It was one of those cocktail microtrends that seemed somehow dated and irritating within days after I first learned about it — even while it sounded kind of alluring. The bone luge phenomenon, in which you pour yourself a shot of liquor down a bone halved lengthwise, showed up on cocktail blogs about a year ago. By January, foodies were annoyed: Time Out New York‘s Jordana Rothman was tweeting that it needed to be stopped, Gothamist called it “The New Drinking Fad Food Writers Love To Hate”, and the Huffington Post was asking if it was a “A Food Trend Gone Wrong”. It began about two years ago, and like many cocktail trends, it may have originated in Portland, Oregon.
It gave people the same sort of instant cocktail/bar culture insider credibility that the Pickle Back lent. For me, and I think for many other cocktail aficionados, the source of irritation was not the ridiculousness of it so much as the abandon with which people adopted the trend and spread it on social media with lusty photos of cow bones tipped toward their eager maws.
I’d never tried it. I wasn’t going to bars that offered it and I didn’t really want to seek it out. I imagined it would be expensive. But as I scraped marrow onto a piece of toast at a restaurant recently, I found myself wishing for a whiskey to sip, something to cut the fat of the marrow. It was starting to make sense. So, realizing I had an opportunity, I brought a couple of big marrow bones home in a doggy bag.
I set out three whiskeys and my bones on the kitchen counter, starting with Evan Williams Black Label, a very cheap but surprisingly good bourbon and moving on to Evan Williams Single Barrel (2002). Scotch didn’t sound good until I spotted High West’s Campfire in my liquor cabinet, a blend of bourbon, rye, and peated scotch.
And you know, it wasn’t bad. But its success as a cocktail trend isn’t just because it’s good. It comes from its theatricality. Putting some marrow in the appetizer section of a cocktail menu would never get this sort of response. And yet that’s how I’d rather do it. At least give me a shot glass fashioned from the end of a bone so it’s easier to sip and savor. But a foot-long bone trough as a liquor delivery chute? It’s like the beer bong guys grew up and got money.