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Savory Cocktail


detlefchef
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I was thinking the other day about how nearly every cocktail was either sweet or at least fruit based. Of course the Bloody Mary is an obvious exception as is (to a lesser degree) the dry Martini and (to the same degree) its hideously foetid cousin the dirty martini.

Aside from that, there just aren't many. I posed this to some serious cocktail drinkers I knew and nobody could come up with much. Certainly they were able to name plenty that aren't tooty fruity, but I wouldn't qualify them as savory.

The interesting thing is, the two I mentioned above aren't by any means odd-ball drinks. I mean, they're pretty much major players

Thoughts?

I suppose what I'm actually looking for here is discussion on why there are so few as much as I am curious to hear other savory drinks.

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I did a Saffron-Vanilla Martini for Amada but folks didn't "get" it or buy it so we took it off the drink menu. Bums me out because it was fairly tasty, but I think the reaction was somewhat predictable. It's just too bizarre for some people to wrap their head around.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Can I cheat and use Bloody Mary variants, like the Caesar and the Mad Bull?

Hmm... Beer buster? (Vodka, tobasco sauce, beer) Or Bulldozer (vodka rocks highball with beef bouillon)

And, of course, vodka-tonic, gin-and-tonic, gibson...

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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I wouldn't qualify <blank> and tonic as savory. Tonic, while not being as sweet a juice, is certainly more on that side of the scale than it is on the savory side. Beyond that, the lime is a rather significant element of the drink.

Also, having had more than one vanilla saffron based desserts, that martini doesn't strike me as all-together savory either.

Picture spring water in the middle. To far left, we have, say a Meyers and Pineapple, to the far right, a bloody mary. The tonics and vanilla/saffron marti may be rather close to the middle, but I still think they're on the left side of scale. As are, for that matter, both beer, wine, and nearly every other beverage we drink. Outside of brothy soups, there just aren't a whole lot of salty things people enjoy drinking. But those that they do enjoy, they tend to enjoy a lot. Which begs the question why there aren't more.

Is it simply a matter that salty beverages are, for the most part, unappealing and that the few that we enjoy just happen to be good enough to rise above? On the other hand, who doesn't enjoy drinking the last of their bowl of Pho? Couldn't you spike that and make a cocktail of it?

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How about the Bullshot http://www.hotwired.com/cocktail/97/12/index4a.html

and the Mauri http://www.hotwired.com/cocktail/97/39/index3a.html

Neither are sugary, and lime juice is certainly a savory ingredient in the absence of sugar.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I second "bloody bull" or "bullshot" as well. I'm a big fan of red beer (generic light-ish beer with a couple of ounces of tomato, v-8, snappy tom or bloody mary mix). Also salty dogs or greyhounds are favorites. And yet-another reason to love late summer - the Tomatini.

But you're right...there aren't enough savories. Experimentation is needed. I've not tried it but I would imagine vodka (or gin, or aquavit) would be good with carrot juice or some variation thereof (carrot-beet-celery being a favorite).

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Does savory necessarily mean salty?

Aromatic cocktails like the Manhattan or Bronx are not really "sweet", at least made traditionally.

I think there is great room for invention of "culinary" cocktails using ingredients more commonly found in the kitchen than the bar.

I haven't been to this restaurant yet; but, their cocktail list, while sadly a bit Vodka focused, looks pretty cool and inspirational.

Aziza

And, yeah, I happen to think Aquavit is great in "savory" cocktails.

-Erik

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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yeah... what do you mean by "savory?" just not sweet? there are a lot of cocktails which i wouldn't consider sweet. a negroni has sweet vermouth, primarily to balance the campari, but i would never say it is sweet. it's bitter. and what about sour cocktails? are they savory?

now if you mean salty and "meaty," i think there aren't many because we don't percieve, say, steak as refreshing. we don't look to create a drink that makes us think, "mmm, meaty," but it could be done.

i just descovered Islay scotches. they're super smokey and a bit salty. i would never describe them as sweet, but i'm not sure i'd call them savory. but is this what you mean? although expensive, they could be used to make spectacular cocktails! (isn't this the ingrediant that gives audrey's dreamy dorini smoking martini part of it's name?)

lastly, i've found that most good bartenders really are aiming at balance in cocktails. one type of flavor can be dominant, but it needs many flavors to be good. sort of like the thai food philosophy of salty, spicy, sour, sweet. lets get all those flavors in there, not just salty.

you just called the dirty martini "hideous" and you want us to come up with more salty drinks?

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Does savory necessarily mean salty?

Aromatic cocktails like the Manhattan or Bronx are not really "sweet", at least made traditionally.

I think there is great room for invention of "culinary" cocktails using ingredients more commonly found in the kitchen than the bar.

I haven't been to this restaurant yet; but, their cocktail list, while sadly a bit Vodka focused, looks pretty cool and inspirational.

Aziza

And, yeah, I happen to think Aquavit is great in "savory" cocktails.

-Erik

Well, salt is certainly an important element. In fact, I think one could go so far as to say that every savory dish has salt in it. When my wife asks if we should have pancakes for breakfast, I might answer, "No, I'd prefer something savory like eggs and sausage."

Herbacious tones, vegetable flavors, seafood, meats, and, of course, salt are flavors that I would associate with savory. I'd also throw vinegar based acidity but not fruit based acidity in there as well.

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Well, salt is certainly an important element.  In fact, I think one could go so far as to say that every savory dish has salt in it. 

yeah, and most sweet dishes, too... ice cream can't cut it without salt. ever had melon with salt and pepper? mmmm....

herbacious, eh? how about a B&B? classic and i wouldn't describe it as sweet (maybe medicinal, but i love them).

