The other night I was looking for something warming to sip and decided to try out a recipe from a cocktail book brought back by a friend on a recent trip to Belfast: The Merchant Hotel Bar Book. As I flipped through the "Hot Drinks" section, something immediately caught my eye: Hot Rum Cow.
With its whimsical name and tempting list of ingredients (piping hot milk, dark rum, vanilla, aromatic bitters, and sugar), this Cow sounded like a winner.
Taking a closer look, I noticed that the measures in this book were expressed as parts - and that those parts were written as fractions (in this particular recipe 17ths!): "5/17 Bacardi 8yr rum, 2/17 cane syrup, 10/17 piping hot milk, 1 dash aromatic bitters, dribble vanilla extract."
This was going to take some calculating. Assuming I wanted to make a drink with 1.5 ounces of rum as a base, I figured that would then mean 0.6 ounces of cane syrup, and 3 ounces of milk. I gave it a try.
The resulting drink was very rich and flavorful. The warmth of the Flor de Caña 7 year old dark rum I used (as a substitute for Bacardi 8yr) really shone through and combined almost seamlessly with the bitters and vanilla. But after a few sips, I found the concoction a little on the strong side. I decided to add more hot milk, topping up the mug in increments, and finally settling on a total of 8 ounces (more than twice what the original recipe called for).
I found this super-cowed-up version to be quite delicious - very flavorful and soothing - like a lighter, eggless cousin of a posset. A perfect nightcap for a chilly day.
Hot Rum Cow (adapted from The Merchant Hotel Bar Book, volume 2, by Sean James Muldoon)
makes one drink
3-8 ounces milk (I used 8 ounces of 2 percent)
1.5 ounces dark rum (I used Flor de Caña Grand Reserve 7 Year Old)
1 drop aromatic cocktail bitters (I used Angostura)
1 drop vanilla extract
cane syrup, to taste (I substituted plain brown sugar)
grated cinnamon and/or nutmeg for sprinkling
Heat the milk in a saucepan on low, taking care not to scorch it. Meanwhile combine bitters, vanilla, and rum in a mug (I pre-warmed mine by filling it first with a bit of hot water, allowing it to stand a minute, and then emptying it before adding the ingredients). Top up with warm milk and stir in brown sugar to taste (I used a single teaspoon of it). Sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg.
(Images: Nora Maynard)