The New Player in the Savory Cocktail Trend

Introducing “The Sheepish Grin” featuring Pecorino Romano PDO

All around the country, bars and restaurants are embracing the trend of hyper-savory cocktails, experimenting with ingredients that venture beyond the traditional sweet-sour-fruity-herbal cocktail palate to land a distinct umami punch. From the iconic MSG Martini at Bonnie’s (MSG, The Botanist gin, Castelvetrano olive brine, and Shaoxing wine) to the Cold Pizza at Double Chicken Please (Don Fulano Blanco Tequila, Parmigiano Reggiano, burnt toast, tomato, basil, honey, and egg white), mixologists are cheerfully overstepping the boundary between kitchen and bar.

Of all the savory ingredients (olives, walnuts, and wild mushrooms, to name a few) currently being mined in New York City bars—not to mention those appearing in viral cocktail posts on TikTok (i.e. mozzarella water, Parmigiano Reggiano, miso, pesto)—none provide the complete spectrum of flavors that Pecorino Romano PDO delivers. There’s its inherent nuttiness and tang, factors of the cheese’s age and its origin in ewe’s milk, but also, Pecorino Romano PDO rivals both MSG and wild mushrooms in umami. Then, there is its craveable saltiness. During production, wheels of Pecorino Romano PDO are both brined in saltwater and dry-salted several times, resulting in the cheese’s compelling, sparkling saltiness. On cheese boards, Pecorino Romano’s salt and general intensity make it a perfect complement to sweet and acidic flavors: fresh pears, honey, dried fruits, quince paste, and preserves. Its diversity of complements also makes Pecorino Romano PDO an intriguing ingredient in drinks.

Says Edible Manhattan’s drink columnist, Clark Moore, of Pecorino Romano PDO, “Umami is the most spot-on descriptor.” He continues, “I don’t believe anyone wants a cocktail that simply tastes like cheese, but there’s a reason wine and cheese are paired with each other: fruit and savory flavors complement each other. No cheese plate comes without some kind of fruit or compote or what-have-you.”

In his quaffable ode to Pecorino Romano PDO, Moore plays on the name “Pecorino,” which, in this country, is often confused with the word “piccante” (Italian for “spicy, hot, piquant, racy”). While Pecorino Romano PDO is all those things, the name Pecorino is derived from “pecora,” the Italian word for sheep from whose milk the cheese is made. In his cocktail, Moore pairs Pecorino Romano PDO with Pecorino wine, so named because sheep were regularly driven through (and grazed upon) the Abruzzi hills where the wine’s eponymous grapes grow. Moore reduces Pecorino wine, Pecorino Romano PDO, star anise, and fresh apple juice into a light syrup. He adds that to Calvados, the apple-based brandy from Normandy. After stirring with ice, he pours the mixture into an Old Fashioned glass over a single, large, clear ice cube, and finishes by floating a fragrant star anise pod on top. The result is a perfect companion for a cheese board, or an excellent way to start your next celebratory meal.

The Sheepish Grin

A Cocktail for When You’re Feeling Pec-ish


By Clark Moore

There’s no more natural pairing for cheese than wine. So, when considering a cocktail featuring Pecorino Romano PDO, my first thought was to incorporate wine into the mix. And it just so happens that a classic accompaniment for Pecorino Romano is … well, Pecorino—the wine. Pecorino wine is prized for both its fruitiness and acidity, so reducing this, along with some aged Pecorino Romano PDO cheese—as one would do in a soup—yielded a brightly sweet, savory, and textured syrup. I also added some freshly juiced Cosmic Crisp apples because what self-respecting cheese board doesn’t come with fruit? Stirred into a base of Calvados (French apple-brandy), the result is a dynamic and umami-rich cocktail. An ideal drink for when you’re feeling pec-ish!



2 ounces Calvados
¾ ounce Double Pecorino-Apple Reduction*
1 scant drop Dashfire Spiced Apple Bitters
1 star anise pod for garnish


Combine ingredients into a stirring vessel. Add ice and stir until chilled and dilute. Pour into an Old Fashioned glass with one large, clear ice cube. Garnish with a star anise pod atop the ice.



1 cup Pecorino wine
1 cup apple juice (freshly juiced—I used Cosmic Crisp, but any tart, fruity apple will suffice)
2 cups cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon citric acid
1 ½ ounces of aged Pecorino Romano PDO
1 star anise pod


In a small pot over low heat, combine wine, apple juice and sugar into a pot. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then add the Pecorino Romano PDO and star anise pod. Continue to simmer and reduce over low heat for one hour. Allow the mixture to cool until just warm, then add the salt and citric acid and stir to dissolve. When fully cool, transfer the syrup to a sealable container and refrigerate. After a few hours, strain the syrup through a cheese cloth to remove the solids. Discard the solids, then refrigerate the reduction until needed.

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