For as long as brunch menus have existed, Bloody Marys have been a staple. However, a new wave of bars from Hong Kong to New York has been trying to add savory drinks like roast chicken and Waldorf salad to their cocktail menus.
Is it just a way to stand out from the crowd and be subversive to offer Thai beef salad cocktails on a bar menu? Or is there a genuine desire for these drinks?
According to deputy food editor Margaret Eby of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the rise in popularity of mocktails is directly linked to the rise in interest in savory cocktails.
According to Eby, who jokingly refers to some savory cocktails as “hard soups,” “the feedback is that every non-alcoholic standard drink that you get is really sweet.”
She points out that alcohol typically neutralizes the sweet flavors of many common cocktail ingredients, such as fruit juices and simple syrups. However, when vodka or whiskey are eliminated, the sweetness comes through much more clearly.
Furthermore, as worldwide food cost vacillations make a few fixings more costly or hard to track down, Eby believes it’s great practice for café and bar proprietors to fan out. She asserts, “you get to use a lot more of the supermarket than you would necessarily have before” with savory cocktails.
Although the Bloody Mary is the most well-known savory cocktail, a drink called the Tomatini uses tomatoes in a very different way.
The drink was created for LPM’s Mediterranean restaurants as a way to combine lemons, tomatoes, and vinegar, three main menu items.
The cocktail was first made in 2010 and includes cherry tomatoes, white balsamic vinegar, black pepper, lemon juice, and Ketel One vodka. A tiny, perfectly round tomato is located on the glass’s rim, where maraschino cherries or lemon slices typically hang out.
According to Tibor Krascsenics, the Global Bar Manager at LPM Restaurant & Bar, who spoke with CNN, “back in the early days of the cocktail, some guests were hesitant (to try it) due to the idea of having a savory cocktail,” many customers inquired about the drink’s resemblance to gazpacho.
However, “they tried it and realized that the flavor is very delicate and fell in love with it.”
Presentation also helps. The pinkish drink is served in a coupe rather than a martini glass and has foam on top.
At LPM locations worldwide, including Miami, Dubai, and London, the Tomatini is now a staple.
Increasing the selections
Even though tomatoes are technically fruits but are frequently mistaken for vegetables, they are not the only ingredient that can make a cocktail flavorful.
The Savory Project, a bar in Hong Kong that opened in May 2023, celebrates a variety of uncommon ingredients like corn husks and beef jerky.
Jay Khan, a co-owner, explains, “We’re not afraid to use ingredients that aren’t commonly found in drinks.” For instance, using various fungi, such as mushrooms and other things, with beef We experiment with anything we can think of, then try to make a drink out of it.
Khan was the founder of Coa, a bar with a focus on tequila and mezcal that was voted the best in Asia in 2022.
One of the reasons he decided to focus on savory drinks for his next project was witnessing Hong Kong locals develop an appreciation for these Mexican alcoholic beverages and their saltier, umami-tinged pairings.
The Savory Project menu, which he and co-founder Ajit Gurung divided into alcoholic and non-alcoholic sections, features illustrations of major flavors next to drink names, such as a mushroom, clam, and leek, to make them more approachable.
“We can make drinks that are very adventurous, but what’s the point if the people drinking them don’t understand the flavor?” Khan states
However, not all bars have decided to focus exclusively on savory cocktails.
Double Chicken Please, a popular restaurant in New York City, has two rooms: a front room with drinks that are more traditional and a back room with more experimental cocktails for guests who are more daring.
There are nine core cocktails listed in three sections on the menu in the back room: like a food menu, appetizers, main courses, and desserts.
In the principal bunch, there are drinks enlivened by Potato salad and Japanese cold noodles; A cocktail with parmesan cheese called “Cold Pizza” can be found in the middle section.
A dish that Double Chicken Please’s manager of brand marketing and communications Tako Chang refers to as a “reverse pairing” is one of the menu’s standouts.
The popular Southern dish of country ham served with gravy on top is the inspiration for Red Eye Gravy. However, the roles are reversed here: The main course is the gravy, which is made with coffee, butter, Irish whiskey, and mushrooms. A piece of prosciutto is just a garnish and not the main course.
Last year, the World’s 50 Best named Double Chicken Please the best bar in North America. The flood of consideration implies that more guests have, as Chang puts it, “gotten their work done” before they come in and take a stab at anything.
Some people ask for a particular cocktail they saw on Instagram, while others look over the menu before making a reservation.
However, one thing is certain: Alcoholic beverages without added sugar are not a gimmick.
Chang asserts, “The savory cocktail is definitely growing.” There can be no doubt.