As the weather grows warmer, it seems appropriate to be delving into the world of savory drinks. Some cocktails are smooth to the point of hardly registering as they're consumed; others linger, their combination of flavors demanding a complex response. Warren Bobrow, the author of several cocktail books (including the just-released Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails), finds a primal appeal in savory cocktails. "Savory stimulates the appetite, sweet quells it," he said when asked about them.
His own writings on drinks have involved explorations of esoteric and historical techniques, bringing them back into the spotlight. Several of the drinks featured in his earlier Apothecary Cocktails also venture into savory territory, summoning up memories of drinks designed for a heartier time. Beverage consultant Willy Shine has also noted the appeal of "the experience of tasting salty, spicy, or even tangy in a cocktail," which has led him to combine flavors in unexpected ways in the drink recipes that he has created.
Savory cocktails can take other forms as well, some of them making the "savory" part of the equation memorably literal. The Los Angeles restaurant Pistola has been experimenting with cocktails made with bone broth, according to this Eater report, which cites a drink made with a blend of Scotch and lamb consommé. And the resurgence of cocktails made with beer as an ingredient can also fall into this category, with the beer bolstering the spirits, adding a heartiness to the overall drink that whiskey, gin, or vodka might not provide on their own.
When making savory drinks at home, Bobrow has a few suggestions for ingredients. "I look to products like Barr Hill Gin (distilled from Raw Honey and Grain) or Barrell Whiskey (aged in used whiskey casks for a richer, more savory flavor ) or my favorite- Stroh Rum, rolling in at 160 Proof, just lovely with spicy ginger beer syrup from Pickett's." The presence of rich flavors can accentuate the taste of the cocktails, and quench thirsts as we march toward summer.
Jamaican Jerk Sangrita
"I worked off the flavors of the rum, Jamaica, and jerk cooking to create a unified unique flavor experience," Willy Shine recalled when asked about the development of this recipe. With Sangrita, a beverage that traditionally accompanies consumption of tequila, as a starting point, Shine created a variation that serves an equivalent purpose to rum. The use of Scotch Bonnet peppers—which add a lot of heat in a very particular register—makes for one more distinctive touch in this recipe.
- 20 oz fresh-pressed pineapple juice
- 4 oz fresh-pressed orange juice
- 2 oz POM Wonderful
- 1/2 oz fresh-pressed ginger juice
- 1 oz agave nectar
- 3/4 oz Walkerwood Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce®
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 8 mint sprig leaves
- Appleton Estate V/X
- Juice pineapple and ginger then combine all ingredients in a blender and blend to combine.
- Pour into container and refrigerate for two hours before serving. One batch of this recipe will give you 27 oz of Jamaican Jerk Sangrita.
- Pour 1.5 oz shot of Appleton Estate V/X and a 1.5 oz shot of chilled Jamaican Jerk Sangrita.
- Express the oils of an orange peel over both and dust the top of the Sangrita with fresh nutmeg.
- Explain to your guest to shoot the rum then the sangrita.
Tip: The fresher your ingredients, the better the final product. Juice the pineapple and ginger fresh through an extractor. Make sure the mint is fresh and smells like spearmint and also make sure not to use the stems, as they are bitter.
Ginger-Lime Shrubb with Rhum Agricole and Salty Lemonade from Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails by Warren Bobrow (Fair Winds, 2015).
In recent years, shrubs—in which fruit and vinegar flavors are combined—have experienced a resurgence in popularity, both on their own and as elements of cocktails. And the right combinations of flavors can venture into unexpected places. As Warren Bobrow noted about this recipe, "Ginger and lime together are savory, not sweet." Balancing the complex taste of the shrub with Rhum Agricole (a kind of rum made from cane juice rather than molasses) adds to the unpredictability of this drink.
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Ginger-Lime Shrub
- 2 oz (60 ml) 100-proof Rhum Agricole Blanc
- 3 oz (90 ml) freshly made lemonade sweetened lightly… with a touch of raw honey or simple syrup
- 1⁄2 oz (15 ml) seltzer water
- 1 pinch fleur de sel
- 2–3 drops lime bitters
- Hand-cut ice spear
- Add the Ginger-Lime Shrub to an old fashioned glass.
- Then add the ice spear.
- Top with the Rhum Agricole Blanc, the lemonade, and a splash of seltzer water.
- Sprinkle a pinch of fleur de sel into the drink, and finish with a couple drops of lime bitters.
- Peeled zest of 4 well-washed limes (discard the pith: it’s very bitter)
- 4 limes (reserve the ones from the zest), quartered
- 1 cup (200 g) Demerara sugar
- 6 tablespoons (48 g) freshly grated ginger root
- 1–2 cups (235–475 ml) apple cider vinegar (depending on the height of the ingredients when placed in a bowl)
Time: 3–4 weeks
- In a nonreactive bowl, combine the lime peels, lime chunks, sugar, and the ginger.
- Stir to combine and coat all the fruit with sugar. Cover and leave at room temperature at least overnight or for 1–2 days. (Slow, cool fermentation gives a shrub its trademark bite.)
- Now prepare your shrub for aging. Set a strainer over another nonreactive bowl and pour the lime and ginger into the strainer. Use a stout wooden spoon to extract as much juice as possible from the limes and the softened ginger.
- Let the mixture sit for a few more hours. Stir again, and discard the fruit chunks. Stir in the vinegar, and then use a funnel to transfer the shrub syrup to a sterilized bottle. Seal, and then shake well to combine.
- Store the bottles in the refrigerator or at cellar temperature for 3–4 weeks before using.
- Shake each bottle once or twice daily to help the sugar dissolve. When it’s mostly dissolved, your shrub is ready to use.
Makes 1 1⁄2 cups
Citronnade (From Erik Niel, Easy Bistro & Bar, Chattanooga, TN)
If you’re looking for a complex array of flavors in your savory drink, the elements that make up the Citronnade should do nicely. The base spirit here is brandy, but the beer that plays a significant role is noted for its floral hops; the result is a particularly pastoral drink.
- 1.5 oz Germain-Robin Craft Method Brandy
- .5 oz Apricot Liqueur
- .25 oz simple syrup
- .75 oz lemon juice
- 2 dashes Bitterman's Burlesque Bitters
- Shake all ingredients together and strain over new ice, then top with pale ale.