No Bones About It
The bone broth craze seemed to hit critical mass this past winter, with everyone extoling its seemingly endless health benefits. Bartenders looking to add a touch of the savory are using broths and bone by-products for cocktails. Do they claim to be cure-alls? Maybe not. But these elixirs are interesting, not to mention enticingly delicious.
At Range, a restaurant in Washington, D.C. that focuses on modern Mid-Atlantic cuisine, broth is a key ingredient in the aptly named Vegan Sacrifice ($12). For it, Beverage Director Dane Nakamura makes ice cubes by freezing beef consommé on wooden sticks, and places one inside the cocktail, which contains Great King Street Scotch, ginger and cayenne. As the ice melts, it adds salty, savory notes to the drink that are particularly synergistic with the pepper and the whisky. “Eventually those savory flavors steal the show, but every time you take a sip the drink changes.” Impatient imbibers can take a bite of the broth-cicle and chase it with the cocktail. Either way, he says, “it makes it interactive and ever-involving.”
The restaurant’s Bloody Mary ($12) also gets beefed up. Nakamura starts with a vegetable stock made with San Marzano tomatoes, a mirepoix, jalapeños, bay leaves and a bevy of spices including smoked paprika and black pepper. Shiro dashi ups the umami factor, and the broth is rounded out with any leftover cured meat bones and bacon that the kitchen can spare. It’s pressure-cooked, cooled, and clarified with egg whites before being mixed with vodka and garnished for the brunch beverage; the technique lends both texture and taste. “You are left with a very clean intensely flavored drink that doesn’t have all the heaviness of a normal Bloody Mary,” say Nakamura.
Scotch seems to have an affinity for meat-based broths. At Pistola, an Italian-American restaurant in Los Angeles, From the Kitchen With Love ($22) was the brainchild of bartender (and daily bone broth advocate) Aaran Melendez. Six ounces of clarified broth made from lamb neck bones is mixed with Glenlivet 15 Years Old Single Malt Scotch, a mellower option than other Scotches and Mezcals he tried.
The bone actually becomes an ingredient (not to mention a conversation piece) at Barcelona Wine Bar, a tapas concept with locations in several states. One of the selections on the Mixed Grill ($24.50) is bone marrow. For guests who order a glass of Sherry alongside, ($6-$14), the server brings the wine bottle to the table, uses the leftover bone as a “luge,” and pours the Sherry down into it and into the guest’s mouth. “The leftover marrow in the bone is super rich and savory, and when that mixes with the nutty caramel complexities in the Sherry, it’s deniably delicious,” declares Emily Nevin-Giannini, Barcelona’s Regional Beverage Director for MA, DC and VA. “[It’s] worth the spectacle and marrow dripping down your chin!”
Still, Nakamura finds all the current hoopla over bone broths—and its positioning as the next super food—pretty comical. “All proper stocks are arguably healthy, and every chef uses his left over bones and carcasses to make incredible stocks that get turned into demi-glaces, and sauces, and soups…or in my case, cocktails.”