Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Milking It For All Its Worth: Duggan McDonnell Brings Milk Cocktails Home for the Holidays

It is the holiday season and what comes to mind but seasonal cocktails? Duggan McDonnell, the owner and bartender at Cantina in San Francisco, came to Los Angeles last week to share some festive cocktail recipes and demonstrate how to make them, but he had a twist: all the cocktails included milk. Now if you think milk is best left to be mixed with Fruit Loops, McDonnell is ready to throw you for a loop of a different kind.

The event at Bar Lubitsch was sponsored by the Got Milk? campaign, hence the secret ingredient.  Duggan shared some of his favorite milk cocktail recipes and Fiona from Gourmet Pigs and I got to make one of the cocktails together.  The blender was leaking and we made a bit of a mess, but had fun. As to the drinks themselves, they were a mixed bag, some were tasty and some not so much.

My favorites among Duggan's recipes from the event were:

Caribbean Milk Punch (serves 8)

1 quart of milk
1 cup of spiced rum
¾ cup agave syrup
Cinnamon powder to taste
Nutmeg powder to taste

Whisk thoroughly in a punch bowl until all of the ingredients are thoroughly integrated
Add ice
Dust either with cinnamon or nutmeg powder and serve

Frothy Vanillanog (serves 8)

1 quart milk
8 egg whites
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
Cinnamon powder to taste
Spicy chile powder to taste

Whisk thoroughly in a punch bowl until all ingredients are thoroughly integrated
Spike with an alcoholic elixir if so desired (of course, I recommend an aged rum)
Add ice
Dust with a blend of cinnamon and spicy chile powder

P.B. & J. Granita (serves 4)

1 pint milk
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
½ pack raspberries
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup simple syrup
Salt to rim glass
Dark rum

Add all ingredients to blender with ice
Blend thoroughly for 20 seconds
Pour into individual glasses with a salted rim
Pour one ounce dark rum on top of the cocktail as a float

The PB&J recipe above has been adapted to make it alcoholic.  If you want it without the booze, then skip the dark rum float, but then where would the fun be in that?  This is the cocktail that Fiona and I made to much comic effect.  You can see evidence at ThirstyInLA.

I was initially skeptical of the idea of milk in cocktails but found that for drinks like those above, it worked well.  However citrus based cocktails like a gimlet were a poor match for the milk and should be avoided.  Rum is a particularly good pairing alcohol for the milk as they play off of each others flavor profiles and create creamy drinks in the nog and shake styles.

So look in your fridge, you may have all the ingredients necessary to create a sinful holiday treat right there.  For more milk recipes, click here.  For more cocktails from McDonnell, who was named one of the top mixologists in the US by Food & Wine magazine, click here.

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