Black Cow, the artisan vodka made from milk, neatly embodies the spirit of the West Country.
Launched only 18 months ago, this innovative drink quickly achieved cult status appearing in Claridges, Fifteen, Tresanton, River Cottage and a few ultra-hip bars in London. If you haven’t already been served a Black Cow cocktail, you soon will. Yet the company has remained resolutely small and unpretentious, still essentially a cottage industry based in a few outbuildings in Childhay, West Dorset. Black Cow is the brainchild of Dorset dairy farmer Jason Barber who was fascinated with a tribe of nomadic Siberians who distilled vodka from mares’ milk. It took two years of development and much trial and error before he came up with a vodka that was smooth and creamy with virtually no after-burn. Hair-raising Russian-style vodka this is not. He asked long term friend Paul Archard, to partner him and help market the world's first milk vodka. Paul's wife Helen came up with the simple eye-catching design - the vodka comes from a herd of black cows - and Black Cow was born.
As you can see in the film below, milk from cows is fermented to make a milky beer which is then distilled, blended and filtered. There is no other ingredient in Black Cow other than milk from grass grazed Dorset cows and this in part explains its rapid success. Pleased by its provenance, Mark Hix began championing Black Cow in his restaurants, first with the Dirty Cow martini and then the Black Cow shot, vodka served over ice with a chunk of 1833 Barber cheddar. This is trend-setting stuff – the cheese board seems so last year when you can surprise your guests with a tray of vodka shots and a carefully matched cheese instead. Other restaurants who set the bar for provenance and locality soon followed suit. Joshua Linfitt, mixologist at Fifteen Cornwall invented the delicious sounding Orange and Vanilla Mootini (essentially a martini with an orange twist and a vanilla pod). It's not surprising that Black Cow has captured our imaginations. It is artisan, it tastes great and it has a sexy name, the foundation for many outre cocktails. Slowly but surely taking over the world? We hope so. Mark Hix Dirty Cow Martini 100-120 ml Black Cow vodka Dry Vermouth 6 medium or 3 large good quality green olives in brine Rinse chilled cocktail glasses with vermouth and shake out. Crush 2 olives in a tablespoon of brine removing the stones. Put the crushed olives and Black Cow in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigourously. Strain into glasses and serve in a glass with olives on a cocktail stick.