Although it’s not terribly in style in right this moment’s cocktail zeitgeist, dairy has been a significant power within the historical past of American drinks for over two centuries. From old style classics like eggnog, the Tom & Jerry and New Orleans–fashion milk punch to Twentieth-century drinks like Alexanders and Grasshoppers, milk and cream have lengthy had a foothold in cocktail tradition—even throughout the tropical style.
In accordance with Garret Richard and Ben Schaffer’s new ebook, Tropical Customary: Cocktail Strategies and Reinvented Recipes, tiki bars provided dairy- and chocolate-filled tropical dessert drinks as a ultimate course, meant to counteract the slew of citrus-forward cocktails that visitors would eat first. Trad’r Sam in San Francisco served a Banana Cow (rum, brandy, Bénédictine, banana and cream) as early because the late Nineteen Thirties), and Dealer Vic printed a variation with out brandy and Bénédictine, and with milk instead of cream, in his 1972 Bartender’s Information. In the meantime, globetrotting author Charles H. Baker Jr. recorded Pineapple Milk, or Leche Preparada Piña, as a concoction of brandy or rum, milk, pineapple, vanilla and sugar, in his 1939 Gentleman’s Companion. And, by 1941, Don the Beachcomber was providing his Rum Cow to patrons at his Los Angeles bar, the place it was featured within the “later,” or postprandial, part of the menu.
The little-known drink has lengthy been a fascination for Jelani Johnson, previously of Clover Membership and Gage & Tollner, and now head bartender at Le Coucou. He initially encountered the Rum Cow in his examine of tiki classics and, although he was skeptical of the straightforward combination of rum, milk and sugar, he gave it a shot. To his delight, it labored, and greater than a decade later, he’s nonetheless advocating for the cocktail.
As his affection for the Rum Cow grew, Johnson experimented with including extra complexity by splitting the rum and sugar parts and including bitters. Throughout his tenure at Clover Membership, he served a maximalist, nine-ingredient model of the drink that featured 4 rums, vanilla and cinnamon syrups and two varieties of bitters.
These days, Johnson has come round to the concept the allure of the Rum Cow lies in its elemental nature. “You gotta play with it to understand that the unique is the very best,” he says. He’s pared it down to a single rum, milk, easy syrup and a splash of Angostura bitters with freshly grated nutmeg on high. His addition of bitters, he says, enhances the spice flavors within the rum and goes properly with the nutmeg garnish.
For the rum, Johnson favors barrel-aged Jamaican rums, as long as they’re not aggressively funky. At Gage & Tollner, he used Denizen Service provider’s Reserve, although he additionally suggests aged expressions from Appleton Property or Plantation. That stated, he’s additionally keen on Smith & Cross, a selection he says is “a little bit unhinged” due to the rum’s 57 p.c ABV, however scrumptious. Generally, Johnson finds the Rum Cow to be an inviting entrée into the world of heavier, extra advanced rums that may in any other case intimidate these new to the spirit.
However the milk portion is much less versatile. The standard of the milk is essential to the success of the drink; Johnson says that complete milk is a should, as reduced-fat milk is much too watery for this utility. And although he’s experimented with options like almond milk, nothing has come near the creaminess of full-fat dairy. To the combo of milk and rum, he provides easy syrup to sweeten the drink with out including distracting flavors, and nutmeg finds a pure residence right here, because it usually completes dairy-laced drinks.
As for the presentation, Johnson gives two choices. The primary is basic and Alexanderesque, served up in a coupe. Alternatively, the Rum Cow will be served in a wine glass or milkshake glass over ice, with the choice of including a little bit whipped cream on high. The latter presentation, he says, channels the soda fountain affect within the work of Donn Seashore. “He undoubtedly took inspiration from the soda fountain, which is one among his hallmarks that isn’t actually talked about a lot,” Johnson notes. Seashore, in spite of everything, began serving drinks within the early years following Prohibition, throughout which dry areas like soda fountains had an outsize affect on the American palate.
Although Johnson says that visitors want a little bit convincing to attempt the Rum Cow, their reactions to the drink are overwhelmingly constructive; it’s candy with out being cloying and goes properly with quite a lot of desserts. He favors the Rum Cow as an after-dinner bartender’s selection, honoring the oft-forgotten legacy of tropical dessert drinks. And there’s one thing immensely interesting about its eye-catching look, which instantly begins a dialog between bar patrons, who usually find yourself ordering one for themselves. “It form of sells itself as soon as it’s on the bar,” Johnson says. “Everyone desires to attempt it.”