The best drink to order at Café ArtScience isn’t listed on the menu. That doesn’t stop regulars from sidling up to the bar at the Cambridge (Mass.) restaurant and ordering the Scotch tasting flight. To make it, bartender Todd Maul produces a special carafe, into which he pours a few peaty whiskies. The device then transforms the liquor into diaphanous fog. When you sip the vapor through the vessel’s glass straw, it has the same taste and smell as regular Scotch but none of the calories, intoxication effects, or subsequent hangover. The wafting cloud—Scotch as it may be—has been denatured of its alcohol. A carafe that turns liquor and other beverages into inhalable vapor.
The carafe, dubbed Le Whaf, is one of the latest creations from David Edwards, a Harvard engineering professor whose work focuses on using air to improve health. In recent years he’s become obsessed with nutrition, creating things like inhalable chocolate and edible water bottles. He teaches only one semester-long class each year: How to Create Things and Have Them Matter, in which 20 students focus on producing “an innovation that in some clear way benefits the world.” With his Moses hair style and collection of floral-printed shirts, he rarely passes as an academic.
Café ArtScience is his first restaurant. It’s also a showroom for his inventions. As you enter the modernist space, which opened in October, fluorescent-lit shelves show off Les Whafs, on sale for $225. Next to them are pods of $7.99 dietary supplements that, when placed in aerosol canisters, administer puffs of melatonin or caffeine to the lungs. “I’m able to deliver nutrition without any of the side effects that are sometimes associated with drinking a Red Bull,” Edwards brags.