Mudder’s Milk

” [Zhe shi shen me lan dong xi!?] ~ “What is this garbage!?” – Hoburn Wash
“Mudder’s Milk –  All the protein, vitamins and carbs of your grandma’s best turkey dinner, plus 15% alcohol.” – Jayne Cobb
“It’s horrific!” – Hoburn Wash

A long time ago in a television show that got quickly canceled there appeared a fandom.  Firefly’s bare half season and 1 movie have sparked a joyful cult following well in excess of the actual weight of its’ actual run.  If you’re not a fan I highly recommend it as a series, it’s not a long watch binge wise and rewards re-watching extensively.

In episode 6 titled “Jaynestown” the crew enters a bar on a moon full of indentured workers.  The drink of choice is called Mudder’s Milk and is as referenced above, both nourishing and foul.  Fans have proceeded to attempt to create the drink with everything from pureed tiger bars to meticulously tested oatmeal stout home brew formulas.  During a drunken late night game of Cards against humanity at a convention I was challenged by a ships alchemist to come up with something better since I had spent the majority of the night complaining about all of the bad options around online.

The Challenge was accepted back in 2013 and quickly sparked at least 4-5 months of testing, cooking and drinking.  I think my own personal feeling on the subject was that whatever the resulting drink would be, it had to be drinkable or the entire thing was simply a waste of time.

To start with let me lay out the final recipe.

Per Serving

1/3 Rolled Oatmeal
2/3 cup Water
1/2 Apple
1 Tbsp White Sugar
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
2 Tsp Ground Allspice
2 Tsp Ground Nutmeg

1 1/2 oz Irish Cream
1 oz Spiced Rum

Much of the prep for this recipe can be performed in advance.  This is intentional as this is intended for camping as well as breakfast drinking.

Pre-Prep:

Step 1: Using a food processor, blender or spice mill, process rolled oats until they are of a uniform size similar to flour.
Step 2: Place 1 Tsp each of spices and oat flour, into a small container with a lid.
Step 3: Peel, core, and dice apple.
Step 4: Place apples, 1 Tsp of each spice, white sugar, and 1/3 cup of water into a small saucepan over med-low heat.  Simmer for 20-30 mins.
Step 5: Remove apples from heat, allow to cool.
Step 6: Process apples to desired consistency.  This can be done with a stick blender, chinoise, food mill, or strainer and spatula.  Anywhere from chunky to applesauce is fine.
Step 7: Place apple mix in lidded container and refrigerate.

Plating:

 

Step 1: Place oatmeal/spice mix into container with 1/3 cup water.  Allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator or ice chest.
Step 2: Open oatmeal, drain off any remaining water.
Step 3: Add brown sugar and 1-2 Tbspn of apple mixture and stir well.
Step 4: Spoon Apple/oatmeal mix into a glass
Step 5: Add Irish Cream and Rum to glass, stir thoroughly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of trial and error went into the creation of this drink.  I attempted to use everything from heavy cream to apple butter during this process.  As I said above the total research and testing took the better part of 4 months to complete but the results are excellent.  I encourage you to check my previous posts on the subject if you’re curious at all about the process.

Mudder’s Milk: Part the First

Mudder’s Milk 2: The Worthier Part

Mudder’s Milk 3: I Call Her Vera

Mudder’s Milk 4: Coming to a Middle

Mudder’s Milk 5: Big Damn Heroes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camp 1805 Distillery

220A customer recommended that I take a trip down the gorge to try out a new distillery in Hood River.  Camp 1805 is parked in a little industrial complex just a stone’s throw from the HRD plant right on the Columbia river.  Position wise you would not think that there would be much in the way of restaurant or retail in that part of the town.  Most of the commerce seems to go on in the south bank side as the town rises up the hill.

