Pistola, an Italian-American restaurant in Los Angeles, is spiking the current bone broth craze with some unexpected ingredients. Enter: The soup cocktail. Bartender Aaron Melendrez is responsible for "From the Kitchen With Love," a $22 bone broth libation made with six ounces of lamb consommé plus two ounces of Glenlivet 15. And no, this is not like French onion soup where the booze is added in then cooked out. Melendrez pours in the scotch just before serving.
After experimenting with mezcal and then Glenlivet 12, Melendrez, who debuted the drink last week, decided to go with the mellower 15-year-old scotch because it didn’t overwhelm the flavor of the soup. Which, to the nose, smells like pure scotch, but flavor-wise starts off boozy then finishes with a sweet, light savoriness. "[The Glenlivet 15] has a little more barrel character but it’s not going to overtake anything. I dropped it in the broth and it works really well," he says.
For the broth itself, Melendrez boils lamb neck bones for eight hours then clarifies the liquid, straining it through a coffee filter. Instead of a cocktail glass, the hot savory cocktail is served in a shallow bowl garnished with toasted crostini and bits of asparagus, carrots, and cilantro leaves. Does that make it more soup than cocktail? "If you put a Bloody Mary in a bowl, wouldn’t it be like gazpacho almost?" questioned Melendrez. "I’m just trying to change people’s perceptions about what a cocktail possibly could be."
Melendrez's initial inspiration came from a book he read about ancient elixirs and medicinal cocktails, which mentioned that mountain men had spiked their lamb stew with scotch for an extra kick to stay warm. Add to this that Melendrez’s girlfriend is a dietician and the two drink bone broth daily.
Because "From Kitchen With Love" is more labor-intensive to prep, the pricey intoxicant is on Pistola's secret menu, meaning it's not printed on the actual bill of fare or cocktail list. Word of mouth only. And, going forward, Melendrez plans to continue exploring other broth/soup pairings with different spirits. He also hopes to launch a one night only soup cocktail menu possibly in March.