Below is an excerpt from GINNED! Magazine about East London Liquor Company's Batch 1, December's Gin of the Month. Every month, Craft Gin Club members receive a bottle of amazing small-batch gin accompanied by GINNED! Magazine which is full of features about the gin, the distillery and loads of fascinating features.
As happens in the travels of many of us, East London Liquor Company's Head of Drinks Development Mikey Pendergast fell upon an upset stomach once while on an archaeological job in Mongolia. He quickly discovered that Mongol medicine differs substantially from ours in the West, primarily because Westerners don’t often ferment animal milk.
On the steppes of Central Asia, the weather is harsh, drought common, and terrain unpredictable. For the steppe’s inhabitants it is thus fortuitous that evolution developed the Bactrian camel. Domesticated as far back as 2,500 B.C., the two-hump species helped merchants on the Silk Road carry their wares and remains a crucial element of Central Asian culture today with an approximate 2 million camels serving their human masters.
A wild version, which differs from its domesticated cousin in several physical aspects such as a flatter head, is the eighth-most endangered species of mammal on earth. With only an estimated 800 roaming the plains, it is even more endangered - yet less cute - than China’s panda population.
When we think of camels, we tend to think of amusing looking creatures that aren’t very comfortable for riding and which may spit on you at any moment. Mikey just thinks of their milk.
To cure his stomach ache and “enliven his spirits”, the locals gave him a mixture of fermented camel milk known as airag and “an even stranger herbal concoction.” Airag is the Mongolian version of camel booze, a drink that is found in various forms and under a slew of names from Saudi Arabia to Russia. Upon extraction, the camel cream is filtered, heated and joined with yeast before being left aside for 10-16 hours. The result is a low-alcohol, sour-tasting liquid that if desired can be distilled to make the Mongol spirit arkhi. Airag also has a cousin made from mare or cow milk called kumis, a more common drink that is sometimes produced industrially.
Straight airag may be sour, but Mikey remembers the drink as fairly sweet perhaps due to the herbs. Most importantly, the Mongol moonshine cured his stomach.
When a friend of Mikey’s that “advocated gin and milk as a wonder drink” heard his story, the two put their shakers together and came up with a new cocktail for ELLC’s Batch No. 1 Gin.
The Camel That Cures Us
- 50ml Marshmallow root infused Batch 1 gin
- 25ml Vanilla Syrup
- 120ml Gold Top Milk
Shake all the ingredients together in an ice-less tin then serve in a long glass over ice.
Goes exceptionally well with chocolate chip cookies and surprisingly lobster as well