Here at Very Good Drinks, we realize more and more each day just how much savory flavors can be absolutely mind-blowing and completely warranted in cocktails.
While sweet and fruity drinks are ubiquitous in the world of cocktails, we are here to say umami-rich, salty cocktails FOR SURE deserve a place in your drink repertoire.
Savory cocktails are not a new concept. Many of you have probably enjoyed that supremely satisfying sip of a perfectly salty, spicy bloody mary with all of its tomato umami goodness, and noticed your hangover just float away in the brunchtime breeze.
Other salty drinks like the “Bull Shot” of the 1950s (including beef broth, celery salt, and Worcestershire sauce), and the “Michelada” (Mexican Cerveza with hot sauce, tomato juice, and lime), have been the delight of many decerning drinkers for years. These savory drinks have always captured my imagination and have been a part of many drinking cultures for decades.
Well, WE WANT IN.
Let’s talk about what has quickly become a bit of an obsession of mine these past few years, SOUP COCKTAILS!
These Hot Toddy / Bull Shot / Cup o’ Noodles mash-ups are SO. FRICKIN’. GOOD. (if done right)
Here, let me paint you a picture:
It’s chilly out, you’ve been feeling a little under the weather perhaps. Maybe you’re a little hungover. MAYBE, you’re just kinda hungry AND thirsty all at the same time.
ENTER: The Soup Cocktail.
Made up of essentially 3 simple parts, this very versatile soup drink can be just the thing when you really need something that’ll stick to your bones. So, move over alphabet soup because alcoholic soup has something to say.
Part 1: The Broth.
Broth brings life, baby. Making a broth concentrate is the quickest and easiest way to pull off a delicious soup cocktail of your own. It’s as simple as adding your favorite bouillon base to a bit of hot water. We really like the Knorr brand cubes because they are super convenient and tasty.
For each 12-gram cube we add about 1/2 a cup of hot water and stir until fully dissolved. This creates the broth concentrate.
(We also love the ‘Better Than Bullion’ brands of stock concentrate)
If you can’t find those, we suggest giving a humble Ramen flavor packet a try. They are inexpensive and pretty widely available.
For extra credit, you could even use homemade stocks from leftover chicken or shrimp scraps. Just make sure to salt to taste and (this part is important) ADD MSG!
MSG or monosodium glutamate is basically crystallized umami and is extremely useful in many applications. Some people fear-monger this incredible ingredient but we’ve found that like salt (or anything else in life) use in moderation is key. Here at VGD, we like to think MSG stands for “Make Sh*t Good”.
Part 2: The Booze
Spirits can be incredible vehicles for flavor. Using a simple infusion technique, you can really dial in the subtleties and backbone of your cocktail.
I like to use an alcohol infusion as you would aromatic ingredients when building a soup from scratch.
For example, in our Tom Yom soup cocktail, we used all the traditional aromatics found in the famous Thai dish (lemongrass, makrut lime leaf, galangal, and Thai chili) to infuse the flavors into a smooth and mild rice-based vodka for 2 days.
Another example of this is the infusion on the “Broth it Like it’s Hot” cocktail. This is our attempt at a more traditional European vegetable soup flavor profile so we infused our vodka with celery, unripe tomato, and fennel seeds for a full-fledged vegetal taste!
Using infusions or even herbal liqueurs such as gentian liqueurs can be a great way to add just the right flavor backbone to your masterpiece.
Part 3: The Garnish
For cocktails that are served hot, garnish plays an extra important role as heating spirits can often release their ethanol-scented fumes.
In order to mask these fumes with something a little more enticing, we recommend a float of infused oil or even freshly chopped herbs or veg.
For our Tom Yum soup cocktail, we garnished our spicy soup with chili & garlic-infused coconut oil, as well as a fragrant makrut lime leaf, and… yea, a frickin’ deep fried shrimp head. How’s that for aromatic huh?
Now that you’ve got the 3 parts of the soup trifecta, GO FORTH AND BROTH IT LIKE IT’S HOT!
- 1-1.5 oz broth concentrate
- 1 oz veggie infused vodka*
- ~3 oz hot water
- 1-2 barspoon garlic infused olive oil
- fried enoki mushroom and green onion for garnish
- Add broth concentrate and veggie vodka to a heat resistant glass
- top with hot water
- garnish with garlic oil, fired enoki mushroom, and green onion
VEGGIE VODKA: Infuse vodka wits celery, fennel seed, and tomato for 24-48 hours.
BROTH CONCENTRATE: add 1 large (12g) veggie or chicken bouillon cube to 1/2 cup of hot water and stir until dissolved. Keep refrigerated when not in use.
- •1-1.5 oz tom yum broth*
- •1 oz Tom yum infused vodka (jasmine rice vodka infused with galangal, makrut lime leaf, thai chili, and lemongrass)
- •0.5 oz lime juice
- •top with hot water
- •Makrut lime leaf
- •garlic-chili oil
- •deep fried shrimp head 🦐
- Bruise 1/2 piece of lemongrass, 1 thai chili, about a quarter inch piece of galangal, 1-2 makrut lime leaves, and add them to 300 ml of vodka.
- Allow to infuse for 1-2 days.
- Add one large ’Tom Yum‘ flavored bouillon cube (or 12g) to 1/2 a cup of hot water and dissolve.
- Pour lime juice, broth concentrate, and vodka into a heat safe glass or mug.
- Top with around 3 oz of hot water.
- Garnish with garlic-chili oil, makrut lime leaf, and deep fried shrimp head!
Many asian markets will carry ’Tom Yum’ flavoring packets but we think using a chili-shrimp ramen bouillon packet could work well in this too!