As the saying goes, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” But you can have your sandwich and drink it too, it seems.
At cocktail bars across New York City, alcoholic drinks are taking inspiration from Italian subs and bacon, egg, and cheese bagels, New York magazine’s Grub Street reported on Monday. It’s just the latest innovation in how bartenders and mixologists are shaking up the genre, which has seen more and more of a savory twist as of late. As we noted earlier this year, for example, oil and vinegar have become two standout ingredients in N.Y.C. drinks.
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Now, though, cocktails are being taken even further, turning into full meals instead of just salad dressing. At Madame George, the NY Bodega Sour features bacon-washed whiskey, egg whites, and everything-bagel seasoning—all served in a classic bodega-style coffee cup. Reyna’s Bored in Buckingham has a very British name but delivers all-American flavor: Duck-fat-infused bourbon, plum liqueur, blueberry syrup, and spiced bitters combine for a Thanksgiving-esque drink. Elsewhere, you’ll find cocktails that center on soppressata-washed gin or blue-cheese-flavored sake.
The idea here isn’t novel. As Grub Street noted, fat-washing has become commonplace in cocktail dens around the world. But the sandwich-flavored drinks represent the extreme end of social-media-induced gimmicks. Sure, some bartenders are creating these drinks because they want to push the limits of what a cocktail can be. But many are also hoping to appeal to the TikTok and Instagram crowds, to boost business. Not all sandwich cocktails are created equally.
“Too many people feel smart wearing KFC-scented underwear,” the international restaurant consultant Michael Whiteman told Grub Street. “But what sounds TikTok-y faddish today will feel foolish tomorrow.”
It’s possible that the sandwich-drink trend has already been played out, too. More and more, Grub Street wrote, candy-inspired drinks are showing up on restaurant menus, like the Bubble Gum Sour at Marcus Samuelsson’s new Metropolis. Salad, entrée, dessert—it’s the natural progression of things. And once New York drinkers get tired of the ultra-sweet flavors, we may circle back to the classics, which are called that for a reason. Vespers, Manhattans, and Martinis are the drinks that have stuck around for more than a century, and they’ll be here for centuries to come. Pair yours with a hamburger, and keep the sandwich on the side.
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