Cocktail of the Week: Mangi Ferra

Two words: milk punch. Clarified milk cocktails are having a moment and we’re here for it. Impossibly creamy and delicious, but also clear, crisp and precise; the complexity of a milk punch knows no bounds. With that in mind, this week’s chosen sip is Hawksworth Cocktail Bar’s Mangi Ferra, a mango and gin milk punch with a decidedly South Asian flair. 

Vancouver’s highly esteemed Hawksworth Restaurant often takes up prime real estate in many of the notable “Best Restaurants” lists, but its adjoining cocktail bar counterpart is a big hitter in its very own right, drawing in drinks enthusiasts from across Canada and beyond. Channeling a schmoozy, lightly hipster, drinks-lounge vibe against the backdrop of a Damien Hirst original painting, some imbibers prefer to enjoy their meals in the bar rather than the more formal chandelier adorned “Pearl” dining room. But wait, didn’t we come here to talk about the drinks? Yes. Yes we did. So let’s get sipping.

Mangi Ferra recipe: on left, the yellow drink is in a glass. n right, recipe is in white text over orange background

The Mangi Ferra is a rich blend of mango pulp, citrus, cardamom, yogurt, milk and Bombay Sapphire Gin. The notable London Dry gin is beloved by swillers globally for its unique blend of ten 100% sustainably sourced botanicals delivering a crisp and colourful flavour profile. Truly an excellent choice to build out a premium cocktail, the subtle lemon peel and cilantro notes of Bombay Sapphire play beautifully with the mango and cardamom flavours of the cocktail. 

So what exactly makes a clarified milk punch then? And who had this stroke of mad genius in the first place? You’ve got questions and we’ve got answers (and drinks; you’re welcome).  A clarified punch essentially is a spirit mixed with citrus and dairy, left to curdle for several hours (in a refrigerator) and then strained through a fine mesh. Sure, the middle part of the equation ain’t pretty, but that’s science: it’s a process, and this one ends in a delicious and rich elixir. 

The art of punchin’ can be traced back to the mid 17th Century to British playwright and spy, Aphra Behn, who mentioned the sip in one of her works. Another woman, Mary Rockett (no seriously, that’s her actual name) penned a recipe for a milk punch in her 1711 cookbook. Fast forward well over 300 years, and drinks aficionados (such as David Wondrich in his book Punch) are swooning over ye olde method of mixology. 

Bartender tip: if you’re ever trying to make your own milk punch at home, always add the spirit and citrus to the milk rather than the other way around. Something, something, chemical reaction — honestly, we trust our mixologists — it seems that the curdle effect that comes from separating out milk proteins with acid works best when milk is added last. Sometimes it’s best to place an order and let the masters do their work, right?

View of cocktail bar

We may have said the word “curdle” a little too often for you to be summoning any Instagrammable imagery in your mind’s eye, but rest assured (and behold the photography!) Hawsworth’s Mangi Ferra is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. Presented with a simplistic elegance that allows for a multiplex of flavours to shine through, this is one truly delicious cocktail worth propping up the bar for! 

Okay, one quick exit note if we may: can we please circle back to the female spy who wrote plays AND rustled up timeless cocktails? We hate to say it but: move over James Bond, we have a new espionage icon: Aphra Behn! Cheers.