The Inkwell Wallop - A Cuphead Cocktail
I made a cocktail based on the incomparable video game, Cuphead. I call it The Inkwell Wallop. Read on after the recipe for my thoughts on the drink.
The Inkwell Wallop
2 oz. - moonshine
2 oz. - créme de cacao
1 oz - Goldschlager
4 oz. - half 'n' half
0.75 oz. - créme de coconut
0.75 oz. - vanilla anise syrup*
Add all ingredients to a large shaker - dry shake (meaning to shake without ice).
Add ice, shake again.
Strain into Cuphead or Mugman mug.
No garnish, just wallop.
*To make the vanilla anise syrup, bring one cup of water to a boil. Add 2 cups of plain sugar to the water, stir until clear, take off heat. Add a drop or two of vanilla extract then another drop or two of anise extract.
IMPORTANT: If you only have access to a normal sized drinking vessel, halve this recipe. I made this specifically for the 16 oz Cuphead/Mugman mugs made by Just Funky. Also, this has a good amount of booze in it, so just take it easy, alright? Don't go chugging these things.
The wife and I bought a Nintendo Switch shortly after our wedding in March of 2019 and in searching for new games to play, I discovered that a title called Cuphead was coming to the Switch in April. I had only heard of Cuphead at that point and I didn't know too much about it but, after watching a trailer for the game and a review or two, I was totally sold. The game's creators, Studio MDHR, sought to make a game based in the style of 1930's animation - think Steamboat Willie (Mickey Mouse's first cartoon), Felix the Cat or anything from Fleischer Studios. Needless to say, they succeeded. It's hard not to fall in love with this game, the time and effort that went into this project is apparent as you can't help but get drawn in to each and every little detail. Each movement animated with the same techniques used back in the 30's; each background a watercolor painting..it's nothing short of a marvel. And as if that wasn't enough, the gameplay and storyline are great as well; difficult, captivating, fun and addictive. You play as sentient mugs, who owe a large debt to the Devil after getting in over their heads at his casino. In order to pay off your debt, the Devil sends you out to collect soul contracts from characters all along the Inkwell Isles. You wallop your way from boss to boss, world to world until you inevitably take on the Devil himself.
I'm not the biggest gamer but video games have nearly always been a part of my life and I have very fond memories of growing up with my brother, spending hours taking turns on the Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo. All this retro-game talk is putting me in the mood to name drop, so here were a few of my favorites: Earthworm Jim, Rocket Knight Adventures, Toe Jam and Earl, Battletoads: Double Dragon, Sonic 3 with the Knuckles cartridge, Ristar, and Donkey Kong Country 2 to name a few. The one that really got me into video games and the first game I beat by myself was Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land for the Nintendo Gameboy - what a feeling that was to conquer a whole game by yourself as a kid. I have to stop myself before I go further down the rabbit hole and start ranting about other games and consoles - the point is: video games were a big part of my childhood and I'm very nostalgic about them. I remember the frustration of repeated defeat and the rush of euphoria and relief that came after a victory.
Cuphead makes me feel all those same feelings again. It's super challenging but it's not unbeatable (although it certainly feels impossible at times), and, again, it's absolutely BEAUTIFUL. The picturesque backgrounds, the psychedelic animations, THE SOUNDTRACK (don't even get me started on the 1930's-style jazz soundtrack); it's flawless and stimulating on all fronts. To me, it's a perfect game.
At any rate, the main characters, Cuphead and Mugman, being the vessels that they are, are filled with a white mystery liquid. As I played on through the game, I began to wonder, "what's in the cup?" I sought to answer that question by consulting the internet. I found a couple articles; fans looking to explain the physics of it, saying it must be a non-newtonian fluid that stiffens with movement, others that believe it's just moonshine (as there is an image of one of the characters pouring the contents of a bottle labeled "XXX" into the other). Really, I was mainly interested in what the creators had to say but they chose to stay very vague and leave it up to interpretation; they did however say that it is their "essence." So with this information, and with the discovery that a cornucopia of Cuphead merch existed including big ol' 16 oz. mugs, I knew what I must do to answer my question - order the mugs and make a cocktail.
So, firstly, there's the most obvious trait - the color. It's white and opaque like milk - I immediately thought of a White Russian and took the half 'n' half element from that. I really liked the idea of moonshine being in there - a little white lighting - if that doesn't get your mug moving, I don't know what would. I knew syrups would be needed so I chose creme de coconut to give it some body and the vanilla/anise syrup for some depth in flavor. Creme de cacao was needed to cut into the 'shine and accent the creamy half 'n' half. The last ingredient I chose was pretty symbolic, the "essence" element, something spicy to bring these mugs to life...had to be Goldschlager. Cinnamon to add another punch of flavor and the flakes of gold for fun - you wouldn't be able to see them even if they made it into the drink but I saw it as the thing that motivated these characters; after all, chasing riches is what got them into this mess.
After some tweaks and alterations, bada-bing, bada boom, The Inkwell Wallop was born. An homage to Cuphead - a great video game which, in itself, is an homage to the golden era of American animation as well as one of the greatest eras in gaming. Here's hoping I'll be able to beat the damn thing one day.
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