6 Unexpected Cocktails for Cheese Lovers
Have your cheese and drink it, too.
I’m staring at the wine glass on the table before me, unsure if I'll be able to drink its contents. In it is a melange of grappa influenced by fennel, amaro and Prosecco, Italian herbs, balsamic, and orange and juniper bitters. And crowning the curious cocktail is a large crisp of Parmesan cheese.
The concept of taking a journey through Italy in a glass both excites and concerns me. But one sip of the Marmolada Spritz—one of the latest additions to the Spirit of the Mountains cocktail program offered at SIDECUT at Four Seasons Whistler, has me committed to drinking the entire cocktail—Parmesan and all.
While a side plate of cheese often complements a cocktail, I had yet to savor a drink with cheese inside it, as an ingredient, until now. I was so surprisingly tasty that I set out to find more cocktails with cheese to add to my must-try list. From a martini made with blue cheese found in my backyard of Vancouver, B.C., to a feta-flavored find in Manchester, England, these cocktails are sure to please any cheese lover looking for a savory sip.
Read more: The Cocktail I Come Back to Every Summer
Marmolada Spritz - SIDECUT, Whistler, B.C.
Named after the highest mountain of the Dolomites in northeastern Italy, this bold beverage created by Josh Marsland reflects the rich cultural history that has inspired the food and drink served for centuries in the the region’s mountain huts, called “rifugis.” The Marmolada Spritz is a new addition to SIDECUT’s Spirit of the Mountains drink series, which pays tribute to alpine regions around the world through multi-sensory cocktail offerings. The touch of herbs and local flora takes you on a journey through the mountains, and the crunch of the Parmesan topper pairs perfectly with the rest of the drink.
Blue Fig Martini - Chambar, Vancouver, B.C.
As a nod to the cutting-edge cocktail scene in Sidney, Australian barkeep David Fesq of Chambar created the Blue Fig Martini back in 2004. Now considered a Vancouver classic, this cocktail combines a smooth roasted-fig-infused gin mixed with a dollop of simple syrup, and then kicks it up with spoon-sized nibbles of sharp blue cheese presented on the side for a fromage-forward finish.
Martini Reggiano - L’Abattoir, Vancouver, B.C.
Suitably described as “perfectly dirty, creamy, and sharp,” this martini found at L’Abattoir puts the Parmesan front and center. Combining either Vancouver Island’s own Seaside gin or Kazuki gin, shaken with Parmesan- and thyme-infused gin, a vermouth blend, and Parmesan oil, this cheesy cocktail is a sharp choice for any cheese lover.
The Mary Nell - Cafe Nell, Portland, Oregon
Located in the heart of the Oregon Coast’s dairy country, the town of Tillamook is famous for the century-old Tillamook Cheese Factory, so it seems only fitting to include the town’s claim to fame in this cheesy twist on a cocktail classic. But Café Nell’s Mary Nell isn’t your average garnish-top-heavy Bloody Mary. Made with a mysterious mixture that the bar manager keeps closely guarded, the flavors of this famous drink are unique. Topped with Tillamook cheese, Olympia Provisions chorizo, skewers of shrimp, and pickled vegetables, this meal-in-a-glass is a must-try.
Fog Point Martini - Epic Steak, San Francisco
It’s believed that a bartender in San Francisco first served what we now know today as the martini, so where better to try a fresh take on the traditional cocktail. At $43 per glass, the Fog Point Martini at Epic Steak is much more than the classic gin or vodka and vermouth mix. It features Hangar One Fog Point vodka, which is made of San Francisco Bay fog turned into fresh water and blended with vodka that’s crafted from distilled Californian wine, that’s then topped off with blue-cheese-stuffed olives. The pricy pick gives a new meaning to “dirty martini.”
You Feta Believe It - Science & Industry, Manchester, England
Created by Karl Stanley at Science & Industry in Manchester, You Feta Believe It was inspired by a holiday hop-over to the Mediterranean. The super-savory sour incorporates pisco washed in feta alongside a red grape shrub and drizzled with a balsamic glaze. The combination of creamy cheese and balsamic sour makes this cheesy concoction a true treat for cheese obsessives.