Another Laurentian, Gary: a maple-flavored tribute to The Big Lebowski

Hot weather and a visit to the sugar shack, over Easter weekend. And The Big Lebowski.

They’ve all combined to result in this blog post, about a cocktail I came up with a few weeks ago, as I was working on a short feature about maple-based drinks for Coup de Pouce, a Quebec food and lifestyle magazine. A number of Quebec artisan producers have developed some pretty remarkable drinks from maple sap and maple syrup, over the last few years. For example, there is a dry, crisp sparkling maple wine from Domaine Acer; a madeira-like, oak-aged cuvée from L’Ambroisie de Mirabel; or La Gélinotte, an intense fortified maple liqueur from what was originally a mead producer, Intermiel.

The strong, concentrated caramel and coffee aromas that characterize La Gélinotte made me think about a drink I enjoyed regularly, a few yars ago: the White Russian. Vodka, kahlua, ice and milk, a combination made most famous by The Big Lebowski, the cult movie conceived by the rambling and brilliant imaginations of Joel and Ethan Coen.

The Dude (Jeff Bridges), having another Caucasian.

My good friend Vincent and I spent at least a year drinking White Russians while watching movies at his place, after seeing the adventures of The Dude, Walter, Donnie and bowling. Caucasians, as The Dude refers to them in the movie, were a pretty perfect late evening drink. Not too rich and not too strong (if you add enough milk), fairly refreshing, and somewhat like dessert.

After tasting La Gélinotte, I figured it would be intersting to substitute this Quebec maple liqueur for the Kahlua. The set of flavors is close enough to a coffee liqueur, and maple and dairy products are a classic mix.

Returning from a trip to the sugar shack, Saturday (a trip made a little strange by the July-like weather), I figured it sould be nice to give the drink another go. I’m even more convinced than the first time around.

The recipe is pretty simple. Put some ice in an old-fashioned glass. Pour in about an ounce of vodka and about an ounce of La Gélinotte, and top with milk. Stir, and sip slowly. I think I might be doing that again well-past maple-syrup season.

As a cousin to The Dude’s Caucasian, I’ve named this drink The Laurentian, pointing to the maple-producing stronghold that is the St Lawrence river valley and its surrounding regions. In the absence of La Gélinotte, using Kahlua and adding a tablespoon of maple syrup will surely do the trick, too.

I hope you’ll enjoy it. Meanwhile, I’ll go find out what condition my condition is in.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted April 15, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    “Big Lebowski” might be the best movie ever (or at least the funniest). I’m glad Jeff Bridges got an Oscar for “Crazy Heart”, but he deserved one as the Dude. I was just recently in Los Angeles, and I saw my first “Ralph’s”. I insisted that in the event of my demise, I want my wife to put my cremated remains in a Ralph’s coffee can.

    I love the idea of using maple syrup in cocktails. As an advocate of drinking locally (generally referring to wine), great bartenders should be using local ingredients in drinks. I need to find more drinks in Atlanta utilizing local Georgia honey.

    • Posted April 15, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Great comment, Dude (if I may call you that).

      Would a vodka, milk, coffee liqueur and honey cocktail be called a Georgian?

      Cheers, anyhow!

  2. Posted April 16, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    A “Georgian” would likely involve Moonshine, some Cabernet Franc (gotta look out for my GA wine growers), and some Sweetwater 420 (local brew), all consumed in sequence.

    Seriously, I’m no mixologist (or whatever bartenders call themselves these days), but I imagine dropping a little local honey into a White Russian would be pretty good. If I could get away from the corks and bottles and mix a drink someday, I might try it.

    And yes, “Dude” is very flattering. À votre santé!

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