Ellen Clifford
November 15, 2014 8:00 am

I told you about the brilliance of Greg Henry, the man behind SippitySup, when we made mac n cheese pie together. Would ya believe the man deals in drinks too? In the craft cocktail world right now, sweet is out. Perhaps even looked down upon. I have to say I agree that the neon green appletini is a beverage that needs to be retired, right next to any snack that involves more than one thing being stuffed into another. Lookin’ at you, mister turducken.

Greg Henry’s Savory Cocktails takes us through all the ways a drink can be savory. Yes, bitters are trending right now but there are more shades to savory. The book is divided into chapters based on these categories: sour, spicy, herbal, umami, bitter, smoky, rich, strong. Some of the recipes take a bit of commitment. They are the type of recipes that have sub-recipes. For instance, the Thai Bird Chile Kamikaze involves first making Thai bird chili-infused vodka and herbal lemon syrup with cilantro. But if you are into cocktails and cooking, you don’t let this stop you.

The whole point of having so many categories is to highlight the idea that savory is not necessarily just “not sweet”. Savory has nuances. Some of the categories had me glancing askance —like what is an umami cocktail? Does it come with a burger? To answer this question, Henry guides us to cocktails like his Bloody Mary. I’m betting it is the anchovies in the Worcestershire sauce that create that subtle, salty, hard-to-define flavor we call umami.

It was also interesting to see all the ways a drink fit into the “smoky” category. Smoky cocktails aren’t just limited to things made with mezcal. Yes, quite a few of them involve it but smokiness also comes from things like lapsing souchong tea, which is made by burning dried black tea over pinewood. There are some drinks that use Scotch in there too for the whisky fans.

If you have a penchant for Friday nights alone in your kitchen where you can drink nifty things without needing to pay for a cab (don’t drink and drive!), and experiment with all kinds of ingredients, these cocktails are for you. If you open my fridge right now you will find a couple of different beet infused spirits and 4 types of simple syrup (ginger, cinnamon, demerara sugar and cane sugar). Look, if I am going to be your Book Cook I wanna commit, OK?

If you do decide to make one of the drinks that involves infusions, you’ll need to plan ahead. But that’s okay. You can do what I do and drink some wine in the meantime. Now, when it came time to pick a drink to share, I am a big fan of bitters. I am a big fan of savory cocktails in general. But I also have a soft spot for pretty, lush drinks, too, so I picked the Campari Alexander for us to make. The Campari Alexander is a play on the Brandy Alexander, but uses Campari instead of brandy. The dark chocolate undertones and cream make me feel pretty luxurious indeed! Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Campari Alexander adapted from Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry

  • 2 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. dark crème de cacao
  • 1 oz. heavy cream (I used half and half)
  • unsweetened cocoa powder to garnish

Shake it all up, until frothy, in a cocktail shaker filled 2/3 of the way up with ice. Strain into a glass. The book recommends double straining into a double old-fashioned glass although I used a cocktail glass. Let the foam rise. Sprinkle on the cocoa powder. Cheers!

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