BROTH IS THE new black. Or the new acai, or kombucha, or cold-pressed juice — whatever the current thing is that we must-must-must consume if we want to remain young and beautiful forever. Bone broth in particular is renowned for its collagen-boosting properties, giving your skin a taut, youthful glow, so naturally we on the cutting edge of culture have found a way to counteract all that by adding booze to it.
A little tippety-tap with your fingers around the internet will tell you that broth-based cocktails are all the rage right now, in the spirit (ha!) of mixologists seeking out edgy liquids to include in drinks — gunpowder, tobacco syrup and squid ink come to mind. But drinks made with broth or stock, adorably called “stocktails,” are actually an old idea, a throwback to when distilled spirits were not libations, but medicines. In days medieval, people did not regularly drink what were then called aquavits, or sometimes “Geneva Spirits,” unless they were dying, when the local apothecary would mix them with broths made of herbs, spices, whole pigeons, animal dung and horse placenta.
But we clever moderns have figured out how much fun said spirits can be, and we now create cocktails with everything under the sun (horse placenta: probably coming to a craft cocktail bar near you). One of the early stocktails actually meant for enjoying is the “Bull Shot,” which is a bit like a tomatoless Bloody Mary, comprised of vodka, beef broth, lime, celery salt and Worcestershire (and/or hot sauce, if you like).
The Bull Shot was supposedly invented in Detroit in the 1950s, right in the middle of the Dark Ages of food in America, which began with industrial-era convenience foods and out of which we are just now beginning to crawl. The art of making fresh, homemade stock was one of the saddest things to fall by the wayside, this essential element of cooking reduced to an MSG-laden bouillon cube. The idea of adding water to that block of forced umami and then drinking it with vodka for fun is everything that was depressing about “Mad Men.”
So, if making a stocktail at home, your drink (like your soup) is only as good as the broth you use. Mixologists are creating mashups of hot toddys and chicken soup and adding beef broth to Bloody Marys. KFC in Europe even added its gravy to cocktails last year (foodbeast.com/news/kfc-gravy-cocktails/), and a bar at an otherwise-stellar restaurant is probably your best bet to find a drink made with really fine, housemade stock.
Locally, you can head over to Monsoon to try the “Bloody Alternative” ($12), a heady-yet-refreshing, borderline divine signature brunch cocktail made with gin, kummel (a caraway-spiced spirit), pineapple and tomato juices, and housemade pho broth, the flavor studded with jewel-like notes of star anise and cumin. And if a cocktail has herbs and bone broth in it, I think it still counts as “medicine.” In this era of optimized efficiency, stocktails are a grand way to make your daily dose of collagen-boosting health food something you enjoy at happy hour.