Among Molly Wellmann’s hundreds of handcrafted cocktails, there are few simpler—and certainly none better suited for a fireside chat—than The Main Street. A beautifully modest cocktail with hints of molasses and cinnamon, it delivers a subtle chocolate creaminess that leaves you warm and refreshed, despite being served cold. “And there’s not a drop of chocolate in this,” says Wellmann, Japp’s tattooed mixologist extraordinaire. “I find that magical, this blend of flavors from The Kraken rum and the Milk Stout mixed with vanilla that ties everything together in a beautiful little bow.”
4 fresh mint leaves
½ ounce of vanilla simple syrup *
2 ounces of The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
¾–1 ounce Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
1 pint glass
1 rocks glass
Place four fresh mint leaves in a pint glass and add the simple syrup. Do not muddle the mint. “The ice does the bruising for you,” Wellmann says. “If you muddle mint too much, it turns the drink bitter.”
Pour in the rum and fill the glass with ice. Place your shaker securely over the pint glass and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass (without ice) and pour in no more than an ounce of Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro. Garnish with a mint sprig. “The stout lightens the whole drink up,” Wellmann says. “I love how it cuts through the sweetness of the vanilla and the rum, and creates that chocolate flavor.”
*To make syrup: Bring 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 2 split vanilla beans to a simmer, then let sit at room temperature for an hour. Strain and reserve. (Don’t have vanilla beans? Stir in 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract for each cup of sugar and water.)
Do not serve this drink over ice. The initial shaking and addition of the Milk Stout properly dilutes the drink. Pouring the drink over ice would destroy the chocolate and mint notes.
Substitutions? “I wouldn’t substitute a damn thing in there. You can quote me on that. I guess if you wanted to substitute the beer, you could go with another stout like Guinness. But honestly, it’s not going to have those beautiful, dense chocolate notes.”
Can’t find quality fresh mint in the dead of winter? Try Pic’s Produce in Bond Hill—that’s where Japp’s gets most of their fresh ingredients. “They try to do things as local as possible and as seasonal as possible, but we do have this little thing called winter in Ohio,” Wellmann says.
Wellmann on the multi-purpose nature of vanilla simple syrup: “I make this for my little nephews and put soda water with it and they just think it’s the greatest thing. They’re like, ‘We’re having mocktails!’ They’re really cute. They know how to shake, they know how to bartend.”
Originally published in the January 2014 issue