Five Savoury Sips

A new class of cocktails 

Sweetwater

If you’ve resolved to drink less sugar in 2016, it should be easy to stick to that liquid diet thanks to mixologists who are concocting cocktails with smoky, salty, vegetal and

herbal ingredients. Don’t be afraid of a little cilantro or rosemary in your glass. 

Bevy, Honolulu

Bevy has distinguished itself by serving less-sweet drinks that incorporate ingredients such as house-made syrups, ginger beer, mint soda and rhubarb gastrique. Try the No Surprise, a perennial favourite that’s light, refreshing and citrusy. Savoury elements include celery bitters, the anise-like flavour of Thai basil and a homemade lemongrass syrup that plays well with the herbaceous qualities of the botanicals in the gin and Green Chartreuse.

Park & Rec, San Diego

The Cabrillo cocktail at this University Heights hot spot combines green chili vodka with smoky mezcal, tart lime and pineapple, and a chili-salt rim, for a drink that’s more savoury and salty than fruity or sweet. Beverage consultant Trevor Easter drew inspiration from a Mexican paleta (a traditional frozen ice pop) he sampled in the Riviera Maya that contained peppers, pineapple and Tajin, which is a chili-lime-salt seasoning.

Smith, Winnipeg 

Jason Colatruglio of Smith loves encouraging his patrons to try savoury cocktails with elements such as house-made raisin bitters and rosemary-infused bourbon. A favourite sip is the Smoked Negroni, a strong and herbal twist on a classic Negroni that consists of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Aperol (an Italian aperitif made with bitter orange, gentian and rhubarb, among other ingredients), plus an artisan ice cube infused with smoke. 

Native Tongues Taqueria, Calgary

This taqueria gives the traditional margarita a savoury makeover by shaking in mezcal instead of tequila, and adding basil and cinnamon into the rim salt. The result is a Mezcalgarita that’s warm, smoky and sipped more slowly than the original. Bar manager Samantha Casuga loves pulling in herbs, spices and herbaceous spirits—think cilantro, chili, ginger, Chartreuse and Cynar—into her drinks to surprise the palate. 

Sweetwater, West Palm Beach, Florida

This West Palm Beach County bar is celebrated for its wide variety of craft cocktails, including those with a savoury bent, says Sweetwater partner Sean Iglehart. Order a Beetle Juice, a blood-red libation that combines gin and dried apple-infused bourbon with port and a roasted beet shrub. It’s herbaceous, vegetal and slightly acidic (thanks to the beet-vinegar syrup), with a touch of sweet port to balance out the drink.