Though bone broth most commonly evokes thoughts of soups, gravies, and sauces, the protein-rich liquid is popping up on cocktail menus, adding a unique flavor, richness, and texture to a variety of mixed drinks. Bartenders are mixing broths with whiskies and gin, touting its versatility, health benefits, and uniqueness. And while they note that some consumers are hesitant to embrace the trend, they add that a well-made bone broth cocktail can be a great menu addition, especially in the colder months.
Johnny Swet, co-owner and mixologist at Jimmy at The James in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, preps a chicken bone broth in the kitchen of The James Hotel. He says inspiration for the drink came from a bowl of chicken soup and that the broth gives his cocktail a soup-like feel. Swet makes the Chicken Bone Broth Toddy ($18), mixing broth with Nolet’s gin, Fee Brothers Celery bitters, and lemon juice, and garnishing the drink with a parsley sprig and sticks of carrot and celery. He offers the toddy during the winter months.
“In addition to the numerous health benefits of bone broth, it adds a rich, warm, and complex flavor to the toddy,” Swet says. “Guests are always surprised by how well gin works with the bone broth, but it makes sense since they both have herbs and botanicals. Bone broth definitely caters to a niche market, but it has the potential to become more popular because it tastes wonderful in a cocktail.”
In Los Angeles, bartender Dan Rook notes that his bone broth cocktail often starts conversations at the bar. As the lead bartender at Ever Bar in the Kimpton Everly Hotel Los Angeles, Rook makes a riff on the classic Millionaire cocktail using a duck confit bone broth made in the hotel’s kitchen. The Bone, Thighs and Harmony ($16) mixes St. George shochu with Grand Marnier liqueur, house-made pomegranate grenadine, and duck confit bone broth, garnished with sage.
“The drink is savory from the duck stock, but has a subtle sweetness from the pomegranate grenadine, a light citrus note from the Grand Marnier, and an earthy, funky backbone from the St. George shochu,” Rook explains. “The broth adds a nice umami flavor that’s salty, rustic, and vegetal, as well as a pleasant viscosity. I’m adamant about letting people know what they’re in for with the drink, because it’s one of the weirdest cocktails they’ll probably ever try. But we’re consistently told by guests how pleasantly balanced it is. They seem to really enjoy it.”
Rook adds that bone broth needs to be shaken hard with the other cocktail components so that the flavors really mix together. He likens the use of broth behind the bar to the use of saline solutions. “This is an evolution of that idea,” he explains. “But it gives us the opportunity to customize the broth with different flavor agents, like vegetables and spices.”
Chad Solomon, the co-creator of Dallas cocktail haven Midnight Rambler, uses a pre-packaged beef stock for his broth drink. He prefers the boxed stock because of its shelf stability and says it mixes better in chilled cocktails. His venue offers a broth-based shot called the Pho-King Champ ($8), which mixes Absolut Elyx vodka; Williams & Humbert Dry Sack 15-year-old Oloroso Sherry; sriracha, fish, and hoisin sauces; liquid aminos; lime juice; and Swanson’s beef stock that’s been aromatized with cardamom, black pepper, cassia bark, and star anise. Midnight Rambler previously served a Hot & Sour Chicken Toddy that was made with Beefeater gin, rice wine vinegar, sriracha sauce, and Swanson’s chicken stock ($12).
“Broths and stocks provide more colors from the savory palate to paint with,” Solomon says. “They add meaty flavors, richness and umami. The response to the Pho-King Champ has been enthusiastic and far exceeded our expectations. We’ve offered it since opening three years ago and it still remains popular enough to warrant a spot on our menu now, even when we transition the drinks menu seasonally.”