How Mushrooms Can Elevate Cocktails

Fancy a Mushroom Martini? What about a Mushroom Manhattan? The spore-bearing fungus could soon be gracing your next cocktail. A seemingly unlikely ingredient, Monterey Mushrooms reports that it is trending amongst mixologists — whether it's a gamey maitake, woodsy morel, smoky trumpet, or fruity chanterelle, it has the power to elevate any cocktail.

While every variety is different, Cook's Illustrated notes that most fungi tend to have a springy texture with vaguely sweet and earthy aromas. As for flavor, mushrooms are best recognized for their umami richness that bursts with a robust savory and mildly salty profile. Depending on the variety, they can also have a woodsy, nutty, or meaty flavor — which can be an especially intriguing aspect when crafting cocktails.

Savory cocktails like the dirty martini or spicy michelada have long been part of the bartender's repertoire, but still, Wine Enthusiast explains that the recent appeal of these salty and zesty beverages mirrors a culinary trend towards umami-laden dishes. That said, Punch outlines that experimenting with ingredients and techniques can impart an unexpected dimension of flavor thanks to additions like mole bitters, hoppy beer syrups, or sourdough tinctures. So, how exactly do mushrooms fit into the equation?

Mushrooms intensify flavors with their umami profile

In general, pairing ingredients can be done successfully by matching congruent or contrasting flavor compounds, either complimenting or balancing our perception of taste. As a result, meaty and umami-forward mushrooms can pair well with equally woodsy or herbaceous flavors or contrast with warmer spices and fruitier profiles (via Glass of Bubbly).

As far as matching mushrooms with spirits, different liquors can also affect the pungency of the fungi. For instance, Mandatory explains that the subtlety of vodka allows mushrooms to shine, whereas a toasty whiskey turns them into a delicate accent, making for a more interesting sip. As for herbaceous gins or nutty cognacs, mushrooms can also meet their match through unique variety additions.

According to Thrillist, you can work this unusual ingredient into savory craft cocktails by washing liquor with truffles to create earthy infusions or employing the use of tinctures, syrups, and umami-focused bitters. Pickled, roasted, candied, or dehydrated fungi can also add a wow factor to cocktails when used as an eye-catching and texturally-pleasant garnish.