By Ben Bowers
on 10.18.12
Photo by Eric Yang

The Beef Council successfully hijacked America’s dinner plans in the early 90s with one simple phrase. Now, we’re executing a hostile takeover of your bar with just two simple words: “beef drinks”. Yeah, you heard us — that same intoxicating meat flavor that works wonders on your taste buds at mealtime is just as delicious in a liquid state. In some ways, it’s actually enhanced. Whether used on its own as a base or added to mainstays like a Bloody Mary for an extra kick in the steer, beef stock’s addition into your cocktail repertoire will push your brunches, tailgates and other drinking endeavors into a bold new chapter. We experimented with two classic beef-infused drinks, the Bull Shot and Bloody Bull, in our latest Month of Beef feature.

Find out what we discovered below.

Taking Stock of the Key Ingredient

Broth, bouillon or stock? Recipes often call for beef flavor in one of these specific three forms, so what’s the difference? The truth is, the cooking community doesn’t have a definitive answer. Some say the distinction in terms relates to the amount of salt content found in the brew. Some say it’s all about flavor concentration. Others argue it’s just labeling jargon designed to separate what’s store bought from what’s home made. A few factions believe they’re all the same thing.

Frankly, we could care less about nebulous vernacular; but to make a top-notch beef cocktail, capturing that rich, beef flavor in some kind of liquid form is key. Along those lines, home made beef stock will always outpace store-bought solutions. But if you’re like us and don’t have a full day to boil down your own, we’ve got a hack that makes tasty use of last night’s steak leftovers. Toss ‘em in a medium sauce pan with a quart of store-bought beef stock and a hefty dose of salt. Then, apply high heat until the mixture has reduced by at least half (this typically happens after about 30 minutes of cooking). Strain the remaining liquid, pass the boiled beef bits to your dog and toss the concentrate in the freezer to quickly chill if you’re looking to booze right away. Otherwise, allow the concentrate to reach room temperature at your leisure. This process yields potent beef flavor that’s perfect for the recipes below. Call it whatever the hell you want.

The Bull Shot

This classic has passed in and out of cocktail limelight for decades. It’s dead simple to make if you’ve got the aforementioned concentrate ready to go, and it’s perfect for those moments that call for more hair on your chest. Note: some recipes call for this beverage to be served hot. We prepared it cold, but could see the appeal of hitting a heated version during the winter.

Ingredients:

– 2 ounces vodka
– 1/4 fresh squeezed lemon juice
– 1/2-cup of cold beef concentrate
– 3 dashes of Tabasco (or mix to taste with other hot sauces)
– A dash of ground pepper
– A dash of cayenne pepper
– A dash of kosher salt

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with liberal amounts of ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

The Bloody Bull

This beef-infused Bloody Mary is so tasty its supplanted our old go-to brunch staple recipe. It adds more weight to a bloody’s already potent right jab.

Ingredients:

2 oz vodka
4 oz of V8 (we think the taste of vegetable juice makes an improved difference compared to straight tomato juice)
4 oz chilled beef concentrate
1 tsp of peeled and finely grated fresh horseradish (Fresh is ideal, but even horseradish sauce will work in a pinch. Just make sure it doesn’t contain cream or a diary derivative, which the acidic lemon juice will curdle.)
A pinch celery salt (kosher salt is an acceptable substitute)
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes of Tabasco Sauce (or other hot sauce)
A liberal sprinkle of ground pepper
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice

Instructions:

Combine the vodka, tomato juice, beef concentrate, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco Sauce, pepper, lemon juice, and celery salt in a shaker packed with ice. Strain over ice into a highball glass. Garnish with a celery stalk. If you’ve got a beef straw lying around to toss in, bonus points to you.