Given their location I suppose it was no surprise that they didn’t actually open until 3pm.  So the girlfriend and I made a day of it, driving down the gorge taking photos and exploring hidden gems until afternoon rolled around.  The site is actually a bar, which is different than many of the tasting rooms in Portland but encouraging as it means the bartender is going to be well versed in what kinds of cocktails go well with their products.

They were open promptly at 3, which is refreshing in this business where things can sometimes be lax.  Things were quiet since we were effectively waiting for them to open and it was the middle of the week.

The decor is very nice looking and new.  Their selection behind the bar was heavy on major labels with a good selection of mixers but lacking in the depth of a Kask or oven & shaker.

Their tasting flight included four offerings.  From what I gather their small batch nature means that the proof on some of these varies from batch to batch with 80 being the baseline and the end product going up to at least 93.

Endurance White Whiskey

Whiskey is a curious duck, the legal requirements say that it must be barreled but not that it must be charred or aged for any length of time.  For this reason white dogs always feel like a cheat to me.  This one spends all of a minute in an unchared barrel before heading to bottling.  The result is clean and has the flavors of the heavy wheat in the grain bill without the oak to temper or tame the alcohol flavors.  It wasn’t a biter for all that the version I was drinking was 93 proof.  I can see this getting much better with time and oak.  I’m not a big fan of white dogs so take my opinion with a lot of salt.  4/10

Mt Hood Vodka

A french wheat vodka purchased elsewhere and then cut with local water and bottled.  This was similar to a grey goose in both flavor and character.  At 80 proof I wasn’t surprised with the content but neither was I really blown away.  5/10 – nothing much new to see here.

Backbone Rum

When I first tasted this I thought I was drinking whiskey.  The flavor is quite potent, which again might come from the higher proof nature of some of the offerings.  The flavor was good for a silver but not quite as soft as say Cpt. Morgan White. 6/10

Aged Rum

This is the true standout of the ones that I tried.  There wasn’t any information about it on their website so I’m stuck with what I learned while I was there.  Their backbone is aged in Yellow Rose Bourbon barrels until it is ready.  Barrel aging is a tricky process when you’re not using new barrels, the flavors in the wood already can play as much of a role as the size of the barrel in how long it needs to age to get the right flavor.  The batch I tasted was not really a dark rum but has some very good flavors to it.  8/10

Cruzan Blackstrap Rum

cruzanI went looking for a dark rum because I needed one for the Cafe con Leche Flip.  There were several on the market but I quickly became aware of the many differences in how they were marketed and constructed.  For starters there aren’t any real regulations about how rums are classed.  There are rums, rum liqueurs and flavored rums.  Beyond that you’re pretty much on your own in the wilds of marketing speak.

From the little research I’ve done so far the black strap from Cruzan is fairly similar to their aged dark with the addition of extra molasses beyond the normal distillation.  When they add the molasses is up for some debate.  I’m personally betting that they add it after barrel aging as the extra sugar wouldn’t go over well in the oak.

Cruzan makes a pretty awesome rum normally but I was shocked that their Black Strap was actually pretty comparable price wise to my previous standby Meyers.  I paid $14 for this bottle and was glad for the privilege.  Many of the other “dark” rums on the shelf were in the $35-50 range which was well outside my limits for an unknown quantity.

The smells coming off of this bottle were puzzling.  Unlike the more vanilla and sugar smells of meyers there were hints of heavy oak, clove, coffee and some other less identifiable items.  A couple of solo sips almost killed this for me.  The rum is actually a bit bitter and the spice notes do not help to bring it back around.  There isn’t actually any sweetness in the rum, it is not a liqueur.  The molasses is prevalent but it occurred to me afterwards that black strap molasses is the final extract of the sugar process.  It is the gunk left over after you’ve squeezed every last white grain of sucrose out of the liquid that you can.

Fortunately I went straight from sips to cocktails and dropped this into my cafe con leche flip.  The results were an eye opener, the heavy flavors and bitterness were entirely gone and the spice, rum and oak were on full display.

