The Craft

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Savory is an uncommon flavor category across the cocktail cannon, but the genre includes a family of famous cocktails: the Bloody Mary, Caesar, Michelada and yes, the Dirty Martini. Yet, one of history’s most popular — however, unfamiliar libations in today’s world — is a mix of beef broth, vodka, Worcestershire, Tabasco and lemon juice. 

The Bullshot, the beefy relative to the Bloody Mary, is having a renaissance, popping up on bar menus worldwide. While new takes on the inimitable classic draw newcomers far and wide to satisfy their salty, often hungover cravings, the Bullshot has a rich yet overlooked history.

The History of the Inimitable Bullshot Cocktail

The Bullshot was invented at Detroit’s Caucus Club in 1952. Cocktail historian, David Wondrich, told PUNCH that the drink emerged with the help of John Hurley, an advertising executive at BBDO, who was a regular at the steakhouse in downtown Detroit. Apparently, Campbell’s Soup needed to increase sales of its canned beef bouillon and had hired Hurley and his firm to make it happen. 

At the same time, much like the birth of celebrity in post-war America, vodka had begun its historic march toward ruling nightlife culture and a wave of savory cocktails had taken over with the emergence of the Bloody Mary as a midday cure-all — it only made sense to combine beef broth with vodka as a savory alternative. 

Campbells_BeefBroth-e1586891723101A still from a vintage Campbell's Soup advertisement 

It quickly grew to become an instant hit, with the Detroit Free Press dubbing it “the latest luncheon cocktail fad.” As more and more celebrities frequented the Caucus Club, the cocktail’s popularity spread. By the 1960s, it was the drink of choice for many celebrities and with the help of Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup — and its beef bouillon — was immortalized in the public psyche. 

However, like most trends, it came to a slow, drawn-out end. The cocktail’s popularity tapered off as consumer taste and culture shifted. The 1980s and ‘90s brought a shift toward citrus and fruit-driven cocktails like the cosmopolitan and apple martini. But just like the adage, “what’s old is new again,” the cocktail reemerged from its cultural deathbed with a new wave of Detroit-based cocktail enthusiasts. After the reopening of the sputtered Caucus Club in 2017, then-manager, Mike Kregar, resurrected the beloved cocktail, inspiring others to follow suit with variations popping up across Detroit barrooms. 

Today, the cocktail is enjoying a healthy revival as bartenders, cocktail influencers and connoisseurs spread the news of the meaty yet refreshing cocktail’s once-forgotten past. Let’s take a look at some of the classic and modern Bullshot cocktail recipes that bartenders are shaking up.

Classic and Modern Bullshot Cocktail Recipes

(Original) Bullshot Cocktail

By the Caucus Club | Detroit
Recipe from PUNCH

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 3 ounces Campbell’s beef broth
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 3 dashes Tabasco sauce, or more to taste
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce, or more to taste
  • Garnish: celery stick, lemon wedge


DIRECTIONS

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, then shake until chilled.
  • Strain into a highball glass filled with ice.
  • Garnish with a celery stick and a lemon wedge.

New Bullshot

By Kris Cassidy, Mike Kreger | Detroit
Recipe from PUNCH

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ounces Moletto gin (Italian tomato gin)
  • 2 ounces steakhouse jus (or to taste, but heavy on the umami flavors)
  • 3/4 ounce Bloody Mary mix, preferably Brewt’s
  • Garnish: candied round pancetta


DIRECTIONS

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled.
  • Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
  • Garnish with candied pancetta.

Steaming Bullshot

By Joe Schubert | The Whiskey Parlor | Detroit
Recipe from PUNCH

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ounces rye-forward whiskey
  • 4 ounces hot bone broth or ramen broth
  • 4 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: celery salt or chile salt (to rim a mug), lemon twist


DIRECTIONS

  • Combine ingredients in an Irish Coffee mug rimmed with celery or chile salt.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist.

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