CREAMY COCKTAILS

by Naren Young

The 'Grasshopper' Cocktail

There was a time, not so long ago in fact, when cream-based drinks were chastised by the bartending community. At one of the first bars I ever worked in – a tourist pub in Sydney – creamy drinks were extremely popular. Anything with cream was always put into a blender, typically with Kahlua or amaretto or Frangelico or some other liqueur with a diabetes-inducing level of saccharine. Oh, and chocolate sauce. Yes, chocolate sauce. I think it was called a Mudslide. As a guilty pleasure, I would even have one from time to time.

It seems only fitting that this article is published just after the highly anticipated opening of New York’s Golden Cadillac, named after one of the world’s most sublime creamy drinks (their recipe is below). On their striking menu they also have a hot Grasshopper, an interesting twist on a drink that I have and will continue to place on menus throughout my career. Grate some high quality, dark chocolate on top and you now have something truly ambrosial in your hand. 

While such drinks and others of their ilk reared their once ugly heads during the disco era of the 70s, these kitsch cocktails have become somewhat trendy. Being ridiculed is no longer an issue. Remember the Brandy Alexander, a drink that was actually originally made with gin? Try one with Bols Genever, whose malty notes work perfectly with the cream and chocolate in what is a delightful and iconic post-dinner nightcap. Don’t forget the nutmeg people.

Not all cream-based drinks have been so maligned though. Perhaps the king of them all – the Ramos Gin Fizz – highlights this fact, as it remains one of the greatest cocktails in existence, at least in this scribe’s humble opinion. Getting a decent one, however, well that’s a whole other story. It doesn’t need to be shaken for six or eight or ten minutes as history has taught us. That very notion is preposterous, so stop complaining the next time someone orders one. Just smile. The best recipe I’ve ever tasted is still Audrey Saunders’ version at the Pegu Club (also listed below). Stick to this and you can’t go wrong. She also liked to add a few drops of cardamom tincture on top for a final flourish and captivating aroma.

On that same pedestal is the Irish Coffee, an august drink whose legend began during the 1940s at Ireland’s Shannon Airport. Now it’s a staple in many bars, most notably the Buena Vista in San Francisco, while New York’s Dead Rabbit also make a stellar version. Drinking the hot coffee through the cold, sweetened cream is something completely unique to this drink and utterly sublime. Try flavoring the cream with a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon and spiked with a splash of liquor (try amaretto, nocello, Frangelico, Sambuca or even bourbon).

As you’ll see below from some of these recipes, such drinks are not just based on cream per se, but also of yoghurt, mascarpone and one of my all time favorites is based on ice cream: the White Cargo from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, although if you look online there’s a huge disparity in its recipes. It’s a strange combination, to be sure – gin, white wine and vanilla ice cream – but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. Either way, creamy drinks can’t be ignored. They may be kitsch, but they’re also downright delicious.

RECIPES:

Golden Cadillac

  • 2 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 oz. Galliano
  • ½ oz. white crème de cacao
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Shake and strain. 

Grasshopper

  • 1 oz. green crème de menthe
  • 1 oz. white crème de cacao
  • 1.5 oz. heavy cream

Shake and double strain

Garnish with grated dark chocolate.

Alexander

  • 2 oz. genever
  • 3/4 oz. (dark) crème de cacao
  • 1 oz. heavy cream

Shake and double strain

Garnish with grated nutmeg.

Rum & Raisin

  • 1.5 oz. Appleton Reserve rum
  • ½ oz. Licor 43 
  • ½ oz. spiced honey syrup
  • 1 tbsp. Greek yoghurt

Shake and strain on fresh ice into a highball

Top with soda

Garnish with grated cinnamon and star anise.

Ramos Gin Fizz

  • 2 oz. (Beefeater) gin
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 5 drops of orange flower water

'Dry' shake all ingredients

Add ice & shake very hard

Add soda water to shaker. Strain

Add 5 drops of cardamom tincture.

Tiramisu

  • ¾ oz. Galliano Risretto 
  • ¾ oz. Marsala wine
  • ½ oz. white crème de cacao
  • Shot of double espresso coffee
  • Tsp. mascarpone cheese
  • 5 dashes chocolate bitters

Shake very hard and strain

Garnish with grated valrhona chocolate


@forkandshaker 

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