Greater collaboration between the kitchen and bar has resulted in all sorts of interesting food-booze mashups in recent years. See: Ibérico-infused mezcal and Fernet Branca-spiked salami, for example. But, at Chicago’s Kinmont, bartender Jason Brown has taken the culinary-cocktail crossover to another level with one ingredient, in particular: pig’s blood.
For The Werewolves of London, Brown combines the rich swine life fluid with Bombay Dry Gin, Pimm’s No. 1, house-made coconut syrup and fresh-squeezed pineapple juice. The blended ingredients are then lightly shaken and strained into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice and garnished with a pineapple leaf. While the vibrant red color is credited to a generous half-ounce of the porky plasma, the cocktail’s flavor profile takes a strong cue from a piña colada — the drink referenced in Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” — which partially inspired Brown’s own bloody concoction.
OK, so what the hell is going on here?
If it isn’t obvious, the prep for this cocktail is labor intensive. The blood, which the team sources from Missouri-based Ozark Mountain Pork Creative, is put through a second pasteurization cycle onsite before service. “Once I got the cocktail dialed in — how we were going to make the house coconut syrup and the freshness of pineapples coming in that day — there wasn’t a lot of tweaking around with it,” Brown explains. “The blood was really the most consistent ingredient in the cocktail.”
It’s this approachability that Brown credits for the ingredient’s prevalence in cultures worldwide. The blood is used for charcuterie and sausage making in Europe, and as a thickening agent in soups and various dishes in Asian cultures. Brown describes his own aha moment as a chance encounter in an ethnic neighborhood. “When I was working in San Francisco, I walked by a store in Chinatown that was selling cubes of coagulated pig’s blood,” he recalls. “I was like, ‘That’s brilliant! One of these days, I’m going to work with blood for a cocktail.’”
A few weeks ago, that day finally arrived. Brown, who has worked his way through bars in San Francisco and Boston, was at Kinmont brainstorming ways that he and his team could continue to push the envelope for the drinks program. And while the “wow” factor still prevails (it beat out all of the other cocktails on the night of its debut), Brown reassures us that his intention for the libation is firmly rooted in the same process that’s behind all of his cocktails: balance. “We’re choosing an ingredient to enhance the drink, not to outshine any of the others that are in the glass,” he explains. “It has botanical driven aspects from the gin and the Pimm’s, and it has a brilliant finish on it with really interesting minerality. And, that’s due to the utilization of blood.”
Read more about inventive cocktails on Food Republic: