If you’re too gastronomically disturbed to eat breakfast, we can help. As a public service to the hungover, every week we track down the best bartenders in America and ask them to share their favorite hair-of-the-dog remedies. This week we’ve got a cocktail that incorporates all the components of a well-rounded meal in a single glass.
HIS ELIXIR: PILLOW TALK
ITS ORIGINS: Chefs use beurre noisette, or brown butter, to add a unique buttered-toast flavor to dishes. But the process of making brown butter can be time-consuming and finicky. (To make, chefs cook butter in a pan until it separates into liquid and solids. Then they keep cooking it until the solids get toasted in the hot fat, turning them a caramel color.)
Chef Ilan Hall of The Gorbals restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had been separating out brown butter solids to use in mashed potatoes when a friend suggested he make his own using dehydrated milk. (“You know, the type of powdered milk that you would take into a bunker if the world was about to end,“ Hall says). "Nonfat powdered milk is pure milk solids,” he says. “Then if you toast them, you get all of the flavor of brown butter without any of the hassle of cooking the butter and hoping that you don’t burn it.”
At his restaurant, Hall uses a pressure cooker to toast the solids: He adds two inches of water to the bottom of the cooker and then places a rack inside. Next he fills a Mason jar halfway up with the powdered milk and then places it on the rack. Then he pressure-steams the jar for 45 minutes, gently caramelizing the solids. To replicate his method at home, you could toast the powdered milk on a baking sheet in the oven (instructions below). "You’re left with that flavor of brown butter that you can then apply to anything,” he says.
ITS HEALING POWERS: When coming up with a new cocktail for the brunch menu at The Gorbals, bar manager Christine Kang decided she wanted something buttery. “But using actual butter—any fat, really—in a cocktail is difficult,” Hall says. So Kang consulted the kitchen and got the idea of incorporating the toasted milk solids into a drink.
She first tried shaking the powdered solids in a tin with the rest of the cocktail ingredients (rum, eggs and lime and pineapple juices), but it wouldn’t dissolve fully. So she made it into a liquid syrup, which was much easier to incorporate. “The solids really add this buttery nuttiness to the drink that’s unlike anything else,” Hall says. “You wouldn’t be able to achieve that taste any other way.”
For Hall, the best way of softening a hangover is by eating something rich and fatty, or in this case, drinking something rich and fatty. "The toasted milk solids taste buttery like toast and the citrus juices are refreshing,” he says. “It’s instantly restorative.” And since the cocktail also contains eggs, it’s like having your entire breakfast in a glass.
HOW A CHEF RECOVERS FROM A HANGOVER: “Cold storage,” Hall says. “If you feel gross or like you need to puke, show up to work early and stand in the walk-in refrigerator for about 15 minutes. It’s amazing what that can do for you.”
- 1 oz. El Dorado Demerara dark rum
- 1 oz. light rum
- 1 oz. lime juice
- ¾ oz. pineapple juice
- ¾ oz. toasted milk syrup (recipe below)
- 1 egg white
Add all ingredients to a cocktail tin. Dry shake (without ice) until frothy. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a sprinkle of dry, toasted milk solids.
TOASTED MILK SYRUP
- 2 cups toasted milk solids (instructions below)
- 1 ½ cups white sugar
- 2 cups water
- 8 tsp. salt
Make toasted milk solids: Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Spread nonfat powdered milk onto a baking sheet in a thin layer. Cook in oven until milk is toasted (when it reaches a light brown, caramel color), about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Break up any chunks and add the pieces to a coffee grinder. Grind until it reaches a fine powder.
Make toasted milk syrup: Combine all ingredients in a pot. Cook on the stove until powder dissolves. Strain. Cool to room temperature.
Alyson Sheppard is the resident hangover specialist at Playboy.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amshep