Moving Cocktail Garnishes Harness The Power of Surface Tension

If I owned a bar, I would put these in every drink.

It may be rude to play with your food (or drink), but two new cocktail garnishes make it hard not to. Scientists have now developed a boat that zips across the surface of drinks, as well as a "flower" that sops up a tiny, sip-sized dollop of the beverage for your palate-cleansing pleasure. Believe it or not, they are both powered entirely by magic.

Just kidding. Their secret lies in differences in surface tension, the cohesion between molecules that causes water to form droplets on glass, and which is disrupted by soap. Here's what's going on with the boat, as explained by Chemical & Engineering News:

The boat works by the Marangoni effect, which some insects use to propel themselves across water. When the “fuel,” a high-proof alcohol such as Bacardi 151, leaks out of a notch in the boat, the difference in surface tension between it and the cocktail spirits gives the boat enough zip to speed around for up to two minutes.

The design of the flower "pipette," on the other hand, was inspired by a type of floating flower. Its geometry is made to pick up fluids drop by drop, and surface tension prevents the liquid from escaping the "petals." Both were designed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology last fall, in collaboration with chefs at Jose Andres' ThinkFoodGroup, in Washington, D.C. They are still in development but will soon be available at restaurants owned by the company.