The Jack Torrance

an Overlook Hotel original

1 oz Jack Daniels
3 oz Advocaat
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters (optional)

Place all ingredients in a mixing glass half full with crushed ice
Shake and pour, without straining, into a rocks glass

* * *

By the whole 12BB Team

Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Shining” is the scariest movie ever made.  This is not open for debate.  In the film, an evil hotel – haunted by hundreds of years of bad deeds piled atop an Indian burial ground – tries to seduce an emotionally damaged writer into a whole bucket full of really bad ideas.  What does the hotel use as the instrument of this poor man’s temptation?  The prospect of a good drink, of course.  Smart hotel, the Overlook was.

The moment of seduction occurs midway through the film.  Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) gets up from the bar in the Overlook’s grand ballroom, does a couple of twirling dance steps, and crashes right into lead ghost and all-around psychotic former caretaker Delbert Grady.  Grady, in the guise of a waiter, is carrying a tray loaded up with four aperitif glasses filled with a creamy yellow liquid.  In the collision, much of the yellow mess winds up in Jack’s glass of Bourbon, with the rest covering his jacket.  “It’s Advocaat, sir,” Grady explains as he proceeds to mop up the liqueur from Jack’s coat. “It does tend to stain.”

As Grady lures Jack into the bathroom – ostensibly to clean his jacket but in reality to tell him just how bad a job he’s doing of chopping his family into little pieces.  Jack places his drink down – “I’ll just set my Bourbon and Advocaat down… right there” – where it sits for the rest of the scene like a giant missed opportunity.

Well, Shining ghosts, 12 Bottle Bar received your message, and we have complied with your wishes.  Behold, the Jack Torrance, a ghostly concoction crafted by a hand from beyond the grave.

Never ones to rebuke the dead, we have permitted their demand for Jack Daniels in this drink – temporarily upping our bottle count to an unsettling 13.  If you want to keep to the 12 Bottle Bar mantra, however, substitute the Rittenhouse Rye or Pusser’s Rum.  As for the Advocaat, is there a 14th bottle as well?  We cleverly figured out a way around that, but first, some history on this peculiar potion.

Advocaat, or Advokat, is a “rich and creamy liqueur made from eggs, sugar and brandy” – essentially, a very boozy custard-like version of Eggnog.  Advocaat’s origins are bizarre, to say the least. When Dutch colonials arrived in Brazil in the 17th century, they embraced the local drink called Aguacate, made from the soft, smooth fruit of the avocado plant. The Dutch added sugar and rum to the drink, bringing it closer to the Advocaat of today. As for the egg yolks, they were a clever substitute for the creamy flesh of the avocado, which refused to grow in the chilling climes of the Netherlands.

We at 12 Bottle Bar have fared better than the avocado in Holland. The Jack Torrance, as we have dubbed it,  is an unexpectedly delightful drink.The Bourbon and the Brandy (in the Advocaat) mix well together, with the sugary thickness of the Advocaat providing the perfect counterpoint.  If left to its own devices, it’s also an incredibly strong drink, so we’ve taken the liberty of shaking it and serving it on the rocks – a little thinning does this one some good.  And even though it’s technically outside the Overlook’s recipe (apologies, ghosts), our addition of a couple of dashes of Angostura nicely rounds things out as well.

Now, a few further words on the ingredients.  Bourbon or Jack Daniels?  Torrance drinks Jack, but refers to it as Bourbon (which Jack Daniels is not).  Do as you like, but the triple “Jack” threat (Nicholson-Torrance-Daniels) is hard to resist and makes for a much better moniker.  And, what about us getting around that 14th bottle of said Advocaat?  Easy… we’re going to make our own (see below).

We bid you Happy Halloween with this treat from our friends at the Overlook Hotel (as well as the combined genius of Messrs. King and Kubrick).  Anything more than one of these taken liberally at the bar of a haunted hotel might have you looking at that axe in the shed and thinking about all the mischief the two of you could get up to.  Consider yourself warned – and, should you imbibe, be sure to keep a watchful eye for ghostly caretakers.

Let’s Make Some Advocaat

The idea for the Jack Torrance as our Halloween capper rests solely with Lars, our resident Stephen King junkie.  There was one small problem – none of us had ever tasted Advocaat.  As October arrived, Lars bought a bottle of Bols Advocaat, around which we fashioned the drink recipe.  However, while we were fine with adding a temporary 13th bottle (as we’d be “13 Bottle Bar” for Halloween), it was impossible to rationalize a 14th.  So, while you, kind readers, we’re enjoying the first half of our Halloween haunt, we were reaching out to the Justice League of mixology for a great Advocaat recipe.

