Why Bartenders are Saying – Pass the Gravy””

When I wrote about virtual reality in staff training last week, I didn’t realize it would be my first article speaking to KFC’s innovations. Yet here we are again, with the fast-food juggernaut’s latest attempt to stay current: gravy cocktails (bolded and italicized to emphasis how brilliant/terrifying this is).

Now before you run (don’t walk!) to your nearest KFC to grab a fatty Manhattan, these cocktails are thus far do-it-yourself. But all you need is a tub of — you guessed it — gravy and some alcohol to create the Finger Lickin’ Sour, Southern Twist, or Gravy Mary, recipes thankfully provided by the chain itself.

You can find the recipes and marketing manager Marion Racine’s reasoning for said cocktails in the Independent, “We know our gravy is good enough to drink – so with stocktails being a real hit at the moment, what better ingredient to take them to the next level?”

This is such an unabashed marketing ploy I feel a little dirty even writing about it, but Racine’s mention of “stocktails” is worth analysis. Following the recent craft cocktail boom, many are looking for new, interesting ways to (literally) shake things up.

Or more specifically, bone broth, the latest health craze that has people purchasing powders and cartons of the stuff. In case you were wondering, bone broth is exactly what it sounds like: water stewed with bones, like that leftover chicken carcass, thereby absorbing all the umami goodness. Something that has been around, well, forever.

If you want a quick, wholesome, and thorough summary of bone broth, look no further than famed North Carolina chef Vivian Howard’s piece for CBS Sunday Morning. She describes how nearly every society has a broth ordained with sacred, healing properties. Before decrying the whole institution as a human farce, she stews some potlikker — a Southern delicacy made from the remnants of cooked collards or beans — and revels in its comforting power.

Why not throw it in with some bourbon and call it a day? That’s what bartender Aaron Joseph did when he created the Savory Moments cocktail. Woodford Reserve, Tiki bitters, cinnamon-vermouth, apple — poured over a mushroom ice sphere — make this sound like a multi-dimensional, delicious concoction. Other unique cocktails on this list demonstrate the versatility of broth (or even a thin gravy) in favorite libations.

If looking to expand your cocktail menu with some savory liquid, I’d suggest starting with something we already pair with cheese and bacon: the Bloody Mary. As an added bonus, very little needs changing with an original recipe — worcester sauce, black pepper, and celery already taste great with some beef broth — so just gather the staff around and taste test to see which ratios work best. To compliment the flavor even further, I highly suggest tossing in a healthy dose of Tabasco or another hot sauce.

While KFC’s gravy cocktails may be a thinly-veiled attempt to get industry writers (like me) to talk about their business, don’t let the premise deter you from creating or trying a “stocktail.” Who needs another sickly-sweet gimlet when an Old Fashioned promises a hint of mom’s home-cooking?

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