5 savory cocktails setting the trend in St. Louis right now
Savory elements in cocktails are nothing new. Piquant flavors play major roles in drinks from the venerable bloody mary to the ever-popular dirty martini. But more subtle and varied uses of these sorts of saporous essences are appearing on area cocktail menus than ever before.
Around town, savory notes can be found in drinks like the Southpaw at Lazy Tiger, a tasty concoction built around seaweed-infused London dry gin, or the Beets by J at Brennan’s, which relies on beet juice and pepper syrup to get its flavorful point across.
“I’ve always loved the idea of drinking things you’d normally eat,” said Terry Oliver, bar manager at Frazer’s Restaurant & Lounge. At one point, Oliver actually had an entire savory section of his cocktail menu, and he still focuses on those sorts of flavors when developing new drinks. One of the standouts on Oliver’s current list is the Pho Sho made with curry-infused cachaca, coconut gomme syrup, lemon verbena tincture and lime juice, inspired by a favorite curried lamb dish at Pho Grand.
Platypus and New Society co-owner Meredith Barry is doing all manner of savory drinks at her bars, getting creative with everything from crab butter and pork fat to chicken stock, miso and even sweet potato. A Zombie variant called Flush It Here, featuring a dark rum that’s been infused with roast beef and chicken biscuit crackers, will soon go on the board at Platypus.
“It’s weird, and it works,” Barry said. “It has that savory-sweet balance.”
As befits its experimental nature, New Society also offers an abundance of savory sips, like Kitchen Culture, a cocktail that’s like a liquid caprese salad. Based on an olive-infused vodka, roasted tomato water, liquid koji and a mozzarella foam, Barry said it’s a good bridge for those who like bloodys and dirty martinis and are ready to expand their horizons.
“It’s super savory but bright all at the same time,” she said.
Then there’s Unsung Starz, a pair of vegetal milk punches featuring peas and carrots as the primary players, a one-two punch that Barry refers to as an “umami bomb.”
Oliver said in years past it took a little bit of coaxing to get guests to step over the flavor line to the savory side, but it’s an easier sell now as customers are more adventurous with their libations. While these sorts of flavors may take a bit more work to integrate into a liquid framework, the resulting alchemy is well worth the labor.
“I think it’s harder to play [with savory flavors] in liquid form, so it’s a challenge,” Barry said. “But when you do it, you realize all those things work. I think that there are so many savory notes that can be pulled forward in spirits, so why not?”
Lazy Tiger, 210 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.925.8888, lazytigerstl.com
Brennan’s, 316 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.497.4449, cometobrennans.com
Frazer’s Restaurant & Lounge, 1811 Pestalozzi St., St. Louis, 314.773.8646, frazersgoodeats.com
Platypus, 501 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.448.1622, drinkplatypus.com
New Society, 3194 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, newsocietystl.com