Unlike a spiced rum the spice notes are not the primary flavor.  It’s not picking up a cinnamon stick and beating your drink over the head, it is a light shake of pepper and coriander on an otherwise deep black rum.

If you don’t already have a go-to tiki rum I would strongly suggest picking up a bottle of this.  At least until I start making my own ;).

 

 

Cafe con Leche Flip

wpid-wp-1421662228526.jpegThe original version of this drink comes via a news story in the New York Times about the health department cracking down on raw eggs used in cocktails.  This specific recipe was inspired by the one served at Pegu Club in New York.

Good dark rums are heavy on the ground so picking one is pretty easy.  If you have one you like use that instead but I used a new Cruzan Blackstrap as I have been looking for a good dark rum for some time and wanted to try it out.

Similarly in Portland coffee liqueurs are a dime a dozen.  You can’t throw a hipster belt buckle without hitting a distillery that makes a coffee liqueur.  A lot of it comes down to base spirit and the roaster they’re using but anything from the Below deck Coffee Rum to the House Spirits liqueur will work, use what makes you feel good.

Medium cream (30% fat) might be a little hard to find.  I hit three or four stores looking but didn’t see any.  I eventually subbed in normal whipping cream (25% fat) as it was a little lower fat than medium but significantly less than heavy cream (45%+)

 

Recipe:

1 oz Dark Rum
1.5 oz  coffee liqueur
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz medium cream
1 Egg yolk
Fresh grated nutmeg

This one is going to take some doing.  First put your simple syrup and egg yolks in a dry shaker.  Using a whisk or frother you’ll want to whip them really well.  Next add the cream and ice and give them a good shake to combine.  Add your alcohol and give it a final shake with ice, strain into double old fashioned or flute and grate nutmeg over the top.

I used a cheap frother I picked up at the kitchen gadget outlet store and it worked great.  I wanted to replace the ice in this for the second shake but after looking at the results I thought it was more work for not much difference in result.

The flavor on this is delightful, the egg yolk gives the entire drink a solid mouthfeel.  The coffee flavor is primary but the dark rum lets the cream and sweet flow into more subtle hints of molasses.  It’s almost like a whipped dessert and slides gently around the tongue.  The dark rum and coffee flavors favor each other well and give a nice spiciness without a heavy or syrupy taste.

What are the different types of Rum?

While all spirits derive their alcoholic content from one form of sugar or another the class of spirits that are made from sugar directly are generally classed as Rum.  In the US the regulations are very very broad in defining what is and isn’t considered rum.  According to the US Tax and Trade Bureau which sets the definitions for spirits in the US, Rum is any “Spirits distilled from the fermented juice of sugar cane, sugar cane syrup, sugar cane molasses or other sugar cane by-products at less than 95% alcohol by volume (190 proof) having the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to rum and bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof)”.

Beyond that general form there is no sub-type, category or other definition of rum in general.  They do define Rum liqueurs and Flavored rums but the breakout essentially boils down to “It should be primarily rum” and “It should be flavored as listed on the bottle”  so butterscotch flavored rum can’t be flavored with root beer or tuna fish.

What does that mean?  Effectively since none of the terms on your bottle of rum are regulated other than the word “Rum” distillers can say whatever they want about their product and have it stick.

The following terms in rum are unregulated:

White
Gold
Dark
Spiced
Silver
Light
Overproof
Black

 

Cachaca

Boot Strap Buck

 

Boot Strap Buck

The dark interior of Kask does not lend itself to photography as can be seen in the poor quality of the photo I took that night.  I blame the light and not the 8 or 9 drinks I put away.  The first drink I had that night was a rum concoction called the Boot Strap Buck.

It is perhaps a measure of how good a drink is when you can’t substitute any of the ingredients.  If each thing is selected because it fits exactly into the slot it needs to in order to make the drink taste exactly the way it should.

