The biscuits have been created for Tapas: Spanish Design for Food, an exhibition of Spanish cuisine on display at the Spanish embassy in Tokyo. A set of five spiced biscuits, each Embedded Drinks biscuit is designed to be soaked in one of five alcohols – mezcal, red wine, vodka, gin and whiskey. When paired with its particular liquor, the biscuit heightens the alcohol's flavour notes, enhancing the tasting experience.
"I had this idea long ago to make a system in which instead of drinking drinks, you eat drinks," says Guixé, a Catalonian designer who rose to prominence in the 1990s for his work with food design. "I don't mean making a pie or something where you just pour whiskey over the top. I wanted to make a technical biscuit that lets you taste liquors in a very technical way. The biscuits are designed to let you evaluate the alcohol more easily."
The biscuits, which are represented in the exhibition by 3D printed models, achieve various levels of sophistication. The whiskey biscuit is a puck pitted with holes of varying diameters, such that different sections of the biscuit retain different amounts of whiskey. By adding the liquor to the biscuit, the drink's flavour is enhanced by the oxygenation that occurs during pouring – similar to how wine tasters swirl their glass before tasting.
Other biscuits are styled as more simplistic geometrical shapes, yet would improve the tasting experience through spicing introduced during the baking process. "The basis of vodka is more easily tasted if you add pepper for instance," says Guixé, who developed the concept in collaboration with chemists working within the food industry.
Guixé's project draws inspiration from Catalonian tradition – "There was a practice of putting wine and sugar on bread for the children. That sounds a bit strange – wine with bread? – but it used to be quite common" – but it is also typical of his previous work, much of which has challenged the way in which we consume.
Techno Tapas, a project from 1997, was a system of bite-sized food orbs designed to fit in with modern lifestyles that no longer prioritise sitting down for set meals. Similarly, his 2011 Carob Blocks, furniture-like slabs of chocolate substitute, could be grazed on throughout the day to provide energy without the need for a cooked meal.
Yet Guixé avoids taking his food projects beyond the proof of concept stage. "A decision I took 15 years ago because I'm not a chef and have no idea about cooking," he says. "They’re ideas that need the right context and person to realise them for the market."
Examples of Guixé's design have however been realised. An idea to serve schnapps shots within hollowed out apples was realised this year after the Stählemühle distillery in Germany commissioned him to create his AST Apple Schnapps Tool, a simple punch that converts apples into edible containers.
"It can take 15 years for a concept to become real, but I have the time," says Guixé. "Thirteen years ago the design and food industries were much more primitive than they are now. Now, things are much more appropriate for the execution of these concepts. But I need partners to do that with me. It’s like if you write a script for a film: you need to find people to put the money in, you need a director, you need a producer. These things take time."
For the present it would seem that Guixé is happy for his Embedded Drinks to remain a disembodied concept.