Cocktail Critic: Moloko Plus

Darcy O'Neil :: January 18, 2006 2:23 PM

cclogo.gifAbsinthe is a drink surrounded in mystery and has become some what of a hot topic lately. The belief that there are "special" properties, to this green liquor, is an attraction to many. This has created a new market for the "green fairy" drink and with the increase in cocktail popularity, it was inevitable that the two would meet one another. This meeting resulted in the creation of an absinthe based cocktail by Christopher S. called the "Moloko Plus."

Moloko Plus Review

moloko-plus.gifWhen Christopher submitted this cocktail he stated it was inspired by the book and movie, A Clockwork Orange, which peaked his curiosity into absinthe. With this intro, my first impression of this drink was that it was going to be strong, in a pagan ritual way. Something that should be served in a large iron goblet with bubbles pouring out and green vapours streaming from the top. Well maybe not that scary, but the combination of absinthe, reinforced with anisette and then topped up with two teaspoons of vanilla extract doesn't exactly come across as a girly drink.

The one obvious thing about this drink, even before trying it, was that two separate flavours were fighting for the spotlight. I thought the amount of vanilla being used in the drink would be over powering. The anise flavour, from the anisette and absinth, are very strong flavours also. With those initial thoughts, I went to the task of making this drink.

moloko-plus.jpgThe drink was pretty easy to make and didn't present any difficulties. To the nose, the first impression is almost "Brown Cow", which comes from the vanilla, milk and Bailey's. The first sip revealed a bold vanilla milkshake, which was quickly followed by the spice from the anise on your tongue. The finish is all anise and lingers for a little while. It seems to block your taste buds, so the drink becomes less potent with every sip. The milk and Bailey's seem to take the edge off the drink, but the favours are still very bold and present themselves right away.

This drink was obviously created to be a bold statement on flavour, and it succeeds. However, the two flavours, anise and vanilla, are not really synergistic. They don't seem to compliment one another, at these strong levels.

The other issue is the use of absinthe in this type of drink. Absinthe is a complex liquor with unique flavours. Adding anisette to absinthe seems to be counter productive. Using a pastis, such as Pernod or Ricard, would have provided the anise flavour, without using such an expensive product, like absinthe which costs about $80 in Canada.

Rating

Ingredients
Score OneThe ingredients for the drink are pretty standard, except the use of absinth. With the use of milk, sugar and a cream liqueur, absinth is probably not the best ingredient to use. Using Ricard Pastis or Pernod would have worked better, and been more cost effective.

Preparation
Score OneThere is nothing difficult about this drink, but it could suffer some consistency problems because of the strength of the vanilla, and the use of “milk to fill.” Also, different brands of absinth and anisette have different alcohol and sweetness levels, so the strength of the drink may fluctuate.

Taste
Score OneNot bad, but not great. Unless you are a fan of anise and vanilla, this drink may not be for you. The vanilla and anise flavours don’t seem to work together, even though they do provide two layers to the drink. The key area where this drink needs to improve, is the balancing of the flavours.

Originality
Score OneThis is the first time I've seen absinth used in a cream/milk based cocktail, but other than that there isn't anything to bring this cocktail to the next level of originality. The combination had to be attempted though, or we would never now what this tasted like. There is a dessert called Souffle glacie l'anis from France that is similar to this drink, except the anise component is fractionally smaller and only provided a hint of anise.

Bartender Rating
Score ZeroThe use of absinth in a milk shake style cocktail isn’t something that would be served at a bar. Absinth has this mythical property where people want to experience it, more than drinking it. The traditional absinth spoon, sugar and water method seems to work best for this drink. Also, absinth can be quite pricey, running for about $80 for a 750ml bottle. Like single malt scotches, absinth is best served simple. The cost to make this drink would make it prohibitive to sell in a bar and the taste could offend some people who think the drink is a way to soften the anise flavour. This is a bold drink, best served with close friends.

Moloko Plus Score

Suggestions:

1. Use Pernod or another pastis for this drink, this will save money and get the same relative flavour. Also it doesn't waste absinthe, which may be hard to find in some areas.
2. Cut the drink size in half, this is a big drink based on the original recipe.
3. Try using a vanilla liqueur, like Bols, instead of pure vanilla extract. It will provide better consistency and flavour to the drink.
4. Using anisette lowers the alcohol level and increases the sweetness. Drinks handle sweetness better when the alcohol content is higher.

The key issue is the lack of balance. This could quite possibly be a good drink, but it needs to be refined to one main flavour, with a couple of complimenting flavours. Here is a suggested recipe, based on the French dessert Souffle glacie l'anis which is similar to the Moloko-Plus:

1 oz Brandy
½ oz Ricard Pastis
½ oz Vanilla Liqueur
1 tsp Orgeat
1 egg white
2 oz Milk or Table Cream

Combine all ingredients with ice in shaker and shake until foamy. Garnish with a pear slice.

Overall, not a bad attempt. Obviously, this drink was designed to be for people who like a strong, super flavourful, drink. Not all drinks can suit all peoples tastes.

Next Week:
The next cocktail to be reviewed is called "Stairway to Heaven", and butter is the key to making this drink extra smooth.


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