

Empirical Fuck Trump liquor made from habanero
This liquor from Empirical is made from chillis, barley koji, and Pilsner malt. Photography by Alex Chatwin.
(Image credit: Alex Chatwin)

Empirical is a Copenhagen-based purveyor of cocktail liquors and canned alcoholic drinks that wants to change your understanding of alcohol. 

A self-described ‘flavour company', Empirical disregards typical categorisations of alcohol – gin, tequila, whisky – instead taking a ‘flavour-first' approach to alcoholic cocktails that blends, ferments, distills and generally plays with liquors to create previously non-existent flavours. 

Empirical AYUUK liquor made with smoky Pasilla Mixe chilli

(Image credit: Alex Chatwin)

The brand's founders, Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen, met whilst working at Noma in Copenhagen and the philosophy of the famed eatery is clearly at work in Empirical. For Williams and Hermansen, that the only delineation between edible and inedible is deliciousness – anything is up for grabs.

‘This process is unequivocally difficult and frustrating sometimes,' says the brand. ‘Actually no... it's difficult all the time. We’ve custom-built machinery, developed hybrid fermentation techniques, augmented low-temperature distillation, and traveled to source the highest-quality ingredients globally.’ 

‘All this because of our maniacal approach to complete our vision. We’ve told ourselves, we’ll worry about making it pretty later. For now, it’s about writing a playbook, that doesn’t exist, one distillation, one spirit, and one flavor at a time.’ 

Empirical Helena double fermented clear koji spirit

(Image credit: Alex Chatwin)

The result is spirits like 'The Plum, I Suppose,' which is made from the kernel inside plum stones (spoiler: they taste like marzipan) and distilled marigold kombucha. 

The canned drinks blend equally unexpected flavours, like Can 01 which features acidic gooseberry, flowery oolong tea, and toasted birch. We recommend packing them in your picnic basket for an added edge to your day in the park.


Writer and Wallpaper* Contributing Editor

Mary Cleary is a writer based in London and New York. Previously beauty & grooming editor at Wallpaper*, she is now a contributing editor, alongside writing for various publications on all aspects of culture.