If you’ve grown up in Australia, then you’ve probably grown up on Milo. Like Vegemite or Weet-Bix, this chocolate and malt powder (which is mixed with hot water and milk) is iconically Australian.
So it’s not surprising that Dulcie’s Kings Cross, a bar that takes its Australian spirits very seriously, has used this chocolatey powder in a new drink called The Trouble With Harry that will star in their up-coming winter cocktail menu.
Yet creating a new cocktail, even if you have an almost kitsch-like national ingredient is, asTom Joseph, head bartender at Dulcie’s will tell you, a little like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.
Although there were a number of ingredients that they knew they wanted for the drink, like the aforementioned Milo and a nice bit of Honey Liqueur, the puzzle wasn’t quite complete. “The base spirit was the hard part to find,“ he explained.
“We tried it with Whiskey, we tried it with Rum, we tried it with Gin but nothing really jumped out at us. Nothing really had that depth we were looking for with this drink”.
It was only after digging through their stores to find something else that might work, that they came across six bottles of Port. “We found it worked absolutely perfectly. It created a nice roundness that added to the texture and the mouthfeel that worked really well.”
While creating that perfect balance between the ingredients in a drink is key, finding a name that works not only for the drink but also has a compelling story behind it, is the next hurdle for any great cocktail.
“The name was the hard part … well, sort of. All the drinks that we have at Dulcie’s are named after people or venues that have made Sydney, and particularly the Cross, great or are simply references to things that just have a really phenomenal story”
And in that vein, the story of Harry Crawford, whom the drink was named for will not disappoint. It seems that Harry was actually born in Italy as a woman named Eugenia but by the time he had made his way to Sydney, he had taken on the guise of a Scottish man and in 1912 married a widow named Annie Birkett.
“Together they opened up a confectionary shop and that’s kind of what caught our ear with the Milo. He then murdered his wife when she found out he was transgender from the neighbour,” Joseph continues. “It talks to the darkness that permeates through so much of Sydney’s big personalities but for our purposes, works really well because the whole story is flipping mad. It works with both the heaviness of the flip-style, as well as the light-heartedness of the drink.
Joseph explains that when he started to think about using Milo, his thoughts naturally went to creating a drink that would be along the lines of a Milo Flip.
Flip Cocktails go all the way back to the 1880s, with the first bar guide to mention them being Jerry Thomas’s 1862 How to Mix Drinks. In that, Thomas declares that “The essential in flips of all sorts is to produce the smoothness by repeated pouring back and forward between two vessels and beating up the eggs well in the first instance the sweetening and spices according to taste.”
“I’m a big fan of flips generally,” Joseph said, “they’re lovely, they’re creamy and whenever I can use one I do, as they are definitely underused.”
With Port as the main liquor, this is a perfect drink for winter, as it is not only creamy but has a relatively low-AVB. As with any cocktail, mixing it with quality ingredients will go a long way to making the drink shine.
“I would always say go Australian ingredients,” said Joseph. “With the port is pretty easy, I would look for something from the Barossa. As far as the Honey Liqueur, we find the Beenleigh works really well, as it’s a Rum based Liqueur, so it already has a lot of natural sweetness.
Although this is a relatively easy drink to make at home, Joseph will tell you that the worst thing you can do to this cocktail is make it too sweet. he does though stress that balance is the name of the game and that the Sugar Syrup that is already in the drink is there to round out the Port.
“If you haven’t made this drink before, it might be a good idea to go easy on the sugar to start. I would recommend adding 7-10 mls rather than the full 15 mls, and if you find that it’s not quite sweet enough then you can always add a little bit more.”
As Joseph points out, you really can’t go past the traditional Coupe glass when it comes to a flip-style cocktail.
“It’s the same style as you would use for a Gin Fizz or something along those lines. That wide dish works really well, as it allows the drink to sit without losing any of that viscosity; it keeps it from separating or falling.
“Although we’d hope that you are drinking it fast enough so that doesn’t become a problem,” he adds.
Whereas normally, when an egg is involved, you might do a dry shake, Joseph recommends that you do what he terms as a ‘semi-dry shake’. he recommends adding just one or two cubes of ice, which he believes will activate the eggs in the cocktail faster.
“If you get a couple of big cubes of ice and shake with them for that initial dry shake, it just throws it about a little bit more without chilling it or watering it down,” he explains.
“Port is a heavy ingredient and Honey Liqueur tends to be fairly heavy as well. Generally flips tend to be heavy, as they have a lot of protein and weight to them, so you really want to air it out, so as to make it light and fluffy and easy to drink.”
The Trouble With Harry
1.5 oz (45ml) Tawny port
0.5 oz (15ml) Honey Liqueur
0.5 oz (15ml) Sugar Syrup
3 bar-spoons of Milo
Crack an egg into a shaker, then add Sugar Syrup, Honey Liqueur, Port & Milo. Semi-dry shake, then add ice for a full shake. Fine strain into a Coupe glass.