By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Mar 29, 2016 at 11:01 AM

"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee is back for another round, brought to you by Great Northern Distilling: grain to glass spirits, handmade in Wisconsin. The whole month of March, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars readers poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Culinary trends come and go. But one that’s back with a vengeance is that of bone broth.

With a growing reputation for its "restorative" properties, bone broth is a long cooking stock made primarily from bones, which are typically roasted and then simmered for sometimes a day or more. The slow cooking process helps to break down the bones, releasing nutrients and minerals that are easily absorbed into the body.

Although bone-based broth is a traditional food, which dates back to the beginnings of carnivorous eating, the popularity of bone broth has been boosted in recent years, largely due to its popularity among health-conscious eaters and those observing the paleo diet. In fact, these days you’ll find bone broth in a variety of places, from home kitchens to area restaurants.

In some cases, you can even find bone broth making its way into cocktails. I know it sounds a little crazy, but hear me out.

The concept isn’t exactly new. In fact, the first bone broth cocktail is widely thought to be the "bullshot," a Bloody Mary made with beef broth which originated in the 1950s, but slowly faded into obscurity alongside dishes like intricate jello molds and aspics.

But bartenders across the nation are taking up the charge and creating their own takes on the bone broth elixer. At GreenRiver in Chicago, you can sip on The Peace Frog. At San Francisco’s Belcampo Meat Co. you can start your weekend with the Boney Mary. And at the Bookstore Bar & Cafe in Seattle, you can enjoy a cocktail aptly named "Take Stock."

There’s even a bone broth cocktail here in Milwaukee. Just head over to Easy Tyger at 1230 E. Brady St., and order the Stock & Barrel.

The Stock & Barrel

"What we’re doing is pretty simple," says general manager Todd Hasselbacher. "Sous chef Vinny [Cornils] brought it up to me when we were initially brainstorming what to do do with our cocktail program. And I just really liked the idea of a challenge."

Hasselbacher says he began by looking at the cocktail the way a chef might – trying to balance the elements of sweet, savory and salty.

"We start off with the pork stock that accompanies the tonkatsu on the menu," he says. "It’s really important to start with a great stock that has beautiful, full flavors. From there, it’s about finding flavors that complement the pork flavor, along with the lemongrass and allspice elements."

Gin adds botanical depth, while housemade ginger syrup adds sweetness. Orange and lemon juice bring fruitiness and a bit of acid, while aged rice vinegar pulls in some astringency.

"There are a lot of Asian flavors," notes Hasselbacher, "so we also use Seven Spearsmen sake – which has these woodsy, earthy notes – and we garnish with shiso, a pungent herb that reinforces the herbal qualities. It’s also a beautiful addition, offering a bit of purple to float in the glass."

The cocktail is served slightly warm – just above body temperature – but not hot enough to release the alcohol. In fact, to keep the cocktail warm, the ingredients are built in a hot water bath and added to a warmed glass for serving.

Why bone broth?

In some ways, Hasselbacher says, the idea of a bone broth cocktail was a natural for Easy Tyger.

"For us, it’s really about marrying the kitchen and the bar," he says. "With all of our beverages, we are really intentionally matching flavors at the bar with those that are coming out of the kitchen. And this is no exception."

He says the most obvious pairing for the Stock & Barrel is the pork tonkatsu. But it could also work as an apertif or with dishes like scallops, which pair well with the subtle orange flavor in the drink.

The cocktail, he says, has gone over fairly well. It’s been popular enough, he says, that he’s been working on another cocktail made with a chicken stock and coconut base.

"I’m trying to marry it with bourbon and grapefruit," he says. "We’ll see where it goes."

As for the Stock & Barrel, Hasselbacher says the cocktail appeals to people who are willing to leave their comfort zones.

"It’s for the adventurous," he says. "It’s definitely a good match for people who’ve tried them in other cities, or really just for someone who wants to try something new."

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.