I was browsing through the eGullet cocktail discussion board the other day, and spotted a phrase that made me smile. Dan Chadwick of Kindred Cocktails referred to the ingredients in this cocktail as a perfect "trifecta of spousal abhorrence." The drink called for mezcal, Spanish brandy, and Fernet Branca....plus vegetal, bittersweet Cynar to make matters more serious. It's certainly not a concoction that everyone would be into, and you have to wonder if the poor spouse was required to taste it.
But earthy, savory, pungent ingredients are all the rage—cocktail lists these days are full of carway-laced aquavit and bacony mezcal and vegetables in all forms. At a bar recently, I heard a customer request "something bitter and strange." The resulting drink, made with unforgivingly bitter Amaro Sibilia, was presented with a proud smile. "Strange and bitter, like my wife," the bartender said. In the past year, we saw cocktails made with shrimp stock and seaweed, vinegar and yogurt, cumin and curry powder.
Perhaps the push for savory and bitter cocktails is a natural evolution away from the sweet drinks of the Cosmo and Lemon Drop days, or perhaps it's the result of bartenders' excitement about newly revived historical ingredients, newly created bitter potions, and unusual small batch spirits. Perhaps they just want to make sure we don't get bored.
But do you like these weird and wacky drinks? Are you into sherry and mezcal and aquavit? Will you take shots of Becherovka or Fernet? Would you try a cocktail made with Jägermeister?
When you order a drink, is there one spirit or cocktail ingredient that's on your do-not-choose list? A flavor you just can't get past? I want to know.