In this case we start with Blackstrap rum.  I haven’t yet had a chance to really sit down a work out all the differences in the various kinds of rum, but in general most rum is made from molasses.  Blackstrap molasses is what you get after you boil sugar cane juice three times.

The Cruzan is a wonderful dark rum full of flavor and character.

Demerara sugar or turbinado sugar are whole sugar crystals that come from evaporating sugar cane juice before you boil the sugar out of the molasses.  The result is something a bit like brown sugar but with more flavor and vanilla characters.  It’s fun stuff to play with as it really gets you the best of the sugar cane flavor.

Ginger Beer is a new personal favorite, a good ginger beer has a sharp flavor and can be tasted in cocktails where gingerale falls flat.

The nutmeg is the wildcard here, it’s partly for scent, and partly for adjusting the flavor.

The whole thing is an experience that hits you on a number of different levels.  Ginger, spice, rum, lime and citrus all coming at you like a spider monkey.  Go get one, you’ll thank me later.

Bootstrapbuck tag

Mudder’s Milk Part 4: Coming to a Middle

To Recap:  Mudders Milk 1  In which we set our sails to distraction

Mudders Milk 2 In which we fail and learn that having to eat your mistakes can still be damn tasty.

Mudders Milk 3: Where we try Cold Soaking

Welcome back everyone to my attempt to create a drinkable oatmeal cocktail.  In our previous episode we tried cold soaking the oatmeal with some very good results.  Suggestions were made as to how to proceed and we present the results.

premud 1

Using a small blender I took about 3/4 of a cup of rolled oats and powdered them.  I was expecting something a bit more like steel cut oats but instead wound up with something more like oat flour.

premud2

I fouled the next step.  Normally with cold oats you only need a small amount of liquid to get the whole thing going since none of it is going to boil off.  I could have done a half cup to 3/4 cup of milk but being out of milk at the time I instead used water and didn’t bother to check my notes and used 1.5 cups of water.

premud3

The result was thin and after a stir looked pretty smooth.  I placed the container in the fridge overnight and prayed that I wouldn’t have to start over.

Mudder's Milk4-1In the morning the container had separated putting a small quantity of cloudy water on top of the layer of oatmeal.  I poured this off and was left with what you see above in the first photo.  The texture is pretty good, the smell and flavor are about a hundred times better than the baby oatmeal I tried and this looks like it’s going to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 2 is apples.  All previous attempts have resulted in apples with a slightly chunky texture that is not ideal for drinking.

Mudder's Milk4-2Mudder's Milk4-3

We start by peeling and coring.  Then dice them into small mostly uniform pieces.

Mudder's Milk4-4

Add a little baker’s sugar so the apples will sweat and about an ounce of water to get them started.  Next season with ground cinnamon and grated fresh nutmeg.

After a little time I added another ounce of water to help them soften and stir periodically to keep them from sticking.

After a good 10-15 minutes the apples were still not very soft and I’m starting to think that I need a different approach to them.  So I pulled them off the stove and into a solid bowl for a good muddling with my Oxo Steel Muddler.  I like this thing a lot, Wood makes me edgy about flavor carry over and the thing eventually wearing out and putting splinters in my drinks.  I don’t have a good history with wooden kitchen implements so this muddler feels good being both solid metal in the rod and plastic on the head for cleaning.

It made pretty short work of the apples but at the end they were still pretty solid.  Another approach is definitely needed.

Mudder's Milk4-5

 

I added the muddled apples and the oatmeal back into the pot for a little heating and blending.  At this point I made mistake number two which was to forget to season the oatmeal.  This stuff is bland, bland bland when it’s plain and for this drink I need something that is going to help mask the alcohol.  The seasoning on the apples hasn’t been able to carry the day before and this time was no exception.

This part only took about 2-3 minutes and if you’re prepping this stuff for camping or events this is the point at which you can do you run out of pre-prep.  All the previous steps can be done hours in advance and set aside.

