Beef broth makes interesting cocktails

By / Wine + Drinks / March 22nd, 2019 / 4
beef broth cocktail

Remember the Bullshot cocktail? Well, unless you have a long memory, the answer is likely “no.” Some, however, might faintly recall having heard of a beef broth-vodka drink that survived into the 1990s (thanks to a few nostalgic, salty old-timers) even though it was well past its best-before date by then. 

Invented in mid-century Detroit, this odd-sounding broth cocktail enjoyed a good run throughout the 1950s and 60s, especially in California, where it was popular with celebrities who embraced the Bullshot as both a novelty and a proto-wellness drink. Like many trendy cocktails, though, it got too popular for its own good and started to fade about 50 years ago. Which, obviously, makes it a perfect candidate for a revival, especially given that bone broth is currently enjoying a moment. It’ll need to be reinvented, of course, since the original was really quite basic — vodka, beef stock, Worcestershire, celery salt and, for the more adventurous types, a drop or two of Tabasco. In all, hardly appropriate for our new golden age of cocktails.

“I started to see some bars offering a bone broth, but it was usually just mixed with a really clean-tasting white spirit, like a white rum, so I think the goal was really just to serve warm broth infused with alcohol,” says Jared Wall, beverage outlet manager at the Prince George Hotel in downtown Halifax. “I wanted to go outside of the box and instead of using something warm, wanted to do something a little more like a cocktail.”

Wall’s first thought was fat-washing, since that’s been widely-used by bartenders for infusing spirits with bacon, duck or foie gras flavour. It’s a pretty simple process that involves adding warm, liquified fat (such as leftover bacon grease) to a spirit, refrigerating it for a day and then, after it’s imparted the flavour to the spirit, removing the congealed fat from the top. Unfortunately, bone broth is just about completely fat-free, so Wall decided to try freezing it into cubes and using them in his signature Broken Bone cocktail, a smoky, slightly meaty Old Fashioned with a hint of pecan.

“They’re small, one-by-one inch cubes, which we chose because they’d melt at a perfect rate. We added about five to six cubes to the glass and by the time we stirred the drink, you could already taste the essence of the broth in there,” says Wall. “Everyone really liked how it slowly integrated into the drink as the ice melted, like a fat-wash cocktail with that kind of umami-rich characteristic you get when the protein seems to change the structure of the spirit.”

After the cocktail is finished, patrons could wait for all the ice to fully melt and drink back a chill, locally-sourced, high-quality bone broth, infused with a little sweet whisky flavour. Nothing like getting two drinks for the price of one. As a bonus, you could probably justify the second one as part of a wellness regimen.

Or, just enjoy it as a little tasty dividend — a second drink.

The Broken Bone

2 oz Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon (if unavailable, any smoky bourbon will do)
1 sugar cube
3 dashes Apothecary Mason-Dixon Southern Pecan bitters
6 frozen bone-broth cubes
Large orange peel zested

Place the sugar cube in a rocks glass and douse it with three dashes of pecan bitters, as well as a splash of bourbon to help break it down. Muddle until it’s become thick syrup. Add ice. Then bourbon. Stir well for 60 seconds. Express oils from peel and drop zest into glass. Stir again for 15 seconds.


Christine Sismondo is a National Magazine Award-Winning drinks columnist and the author of Mondo Cocktail: A Shaken and Stirred History as well as America Walks into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops.

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