Monday, February 23, 2015

Rant: Want A Bloody Cocktail?

Mixologists sometimes reach into the past for cocktail ideas, seeking out old bartender guides, while other times they reach toward the future, trying to create cutting-edge and unique drinks. In the desire to be unique, to push the envelope, there is little they won't use in such cocktails. However, is there a limit, a line in the sand, as to what ingredients should be used? Is animal blood an acceptable cocktail ingredient?

Meat has been previously used in cocktails, with bacon being the most prominent choice. It might be as simple as a slice of crisp bacon sitting in a Bloody Mary or more complicated, such as a bacon-infused bourbon. Four years ago, I enjoyed the Abbatoir cocktail at The Gallows, which used veal stock. Presenting a savory delight, the stock added a compelling umami element. As Sake has a strong umami component, it might be interesting to create some Sake cocktails using different meat stocks. It is still rare to find cocktails with meat stocks, but it seems the next step has now been taken.

The Telegraph recently reported on a London bar that is now using pig's blood in one of their cocktails. No.9, in Chelsea, created the Slaughterhouse, which is also made with Johnnie Walker Black Label, Columbian coffee, Kahlua, dark chocolate liqueur, Campari, blood orange juice and raspberry liqueur. They source the pig's blood from local butchers and put it through a couple processes to make it more amenable for the cocktail. These ingredients, once combined, are also smoked with cheery wood and chestnut wood chippings.

The cocktail allegedly doesn't taste like blood, it merely serves to deepen the other flavors of the cocktail. If you drank it without knowing the ingredients, you probably wouldn't know blood was involved. However, how many people would order it if they knew it contained pig's blood? I suspect many people might be turned off, or even frightened, of drinking a cocktail containing animal blood. It seems difficult enough to get them to drink one made from a meat stock. Blood would be an ever greater obstacle for many consumers.

I'd try a blood cocktail. I've eaten foods before that used blood as an ingredient, including blood sausage, and I very much enjoy such dishes. So why would it matter if the blood was in a cocktail and not on my plate? It wouldn't matter to me, though I know it would to others. It is more a psychological issue than anything else for many people. They might enjoy a bloody steak but wouldn't like a cocktail that had a bit of blood in it.

Be adventurous. Trust in your bartender. Drink a bloody cocktail and enjoy it.

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