Mudder's Milk4-6

 

Once the mixture was warm enough that cold booze wasn’t going to make the effort pointless I spooned the now somewhat more solid oatmeal into a parfait glass.  This is about 4-6 tablespoons.

Mudder's Milk4-7

 

For this attempt we’re going to use some Silver Bacardi Rum and a bottle of dirt cheap Emmet’s Irish Cream.  I would use Coole swan for this in the end but I’m not going to waste the good stuff on an unsure outcome.  You might ask, why rum?  The original effort for this came from a discussion with a lovely pirate girl and so I’m using rum in an effort to keep at least the sousant of piratical flavor.

Mudder's Milk4-8

 

1 oz of Silver Rum
1.5 oz of Irish Cream

Stir well in the glass and you should wind up with something like this:

Mudder's Milk4-9

 

Flavor: Harsh on the alcohol side.  This could be too much rum or just cheap irish cream that is the problem but it does make me think that I haven’t given enough thought to the kinds of alcohol I’m using in this.  The oatmeal is fine and the apples are tasty.

Texture: The oatmeal is perfect.  No clumps until right at the end when I’d let the glass settle a bit and even then it wasn’t big enough to stop drinking.  The apples were still huge and did require chewing.

Problems: Oatmeal was bland.  I need to season on both the apples AND oatmeal and sweeten with some brown sugar before I add the apples.

Apples were still huge: I’m thinking either putting them through a food mill, blender, or stewing them in more liquid rather than sort of poaching them like I have been doing.  Applesauce seems like a good idea for some reason but I have a feeling that it won’t work out as well as what I have been doing.  They need to be softer and mushy but not liquid.

Boozey: With both rum and bad irish cream this was a hit in the mouth every drink.  The irish cream is a for sure but using something like coole swan is going to help.  Less rum, this is an AM drink and doesn’t need that much of a hit.  I’m also thinking of something a bit more flavorful like barenjager, which is a honey liqueur and is very creamy and might help with the need for less sugar.

 

Drinking Basics: Core Drinks

It was not that long ago that I was like many casual drinkers out there.  There was no complexity in my attempts to get smashed as quickly as possible and I was guilty of drinking some things that these days make me cringe.

An argument I’ve had with a friend of mine is what constitutes a cocktail.  The original definition read something along the lines of “spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.”

Specific enough for my tastes but that defines the classic cocktail, back when people knew a sling from a gimlet.  Today the waters have been muddied to the point that the dictionary says “an iced drink of wine or distilled liquor mixed with flavoring ingredients.”  About the only thing that definition excludes is beer and cider.  Anything else could reasonably rolled into the realm of “flavoring ingredients.”

I’ve stated my position is that anything that uses a soda as the primary carrier in the drink isn’t really a cocktail.  The point of refutation in that argument is the Cuba Libre which does all kinds of things to the cocktail world.

So I’ve performed a strategic retreat and I present to you here the most basic “cocktail” in common consumption for each of the most common forms of hard liquor.

Vodka

For this most plain of liquors we have two options.
1. The Screwdriver – 1 part Vodka and 2 parts Orange juice.
2. Vodka Cranberry – 1 part Vodka to 2 Parts Cranberry Juice

Vodka is a neutral spirit, when done well it should present no burn either forward or afterwards.  In either of these drinks the dry and sour components in the citric acid are there to try to smooth out a cheaper vodka.  The cheaper the vodka the more juice you add.

