A Drink for the Bloodthirsty

A Drink for the Bloodthirsty

By Christine Ciarmello


Because this is what you can booze on tonight.

By Christine Ciarmello

When it comes to boozing, how adventurous are you? Are you a blood-in-your-tropical-cocktail brave? Me neither. Sopping up a pool of steak “juice” with a slice of sourdough is one thing. Drinking blood borders on lycanthropic or vampiric. Or Chicagoan. Which is where the new blood-based beverage named Werewolves of London is finding an audience.

Customers are apprehensive at first glance; one they try it, however, they find it ‘refreshing.’

— Jason Brown, bartender at Kinmont

Bartender Jason Brown is the man behind the seasonal tipple at Kinmont, a seafood and game restaurant that opened a few months ago. Brown notes that customers are apprehensive at first glance; once they try it, however, they find it “refreshing.”

The high minerality, the coppery hint of a penny, the iron finish. Each intoxicating glass contains gin, Pimm’s, house-made coconut syrup, pineapple juice … and about a jigger of pigs’ blood.

A half-ounce, though, goes far. First off, blood is pretty caloric, says vampirologist Theresa Bane. Good to know. “There is no nutritional value, and it is very fatty. Taken in large doses, it will make you physically sick,” says the author of Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythologywho also appears on Discovery Channel programs. “The human body cannot process it into energy. As a cultural rite of passage? Yes. Mixed with other ingredients? Yes. As a meal? No.”

As a small amount in a drink? Most def. Bane would put her $11 on the table if she were visiting Chicago. “I’m already a fan of black pudding.” That British oatmeal-and-pigs’-blood delicacy joins the group of other blood-infused treats such as blood tofu and fried blood. Blood is, in fact, something that other cultures stomach with more bravado than Americans. 

The reddish pink cocktail on a bar.

The Werewolves of London cocktail from Kinmont in Chicago

Source Kinmont Restaurant

As far as Brown knows — and a few uber-boozers and bartenders in the States have confirmed — blood hasn’t been used as an ingredient in a U.S.-made cocktail.

“There have been so many creative people in this profession,” Brown says. “Everyone has really pushed the envelope with flavor profiles. I asked myself, ‘What can I do?’ ”

Precisely three things led him to choose blood:

Fun Facts

  • When Brown lived in San Francisco, he would walk by a Chinatown storefront that sold coagulated blood cubes. “Ever since then, the idea has been rattling around in my head,” he says.
  • Brown’s favorite rock ballad, “Werewolves of London,” also rattles around in his head. In particular a Warren Zevon line provided Brown with rich imagery: “I saw a werewolf drinkin’ a pina colada at Trader Vic’s.
  • The vibe at Kinmont is very rustic hunting cabin — as in axes on the walls, vintage Field & Stream issues papering the bathroom and hanging lanterns. Let’s face it, Brown says, “hunting is a bloody endeavor.”

Vampirologist Bane says that if bloodthirsty creatures did roam the earth, it would be more accurate to use cows, as pigs weren’t domesticated when the myths (werewolf or vampire) were born. In any event, for those curious about the latter, vampires prefer “flesh, excrement and carrion … sometimes a samurai’s top knot,” she says.

Brown jokes, “I wasn’t out for pigs’ blood in particular. I don’t know if werewolves would prefer pigs … or unicorns.” Quite simply, Kinmont’s reputable pork purveyor in the Ozarks was able to offer pasteurized blood. After receiving the frozen jug, the kitchen pasteurizes it again. From there, it hits the bar.

Sorry, no recipe will follow. Off to Chicago with you, to drink a bloody good cocktail. And, as they say in An American Werewolf in London, “Beware the moon, lads …” (on Nov. 6, it’s full).