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Well, salt is certainly an important element.  In fact, I think one could go so far as to say that every savory dish has salt in it.  When my wife asks if we should have pancakes for breakfast, I might answer, "No, I'd prefer something savory like eggs and sausage."

But, then I'd have to worry about my salt intake along with my alcohol intake when drinking cocktails!

For me, the reason dirty martinis are disgusting, is they usually dump the contents of the bar top olive tray in them. Who knows what might be living or included in that stuff! Yuck!

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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My regular bartender makes something he calls the Pickle-tini. Basically vodka, kosher dill pickle brine, garnished with a slice of kosher dill. Surprisingly un-nasty, but not my cup of tea.

A friend and I make a "thai-tini," with cilantro and fresh ginger muddled on ice, gin, lime juice, shaken, strained, garnished with lime wedge. Not sure if it counts as savory, but it's delicious.

The ButterChurn (www.cavebutter.com/wp) -- One dude's venture into the magical world of baking, dude.
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These last two sound intriguing. I'm off to the lab right now to investigate further. TGIF (the expression, not the chain).

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Does beer with peanuts in it count? What about oyster vodka shots? (love those.)

I like savory vodka infusions like cucumber and cilantro, wasabi, etc. I don't usually mix them with much, though. Some new ideas would be nice.

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What about oyster vodka shots? (love those.)

Totally forgot about those...A.W. Shucks in Carmel...wish I were there right now!

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Well, salt is certainly an important element.  In fact, I think one could go so far as to say that every savory dish has salt in it. 

yeah, and most sweet dishes, too... ice cream can't cut it without salt.

The thing is, with ice cream, you're making a quart at a time with a pinch of salt.

With "up" cocktails, you're usually making a 4 to 6 ounce portion at a time.

It would be OK, if like simple syrup, you had some standard bottle behind the bar. Sadly, there is no bottle of, what? sea water? for your bartender to put in cocktails.

Just pointing out stuff.

edit - thought of better example.

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Having put nearly everything in a martini as garnish at some point (olives of all sorts, stuffed with many things, caper berries, tomolives, pickled okra, asparagus, green beans, cucumber slice) I was surprised I had not used an actual pickle. So last night I had a KetelOne with maybe 2-3 drops (not dirty) of the brine/juice, and a tiny pickle as garnish and it was quite nice. We get a case of the world's best (no, really) pickles from a little old lady in the middle of KS every year, so that helped elevate the combination. Thanks for the suggestion!

I also like the idea of having seawater behind the bar...like the savory equivalent of simple syrup.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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One potential reason that there aren't more cocktails covering "meaty" or "umami" savory elements is that that area has historically been covered with wine. It just might be that people with a greater tendency to be drawn to that element tend to be wine drinkers, especially red wine drinkers.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  So last night I had a KetelOne with maybe 2-3 drops (not dirty) of the brine/juice, and a tiny pickle as garnish and it was quite nice.  We get a case of the world's best (no, really) pickles from a little old lady in the middle of KS every year, so that helped elevate the combination.  Thanks for the suggestion!

Quite welcome! Glad I could help spread the word. The ones my bartender makes *really* taste like pickle.

The ButterChurn (www.cavebutter.com/wp) -- One dude's venture into the magical world of baking, dude.
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One potential reason that there aren't more cocktails covering "meaty" or "umami"  savory elements is that that area has historically been covered with wine. It just might be that people with a greater tendency to be drawn to that element tend to be wine drinkers, especially red wine drinkers.

I'd have to say that, in general, wine lies squarely in the non-savory drink category. Certainly there are those with meaty qualities, but they are ultimately a fruit based beverage.

I've been thinking of a drink I'd call The Green Mary. Many of the same ingredients that one might find in a Bloody, but without the tomato. Perhaps celery juice with jalapeno, cilantro, parsley, lime, wasabi, scallion, a touch of anchovy, and vodka.

The first major problem I can think of is that your teeth will be completely full of green stuff which may not go over with the bar crowd.

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What's surprising to me is not that there aren't more "savory" cocktails, but that there are any at all.

If you think about it, humans don't drink very many things that aren't sweet -- some are more obviously sweet than others, and some are sweet and sour (wine, many cocktails, lemonade), or sweet and bitter (beer, tonic, cola), but water's about the only non-sweet thing we drink. (Coffee and tea are exceptions, but of course a lot of people sweeten them. Plus, we drink them hot usually, which makes a difference, I think).

Still, I think there's a trend in cocktails to experiment with savory elements -- herbs, peppers, etc. -- which can result in some very interesting, not particularly sweet drinks. For example, I've tried a tall drink with gin and Lillet muddled with basil, with a splash of orange juice and soda. Not very sweet, intriguing because of the basil, really refreshing. But I wouldn't call it savory by any means.

But completely "savory" drinks? I don't think there are many possibilities that would be palatable.

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Yeah, most cocktails with savory ingredients seem to have a sweet element as well. Herbal liqueurs tend to be sugary. Even Bloody Marys have a sweet element thanks to the tomato.

Still, celery juice is promising, as is cucumber-- like that great juice you get when you salt and grate cucumbers. I have thought of making drinks that are sweet + salty by putting salted preserved plums in sake or something.

Wasn't there something called a Bullshot made with beef broth?

I think the concept of the oster shooter could be extended eg by making a drinkable ceviche in a glass with alcohol and a small amount of solid ingredients. Fishy-tasting drinks seem appealing to me.

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