Avast, dear wanderer, and welcome back to the one-stop shop for all your cocktail and spirit related questions and wonderings, The Bartender’s Blog! As your humble servant, I have been tripping the light fantastic and attempting to unearth the next irresistible topic of delight to treat the senses. Allow your eyes to soak in the wonder, and use that feeling and parlay it into a multi-sensory crisis (as my old chess partner D.H Lawrence would say) as I take you on a path that is not often trodden, but those who brave it are rewarded with drinks that do everything a human (and some inhumans) could ask for! Some call it the nectar of life, some call it White Superior, and some simply call it lactate, as this week, we look at mixes that incorporate that most ubiquitous of liquids – milk!
The first thing to consider when using milk is that it is there for a reason. Milk is not simply used to calm the stomach ulcers of haggard old mob bosses who have killed more men than they’ve had hot meals. The great Al Capone, before he was filled with more holes than a decent-sized block of Swiss Cheese told me, “It’s all about the viscosity, not about the velocity”. Coming from a man who used speed to his advantage, these are wise words, and in the world of milk-based cocktails, it means this. Though after passing your lips, it might spend a lifetime on your hips, using whole milk is the fundamental basis for all milk-based drinks. However, if you really want to make that Russian whiter than an albino in a Dan Brown book, or that Justice paler than the friendliest of ghosts, you have to mix that whole milk roughly 50/50 with double cream. I assure you that not only was Casper not a friendly boy at all, but a vandal who got exactly what was coming to him, but ensuring this heady mix is in place before making anything will ensure that everything is just that little bit thicker and tastier, and will really drive home the advantages of making your drinks creamier than the voices of the Channel 4 Evening News Team. Stay classy, because here is our first drink, The Pale Justice!
25ml Coconut Infused Rum
12.5ml Crème de Menthe
12ml Crème de Cacao
100ml 50/50 (Whole Milk/Double Cream)
Add the ingredients, starting with the smallest first. Add cubed ice, give it the old 25 shake-a-roos, and strain it over crushed ice in a glass that is more hurricane than Katrina and all of her Waves. Add a slapped mint sprig as a garnish, flick on the old blowtorch and dust some cocoa powder over the flame (which should be over the glass.) A chocolatey fireball will erupt, beautifully coating the top of your milky sensation with the kind of flamed skin that would make old custard trudge off into a corner and weep. Enjoy.
This bad boy is pretty special, and is great for all occasions. Be warned – sample this on a stag do and you will wake up with either no eyebrows or something unspeakable done to your nether regions. Elton John did awful things to me before he married his first wife. I’m not sure who he was kidding marrying her, but he certainly wasn’t messing around when I was perfectly hairless the next day.
When I traverse from place to place, and meet characters who would make Monty Python seem straight-laced, many of them remark at my mention of milk-based drinks, “The Dude! The Big Lebowski!” Now, as an investor in that film, I can tell you, fair reader, that it made absolutely no money, and hardly anyone went to see it. Why therefore, it has permeated the zeitgeist in such a way I’ll never know. All I know is that the way His Dudeness makes his signature drink on screen is very lazy, and not how Mr. Bridges likes it at all. He likes his White Russians just like this:
25ml Kahlua (very important to use this)
This drink is like the game of Minesweeper on a Windows 95 computer. Easy to learn, difficult to master. Take a nice lowball glass, and fill it 4/5ths full of crushed ice. Drizzle the Kahlua over this ice, as it will make the colour (and the Yin/Yang-esque duality of the drink, and existence) contrast wonderfully. Throw the vodka and 50/50 into a Boston glass, add cubed ice and give it a solid 25 shakes. Milk-based drinks require much harder shaking to ensure the correct dilution, so pretend you’re one of those paint-mixing machines from a 1950’s hardware store. Before you can say, “Matt or Gloss?”, strain everything over the black abyss in the glass. As above, create an ignition of cocoa powder over the top and enjoy. You might not be doing it like The Dude, but you will be doing it like a man.
If that was for the gents, this is for the senoritas. Anyone can enjoy these drinks, but if you want to slide into paradise whilst sitting in a bar, this must be the drink for you. When The Beatles sang about strawberry fields, it had nothing to do with a Salvation Army house (which, incidentally, grew cherries), but was all about sampling a drink in a field by my hand which made them want to stay in that meadow, with my strawberry drink, forever. It really is that divine. It is also one of the finest examples of the almost alchemistic nature of mixology. This is a drink whose composite ingredients taste nothing like the finished product, and you’ll be thanking your lucky stars for that fact. Paul Coelho did, then he wrote a book about it.
Strawberries and Cream
25ml Irish Cream
20ml Southern Comfort
5ml Sirop de Fraise
5ml Vanilla Syrup
Grab that fresh fruit and hurl it into a Boston glass, give it a good muddle, and add all the other ingredients. Get hold of a Martini glass, shake everything 25 times hard, and double strain into the glass. This straight up spectacular looks best with a sliver of fresh strawberry delicately floating in the finished product. Make. Drink. Orgasm. Thank God.
After you’ve stopped gasping over the litany of deliciousness that’s before you, give these little buggers a go. You will not be disappointed, you will not be disheartened. On a serious note, using milk in drinks really does show the versatility that making drinks allows you to exhibit. Cocktails are my life, and they are like any great relationship – constantly exciting, with opportunities for developing as a person and, when you put in the work, more rewarding than you could possibly imagine. I would be delighted to take any requests for future ramblings, as I want to fuel an interest for these drinks in you, fair reader. Catch you on the flip side!