First to respond was the inimitable Gary Regan, the Obi-wan Kenobi of cocktails.  Regan offered the following:  “My grandmother used to make Advocaat by putting whole raw eggs into a jar and covering them with brandy.  After the brandy dissolved the shells she’d whip the brandy into the raw eggs.  I don’t remember if she added other ingredients at that point, though.  Perhaps a little nutmeg?”

While the whole raw eggs in brandy version wasn’t exactly one we felt comfortable passing along – nor one we had time to make – it is something too “weird science” not to try at some point.

A second option came from Holland-based Philip Duff, one of the world’s foremost bartenders and consultants.  Unfortunately, Duff informed us that Advocaat is almost always bought in Holland nowadays, not home made.  “Real Dutch Advocaat (called Black Chicken) is so thick it’s eaten with a spoon!”

Finally, having scoured the internet, we settled upon this recipe from About.com, which comes from Karin Engelbrecht, a resident of Amsterdam and former Food & Drink Editor of Time Out Amsterdam magazine.  Those were good enough credentials for us.  True to Philip Duff’s description, this is some serious Black Chicken (“Zwarte Kip” in Dutch – we have no idea why it’s called this) and certainly can be enjoyed with a spoon.

Now, the Bols product is mighty tasty, but once we made this simple homemade version, there was no going back.  It’s on the boozy side (roughly 20% ABV vs. the 15% Bols bottle), so feel free to scale back the alcohol if so desired.  And, if you don’t see too many Jack Torrances in your future, it makes for the single best bread pudding topping we’ve have ever tasted.   As for the Brandy, you could use our Remy Martin VSOP, but we recommend something more economical.

Homemade Advocaat
Makes approximately 700ml or 23 oz.

Ingredients:

10 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups sugar (250 g)
1 1/2 cups brandy, or cognac (350 ml)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:

1) Beat the egg yolks, salt and sugar until thickened.

2) Slowly trickle in the brandy, while still beating.  (The mixture will thin again)

3) Pour the mixture into a saucepan and warm over a low heat, continuously whisking.   (We used a double boiler, which makes it much easier to control the heat).

4) It is important to be patient here. If it boils, the alcohol will evaporate.

5) The Advocaat is ready when it coats the back of a spoon.   (You’ll notice when it starts to get thick.  Immediately, proceed to Step 6).

6) Now remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk through the vanilla extract.

7) Store in the fridge. (We added this, but it should be self-evident.  We have no long how long it will keep; so, use your best discretion).


9 responses to “The Jack Torrance

  1. being too creeped out by the movie in process while watching the shining, i somehow never clued in to the actual cocktail happening in that scene. it’s a *brilliant* addition to a halloween repertoire! i’m not up for making advocaat at this late hour, but i will try to keep it in mind for next year…

    • Thanks, Franko. We plan on breaking the Advocaat open again around Christmas time, so you’ll have another chance to whip up the “boozy pancake batter” well before next Halloween. Truth be told, I (David) had seen the movie about 100 times and never picked up on the drink. Then, Lars joined us last Spring, and I think it was the first thing he pitched. Our whole “13BB” gimmick was really all built around justifying the Jack Daniels needed for this drink, because even though we could tweak it into the 12BB mold (I think Pusser’s would be a tastier option), the drink demands JD. It was a lot of fun to do, and maybe it’ll prove funky enough to have some legs.

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  4. Hey, looks like we’re on the same wavelength this season. Advocaat has been weighing on my mind for the last few months as well, and I recently tried to come up with an Advocaat cocktail that would become a new taste sensation and usher in a new era of Jack Torrance consciousness.

    I failed:

    http://transmissionsfromagentj.blogspot.com/2010/12/overlook-cocktail.html

    http://transylvaniagentlemen.blogspot.com/2010/12/devils-advocaat.html

    • JSH – I can safely say that the Jack Torrance isn’t for everyone or every time you want a drink. Same goes for Advocaat. The Snowball, however, is very moreish — something I never would have expected, given the ingredients. I’m mixing up a batch of Advocaat and lemonade this morning to take to a party.

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