Beef consomme and vodka recipe
Served hot from a flask or with ice, the meaty bullshot is long overdue a revival
This classic mix of beef consomme and vodka has managed to acquire an undeservedly tweedy reputation in Britain. It is often drunk hot, poured from a Thermos on crisp winter walks – the steam rising and mingling with the cloudy breath of walkers holding out their cups for a dose.
But served over cracked ice after dark it is a more dangerous beast. Bullshot was probably invented in the 50s in the US, by someone with a twisted mind. Meat and alcohol. In a glass. With pepper. Oh yeah, and chilli.
It’s Marlon Brando in The Wild One. It’s Shane McGowan on an experimental day. In the early 70s, Malcolm McDowell drank it while publicising A Clockwork Orange. He “bundled in against the cold in a leather jacket,” recorded one journalist, “[on his face] the beginning of a smile that never quite finished, he sat down and ordered a bullshot – bouillon and vodka.”
I first had it in a dive bar on a snowy evening in New York in the late 80s – the first time I was ever alone there. As the vodka flush hit my cheeks, I was momentarily James Dean. And then I caught a glimpse in the back-bar mirror of a chubby English schoolboy with a fake ID holding his cigarette like a square.
Bullshot is best mixed with homemade broth, but don’t let this stop you – it still tastes great with consomme from a can. There are many variations. If you have it heated, I think it needs a little dry sherry in the mix to give it more body. Some people add orange juice, as well as lemon, to the mix.
I like it strong, cold and straight, with a lot of Worcestershire sauce, a good squeeze of lemon and a little more vodka than given in the recipe that follows.
Make your own bullshot
90ml beef consomme
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
A squeeze of lemon
1 Mix all the ingredients together, adding Tabasco and black pepper to taste.
2 Shake with cracked ice and strain into a highball glass with extra ice. This drink is supposed to be more boozy than a Bloody Mary but if you would prefer a slightly weaker version, simply add an extra 50ml of the consomme.