Cheese is one of the greatest foods out there. It goes with, and in, almost everything, from apple pie to chili dip to guava sherbet. Because there are so many different varieties of cheese that can pair with any number of flavors, it can squeeze its way into just about any aspect of your meal. We’ve even shown you straight-up drinkable cheese in the form of a delicious parmesan broth. And now, thanks to the innovations of some French chefs, we can even enjoy cheese in the form of a cocktail.
Let’s get ahead of the haters out there—it’s true that there are cheeses that should never touch your cocktail glass. Case in point: the Velveeta Martini (aka Veltini). We had the displeasure of tasting the neon-orange marketing gimmick during its limited release last month. Here’s what contributor Shaan Merchant had to say about the cocktail:
My first couple of sips were surprisingly unremarkable. The intense flavors of olive brine and cold vodka overpowered all else. But as the cocktail sat, warming up, and my tastebuds let down their defenses, I was suddenly assailed by the distinct but transmogrified flavors of processed cheese product.
The fat content of cheese is something that needs to be taken into consideration when infusing cocktails. What Shaan discovered was that he was left with a strange, creamy vodka that had cheese product chunks floating around in it by the end of the glass, a less than appetizing image.
Le Syndicat in Paris is one of the many bars in France offering cocktails that feature the country’s famous cheeses, Food & Wine reports. The cocktail Gettin’ Milky with Nut is composed of Roquefort, curry, gin, milk, and walnut vinegar. Another drink, the G.O.A.T., features a blend of arugula, cucumber, gin, and myrtle l’eau de vie, topped with a goat cheese mousse.
Thibault Massina, creative director of Le Syndicat, tells Food & Wine that clarified milk punch is the key to many of the bar’s cheese-forward cocktails. The process of creating clarified milk involves infusing milk (or milk products like cheese) to a spirit mix that also contains a citric acid, which causes the curds and whey to separate. That allows them to be strained out, resulting in a silky smooth cheese-infused liquor. This process also cuts back on some of the funk exuded from certain cheeses, slightly mellowing out the final product.
If you want to go a simpler route, consider using a hard cheese like parmesan or asiago as a garnish on a cocktail—either one could be ground or shredded and used as a savory rim without compromising the chemistry of the liquid itself. Throw bleu cheese olives into drinks other than your martini. Consider the Bloody Mary, which is often served with a cheese stick plopped right in. Not every cheese cocktail has to be fancy. Just be sure to avoid Velveeta at all costs.