The Kazakhstan Story: Horse Milk Cocktails



Oh milk...glorious milk! For thousands of years you’ve been the nourishment of humanity as we progressed through the ages from cave- men to hipster-sapiens, giving us a steady supply of nutrients, healthy teeth, bones & delicious cheese.

In modern times we’ve expanded our knowledge of different types of milks with the rise of vegetarianism in the form of almond, cashew & soya being the most common found in your barista’s repository. But what if there was a more “radical” alternative?

 

Que Kazakhstan, the land that we only knew existed in the Western World thanks to Sacha-Baron Cohen’s man-kini wearing character Borat. Sitting in a barren field we were 20 mins away from “milking time” except I wasn't surrounded by lab-coats or cows but rather by horses & manure. We were there to buy fresh horse milk, fermented horse milk know as “kumis” & camels milk for the sake of cocktail “research” especially since dairy- products have been one of the key components of some of the most iconic cocktails in history - most notably the Ramos Gin Fizz, Grasshopper e.g.

Before many of you jump on the band-wagon of critiquing this practice we have to take a look back at history, culture & geo-location.


The first mention in literature of the consumption of horse milk & specifically of its fermented brother “Kumis” can be traced back all the way to the writings of Herodotus of Greece(circa. 463 BC) during his account of the contact between the Greeks & the Scythian horse raiders of the Eastern plains. Fast forward thousands of years & archives show that during the last breaths of the Russian Empire there were many “Kumis Health Centres” located around the area of modern Kazakhstan advertising the miracle properties able to cure everything from leprosy, impotence to gout & sodomy. Famous Russian writers such as Tolstoy used to visit these places with the hopes of curing them of their ills.

 

Nowadays the consumption of horse milk is still popular in the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan & Mongolia with low-scale commercial versions available on supermarket shelves or “artisanal/craft” versions sold by elderly communist women straight on the side of the road in plastic unmarked bottles.

It has to be mentioned that the practice of using horse & camels milk in products follows the trend of “innovation through necessity” and is attributed to the fact that most o