Gin

The floral bouquet of gin is one of the most complex scents in the liquor world.  A gin basket can contain dozens of ingredients each distinctly detectable in a well made liquor.
1. The Martini – 1.5 oz Gin to 0.5 oz Dry Vermouth
2. Gin and Tonic – the most basic of all, Gin and a quinine containing tonic water mixed in ratios of about 2:3

Rum

There are a lot of different kinds of rum.  Too many to recount in this piece I’m afraid but we include here the current swing in rum drinks.
1. Rum and Coke – just like it sounds 1.5 oz rum to an 8 oz can of cola.
2. Scurvy Pirate – 1.5 oz Rum, Ginger Ale

Tequila

As complex a spirit as tequila is, it seldom mixes well with a lot of the more classic ideas of cocktails and tends to shun bitters and floral arrangements in favor of fruit and citrus.
1. Tequila Slammer – 1.5 oz Tequila, 7-up, Squirt or Mt. Dew.  This one is tricky as the drink is served with some room left in the glass.  You hold your hand over the top of the glass and slam it quickly on the bar to release the carbonation then drink it quickly before it foams over the top of the glass.

Tune in next time with drinking basics as we show you the evolution of tastes from the very basic to the complex as we upgrade the screwdriver.

 

Drink of Thrones

Given the popularity of the series it is perhaps inevitable that someone would think to make an entire series of drinks themed around the show.  Since the third season of Game of Thrones has finished I’m sure we all have a lot of time to drink, watch the first two seasons on DVD and contemplate until The Newsroom starts up in July.

This Guy obviously knows his stuff.  I’ve yet to try out many of these, and a few don’t look all that appetizing but I have to give him mad points for creativity.

Below we find his And Now His Watch Has Ended

3 oz POM Pomegranate Cranberry Juice
1 oz Blackberry juice
2 oz Dark rum

Shake with ice, strain and serve.

And Now his Watch is Ended

Proofing

Something to consider when reading old bar guides.  Not all proofs are created equal.

Proof as a measure of alcohol content comes from the British Navy.  While sailing there are a number of factors that need to be managed on a long voyage.  Among them the need for fresh water, vitamin C and Morale.  Water kept in casks for a long time would spoil, growing algae or bacteria.  Being at sea, fresh fruit was often hard to come by.  And getting doused on rum was far easier than trying to keep the crew entertained in any other fashion.

At some point an enterprising seaman combined the three items together and struck upon a single solution to all three issues.  The citric acid of lime juice and the alcohol content of the rum kept the water from growing anything.  The addition of rum and lime made water an attractive proposition for sailors to stay hydrated and the lime juice kept everyone from getting scurvy.   Once this caught on the number of limes being consumed by the Navy led to all brits being called Limeys.

The one downside to this proposition was greed.  Like cheap bar owners since the dawn of time, someone wanted to save money on rum by watering the drinks.  They were already watered anywhere from 2:1 to 6:1, but there is a point at which what you’re drinking isn’t really a cocktail anymore and the sailors would grumble.  Eventually even the accusation that the Grog might be watered was enough to start the officers worrying.

A wily purser hit upon a method to assure the crew that they were getting the full cask strength.  Gunpowder doused with rum will not ignite if there is less than 57% alcohol in the liquid.  So at the start of every voyage the purser on british ships would take a sample from the rum casks and *Prove* to the crew that the rum was sufficiently strong.

So in the British Navy 100 proof was equal to 57.14%.  Anyone familiar with American spirits might find this a bit odd.  That is largely because American distillers use a different formula for proof simply doubling the ABV.  So in the UK 100% alcohol was 175 proof and in the US it was 200 proof.

A lot of this is moot since the US hasn’t had a Grog Ration since 1862 , and the UK hasn’t had a Grog Ration since the 1970’s.  In addition the UK switched from the proof measurement to ABV in the 1980’s making the distinction about 30+ years out of date.

This all becomes important when you’re reading prohibition era or post prohibition bar guides.  A lot of those guides were written in countries other than the US because cocktail culture in Britain didn’t dry up in 1920.  As a quick look at the Vesper will tell you if Bond is calling for a 100 proof vodka in his drink is that a 50% ABV US measure vodka or a russian import using the UK scale at 57% ABV?

Is that vintage bottle of gordon’s gin the original 84 proof at 48% or the modern reissue 80 proof at 40% ABV?