Jason Barber, who is a fifth generation dairy farmer and one of the founders of Black Cow gives us his take on refreshing cocktails for summer, the importance of ice in drinks and their new ready to drink Negroni.
Tell us about Black Cow Vodka? How did your business start and what makes Black Cow Vodka unique?
Black Cow is the world’s first Pure Milk Vodka. Made in West Dorset from the milk of grass grazed cows, it has an exceptionally smooth and creamy character.
We make Black Cow using what is left over from milk when making cheese. It starts with separating the milk into curds and whey. The curds make cheese – including Black Cow Deluxe Cheddar – but, often, the whey ends up going to waste. We take that whey and make it into the World’s Smoothest Vodka!
It was almost 10 years ago that Jason – a fifth generation dairy farmer – and Archie – an artist – came up with the idea for Black Cow.
Today, we make Black Cow from our distillery in the heart of West Dorset. We like to keep things simple so we do most things here on the farm. Jason’s 250-strong herd of cows graze on nearby fields and our vodka is distilled and bottled here by hand. We also have a bar and kitchen where we host tastings, workshops and other events.
In your opinion what is the upcoming spirit being used in drinks this summer?
Vodka! Our Black Cow & English Strawberries vodka is particularly summery. Made from locally sourced strawberries that would otherwise go to waste, it is a deliciously light vodka with the unmistakable taste of freshly-picked strawberries. For a light and refreshing serve top with soda and garnish with fresh mint and some strawberry slices. Alternatively try it with ginger beer, or use it to make a mojito.
How do you go about purchasing spirits for your bar and kitchen?
No surprise, but everything we mix at our Bar & Kitchen is Black Cow. When it comes to all the added extras, our choice is quite simply led by what tastes the best. We’re always looking for high quality products with natural ingredients. For a Bloody Mary, we find the best tomato juice we can lay our hands on. Same with the coffee that goes into an Espresso Martini. The details are also important. We try and use locally sourced, seasonal produce where we can; often the mint in a mojito comes from a local garden and the strawberries are always locally grown.
What is your favourite cocktail to make and why? Can you share the recipe?
It changes all the time! When the sun is shining it’s either a Black Cow Strawberry Spritz or a Honey and Lime Slushie.
Black Cow Strawberry Spritz
- Pour a measure of Black Cow & English Strawberries in a long glass, over Hoshizaki ball ice.
- Top with soda water and stir
- Garnish with fresh garden mint and a few slices of Strawberry.
Black Cow Honey and Lime Slushie
- First, make a honey syrup but combining 2 dessert spoons of honey with 2 dessert spoons of boiling water and stirring for several minutes.
- Fill a tumbler-style glass half full with Hoshizaki flaked ice.
- Squeeze the juice of two limes into the glass.
- Add 50ml Black Cow, the honey syrup and fill the glass with more flaked ice.
- Give it a stir and garnish with a mint leaf.
How important is ice when making a cocktail/ drink?
Ice makes all the difference! It can make or break a drink so it’s really important that we get it just right.
How do you ensure ice hygiene at your bar and kitchen?
Always use a scoop for your ice!
Would you recommend Hoshizaki ice makers?
Absolutely, we love our Hoshizaki ice makers! The ice balls are great in drinks as they don’t thaw too quickly – keeping your cocktail colder for longer, which is important! The flaked ice is also perfect for a refreshing summer Slushie. We also find that Hoshizaki ice makers are low-cost and efficient to run as they are so well insulated.
Tell us about your latest product the Black Cow Negroni?
The Black Cow Negroni is our very first ready-to-serve cocktail. An international take on the classic Italian Sundowner, it’s a blend of Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka, Italian Campari, Spanish Vermouth, and a (secret!) mix of natural bitters.
There is a wonderful brightness to the Black Cow Vodka Negroni. A smooth, clean finish, and a citrusy zing that speaks of summer.
The whole idea with it being ready-to-serve is that you can drink it anywhere, with very little preparation. It’s fantastic poured straight from the bottle over ice or, for a longer drink, topped with soda and finished with a slice of blood orange.
Find out more about Black Cow Vodka here.