When I was a kid, there used to be a mason jar in my house that was always kept just out of my reach. It looked like it was filled yogurt, but grosser. Runny, chunky, with a sickly yellow color. I didn't find out until years later that it was actually the most delicious milk liqueur I've ever tasted.
It's Christmas day, you've made it through the long week (and your parents' cooking), and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Happy Holidays, let's sip something.
This recipe originally came to me from my mum, who used to make this weird-looking stuff when I was a kid. She hadn't made it in years, but just recently stumbled upon the recipe as excerpted from David Leite's book The New Portuguese Table. My mum had always thought it was Lithuanian. Turns out it's both.
There are several variations on this recipe, but I'm going to take you through the one from my household (the more citrusy Lithuanian version) and then touch on some others.
• 2 cups of whole milk
• 2 cups of whole vodka (or grappa)
• 2 cups of sugar
• 2 oranges (chopped, with rind)
• 1 lemon (chopped, with rind)
1. In a big mason jar (1/2 gallon or 1 gallon, depending how much you're making), add all of the ingredients, and give it a quick stir. It will look all kinds of nasty. Trust in the process.
2. Seal the lid and leave it in a cool, dark part of your kitchen for ten days, stirring or shaking the jar once per day. Yes, I know, unrefrigerated milk. Don't be scared, though.
3. After ten days, put a cheese-cloth-lined colander over a large bowl and pour in the mixture to strain out all of the fruit and larger chunks of milk solids. You will now have a slightly yellow, milky mixture. Now, some people actually stop right there and drink it. It's tasty and creamy (and pretty strong) but it's fairly heavy, and I can't imagine it will keep as well. So proceed to step four.
4. Line a strainer with a round paper coffee filter. We tried hanging a conic filter over a jar at first, but it wasn't strong enough, and the milk solids would always come through. You want this to be nice and clear. Pour the liquid into the filter (over a bowl or large jar) and let it drain through. You'll probably have to change the filter out a few times as it clogs with milk solids, and you may need to do a couple of passes to get it perfectly clear.
The result is this lovely golden nectar (see final photos) that will keep unrefrigerated for up to six months. It's unmistakably creamy and citrusy (not unlike a Creamsicle). Like a dessert in a cup. But with booze.
Now, let's talk variations. Personally, I use less sugar, as two cups results in something way too sweet for me. Some add vanilla. Some people find that the citrus overwhelms the subtle milky flavor. For that reason, some eliminate the oranges and lemon all together. You still get a clear, yellow booze, it's just not citrusy anymore. Very delicate and creamy. Others half the amount of citrus. David Leite's recipe calls for no oranges, but adding half a lemon and two ounces of bittersweet (70 per cent) chocolate, grated. I'm trying that one next. Reports seem to indicate that it's not unlike a chocolate malt ball.
So, now you know how to make your very own milk booze. Here's the thing, though, it seems to just be called "milk liqueur" which is unimaginative and unappealing (even the Lithuanian "pieninis krupnikas" roughly translates that way). Gizmodo readers, I think we can do better. Let me know in the comments what you think we should call this stuff, and if anybody tries to make it, let us all know how it goes.
Check out Happy Hour next week for the ultimate, low-budget New Year's Eve punch.