This tastes different I thought, as I sipped my second drink. I am drinking celery—celery soup, I questioned, but at the same time, it was a craft cocktail.
It did taste like I was drinking chilled cocktail soup because I was.
And, as disgusting as that sounds, it was quite good.
The “Aquavit Blend” included Progresso Vegetable Stock, a Traditional Caraway Norse Spirit, Housemade Celery Syrup, and Lemon.
Progresso introduced its new line of stocks this past weekend at Chicago Gourmet, a Bon Appetit Magazine event in Millennium Park that promotes the fine wine and food community in Chicago.
Before the big unveil, PR company, Ketchum brainstormed with its client, Progresso to create stock cocktails. Ketchum approached one of the best cocktail bars in Chicago, Violet Hour, to debut Progresso chicken stock and vegetable stock in cocktail form.
Violet Hour’s Mixologist:
Aubrey Howard, Violet Hour’s mixologist for the past five years, is talented. She has a pronounced history of mixing and creating delicious and wildly inventive cocktails.
“I grew up in Kentucky,” Howard smiled, where her acquired taste for alcohol began.
Her true love and practice grew when Howard traveled to Eastern Europe, where she learned that everyone distilled and infused their own spirits.
Likewise, she began to distill and infuse her own. She has since bought her own pot still and created cocktails from horse feed among other things.
Creative, cultured, and most of all gracious, Howard served her stock cocktails and spoke with bloggers and foodies about her techniques and her inspirations.
“It’s a creative challenge,” Howard said about working with stocks, “That salinity. That warmth. That depth.”
After weeks of prepping and tasting, Howard, created three cocktails.
I was drinking my dinner.
I looked up at the creamsicle blend in the lightly lit back room. It had protein. It had dessert. To specify, the gin-based cocktail had eggs, chicken stock, and cherry. Other ingredients included lemon and grapefruit bitters and Lemon Oleo Sacrum. And it turned out smooth and delicious.
While experimenting with stocks, Howard was concerned about the salinity. She reduced the chicken broth by half. To her surprise, she added salt to the “Summer Time Flip” cocktail.
“I added cherry to the drink tonight,” said Howard.
The other cocktail, the Bloody Mary, tasted like a spicy strawberry Moscow Mule. Rather than a regular tomato juice-based Bloody Mary,Violet Hour’s Progresso Stock Cocktail had delicious Sriracha with Muddle Strawberry. It had Tequila, Mescal, Progresso Vegetable Stock, Lime, a Reduction Syrup, and was garnished with a cucumber.
As the night drew to a close, we all raised a Bloody Mary and took to SnapChat and Instagram to report our favorite brunch-time treat turned evening sophisticate.
Chef Michael Braden, who has worked with General Mills for 15 years, spoke about the quality of stocks.
“Great stock uses real bones. As you reduce stock, it thickens, and you concentrate the flavor.”
The best part about reducing stock it that the richness allows for more flavor without adding in starches like flour. “It’s a cleaner taste,” Chef Braden added.
Savory Cocktails Get Meaty:
Bars across America are pushing the limits with stock based and meat based cocktails. “Drinking in America” reported in 2015 that Dallas’ Midnight Rambler has a drink called “Pho-King Champ”, which is made with vodka, sherry, lime juice, spices, Sriracha, and beef broth, as well as Pistola in L.A., which debuted a so-called “soup cocktail” with lamb broth and scotch.
When I asked Violet Hour if they were going to incorporate it into the menu, they said, “This is just for tonight. Drink as much as you want.”