Savoury Cocktails Are Having A Moment

By Ellie Smith

6 days ago

Super-sweet tipples are out, umami-rich concoctions are in

Fancy a marmite margarita? How about a porcini punch? Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it: savoury cocktails are all the rage right now. The world’s top bartenders are experimenting with unusual combinations, blending the worlds of food and drink to push the boundaries when it comes to cocktail menus. 

Drinks Trend For 2024: Savoury Cocktails

Of course, this isn’t an entirely new trend: the Bloody Mary has been a staple on cocktail menus for decades, made with tomato juice, tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Egg whites have long been used to add a foam texture to drinks like pisco sours – and who could forget the martini, which is served with an olive perched inside the glass?

Recently, though, bartenders have been getting braver, delving into the world of umami cocktails by bringing familiar flavours into unfamiliar territory. Nothing is off limits: think root vegetables, cheese, salmon, beef – used to create briney tastes and move away from the sweet, syrupy tipples that have dominated for so long. Some of us are trying our own at home too – last year, the parmesan espresso martini went viral on TikTok (though this wasn’t necessarily bartender-approved).

‘People have become much more versed in a wider range of ingredients,’ says top bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana, founder of Lyaness. ‘As they’ve come to recognise more ingredients from their cooking as well as from their local shops, they’ve become more excited to try some of these more savoury ingredients in their drinks. It’s also tracked with bartenders working much more closely with suppliers, and this has widened the range of flavours that have made their way into cocktails.’

Cocktail at Lyaness

At Lyaness, one of the most popular drinks is the Goose & Gander, a GREY GOOSE vodka tipple made with a homemade szechuan sauce, apricots and aromatic herbs. The Forbidden Cola, meanwhile, is made with a cornflake liqueur, while the Unfiltered Martini contains potatoes (yes, really). o

It’s not just Lyaness though: savoury cocktails are popping up all over the world. French bartender Nico de Soto uses ingredients like wagyu fat-washed shochu at his Parisian hotspot Danico, and esteemed New York bar Double Chicken Please (which has been named on the World’s 50 Best Bars list) serves a pizza cocktail. ‘Some of these offer new sets of flavour and texture, but they also offer a counterbalance of flavours to open up a new set of experiences for guests,’ says Chetiyawardana.

Keen to brave a tipple or two? Chetiyawardana has some advice for those mixing their own at home. ‘Every ingredient has a different threshold, so you need to assess the right way to incorporate them to still retain balance – but the beauty is you can often tease out different flavours depending on how you treat them – e.g. a cold steep vs roasting an ingredient; as a more-involved example, we make potato taste like vanilla ice cream at Lyaness. The best is to think on how you use/love an ingredient in your cooking, then you’ll be able to better understand how to combine or use an ingredient.’

Alternatively, leave it to the professionals. Below we highlight some of London’s most weird and wonderful savoury cocktails.

The Wave Bar Park Chinois

Park Chinois

London’s Best Savoury Cocktails

  • The Smokey Maria at Scarfes Bar: Rosewood London’s Scarfes Bar serves a PATRÓN tequila-based cocktail made with Marmite, caper leaf and smoked clamato.
  • Goose & Gander at Lyaness: This aforementioned vodka cocktail from Lyaness is made with szechuan sauce, giving it a zingy kick.
  • Bloody Mary at Double Standard: The restaurant at King’s Cross hotel The Standard has its own DIY Bloody Mary station – garnish your drinks with everything from gherkins to bacon, if you dare.
  • Salome at The Aubrey: Love a dirty martini? This umami-rich drink from The Mandarin Oriental’s dining room The Aubrey is a twist on the classic cocktail, made with tomato liqueur, sake and rice shochu.
  • Corn + Truffle at Crossroads: This experimental bar in Camden serves a truffle-infused drink, blended with corn, bourbon and sherry.
  • V + P at Wacky Wombat: You’ll either love or you’ll hate this twist on the traditional pisco sour, made with Marmite.
  • Porcini Old Fashioned at Park Chinois: Glitzy Mayfair restaurant Park Chinois serves a mushroom-infused whisky tipple.