By the nature of its format, the long drink—tall, iced and often sparkling—is the image of summer refreshment. This notion is only reinforced by the bright, citrusy drinks that typically fall into this category—that is, your Palomas, Gin & Tonics, Dark ’n’ Stormys and so forth. But, by turning to the earthy, umami side of the flavor spectrum, these same formulas can carry over across the seasons, becoming complex, contemplative drinks with the same craveability as their warm-weather counterparts.
Meaghan Dorman’s Dove Dispatch, for example, recalls a Paloma in its tequila-grapefruit combo, but bell pepper simple syrup and a chile-salt rim flecked with smoked paprika add a vegetal undertone to the classic summer cooler. Similar green, vegetal flavors come courtesy of celery in both Leo Robitschek’s Ma Cherie and Jeremy Oertel’s Watership Down. In the former, freshly muddled celery and dry, slightly savory fino sherry combine with green Chartreuse, falernum and a pop of lime juice; in the latter, a dash of celery shrub adds a grassy finish to the ginger-laced gin cocktail.
Elsewhere, umami depth is created by the addition of miso. Such is the case in the aptly named Miso Dark ’n’ Stormy, a savory, low-proof sparkling cocktail comprising shochu, yuzu, Cynar and a simple miso syrup from New York’s Tokyo Record Bar. Parker Luthman’s Miso Express, meanwhile, riffs on the Japanese-born Spumoni in his combination of gin, Campari, grapefruit juice and miso-ginger syrup, which he notes adds “a really strong umami finish as well as a hint of saltiness.”
But it’s Masa Urushido’s Tsukiji Highball that demonstrates the transformative power of an unexpected savory hit. A simple Scotch & Soda on the surface, the austere combination packs an umami punch courtesy of a bonito flake infusion in the single malt Scotch. In lieu of a garnish, the rim of the glass is painted with a blend of tamari and soy sauce, proving that sometimes savory is better than sweet.