You probably already know about umami, which can essentially be defined as yumminess. You'll experience this somewhat mysterious taste in extremely delicious foods such as mushrooms, cured meats and oysters, but aside from the Bloody Mary (whose tomato base is packed with umami-saturated amino acids), cocktail culture has been largely devoid of the fifth taste until now. Adventurous, risk-taking bartenders are starting to infuse their cocktails with savory deliciousness. Here, six umami cocktails from bars across the country.
The Drink: Vegan Sacrifice
Umami Factor: Cured meats and raw beef
At Bryan Voltaggio’s Range in Washington, DC, bartender Dane Nakamura has created a wondrous thing called “meat ice.” To make it, Nakamura combines San Marzano tomato water with trimmings of cured meats, raw beef and vegetables, Old Bay, bay leaves and a mirepoix of carrots, onion and celery in a pressure cooker. He cools and clarifies the stock, adds egg whites and a splash of pig’s blood for good measure, then freezes the mixture. The ice is used in the Vegan Sacrifice, a spicy, smoky cocktail made with Scotch, ginger ale and cayenne. As the ice melts, the cocktail becomes more and more savory.
The Drink: Whickle Back
The Umami Factor: Kombu
Served at Plan Check’s Downtown L.A. location, the Whickle Back puts an Asian spin on the classic pickleback shot. Chef Ernesto Uchimura infuses pickle brine with kombu, a type of seaweed often used in Japanese dashi. The salty, sour, savory brine is served as a chaser with a shot of Jameson Black.