Let’s head to the Dominican Republic for a cocktail called morir soñando, a signature drink from this region of the globe. Morir soñando has also become popular in New York. Let’s sip it happily while sunbathing on a Dominican beach.
What is the origin of morir soñando?
No one can say with certainty where morir soñando originated. What is certain is that this drink has emerged recently. In New York, some establishments have made it their signature drink and boast that they serve the best morir soñando in the city.
It is a cocktail prepared with orange juice, cane sugar syrup (or cane sugar), milk (or evaporated milk) and crushed ice. Also, the alcoholic version of this cocktail has a lot of success. A citrus liquor found in the Caribbean is generally added.
In New York, the Dominican neighborhood is located north of Manhattan in Washington Heights since 1980. It was a poor neighborhood and drug trafficking flourished there until the 2000s. Urban renovations initiated in the early 2000s to improve the quality of life in this district has given way, little by little, to Ecuadorians.
To date, Dominicans still represent 73% of the population of Washington Heights. The rest of the Dominican population in New York is concentrated mainly in the neighborhoods of Morris Heights, University Heights (in the west) and more recently in the Bronx.
The Washington Heights neighborhood is commonly known as Little Dominican Republic. In the streets, you can let yourselves be carried away by the sound of merengue. Speaking English seems completely useless in this neighborhood as everyone speaks Spanish!
In Spanish, morir soñando literally means “to die while dreaming”. It is quite a sweet morbid way to describe a cocktail. Also, this name derives from the relaxation state that one experiences when drinking it. The acidity of the orange juice is tempered by the presence of milk. You can let yourselves be lulled by the sweet and creamy combination formed by these two enemy ingredients, so much so that you could indeed die while dreaming.
How to prepare a perfect morir soñando?
As mentioned earlier, this drink consists of four key ingredients: freshly squeezed orange juice, milk, crushed ice and cane syrup. The logic would suggest that it would be simple to mix all of them at once but it is all in the preparation of this drink. It’s quite an art to prepare a perfect morir soñando!
The risk of missing this cocktail arises when adding the milk. It could coagulate in contact with the acidity of the citrus (oranges). A chemical acid coagulation reaction occurs when the milk protein (casein) is denatured on contact with an acidic component such as orange juice. As milk is an emulsion, it is the formation of casein micelles that allows the homogeneity of the milk and the stabilization of its liquid state.
When the milk is acidified, the negative charge that separates the casein components from each other is neutralized. The proteins are aggregated and solid particles appear in the milk, contributing to the acidic coagulation of milk. This process is used in cheese technology (fermentation) or in certain culinary preparations.
Whoever prepares a morir soñando does not want to commit this mistake as the chemical reaction of acidic coagulation is an irreversible reaction. Nothing is more unpleasant than ending up with pieces of curdled milk floating on the surface. In addition, if the milk coagulates, the flavors evaporate. The cocktail then becomes sour and unpleasant to the palate. There are several recipes of morir soñando and everyone prides themselves to have the best preparation technique. The taste of the cocktail varies from one recipe to another and depends on the proportions of milk and orange juice. Usually, you should add more orange juice than milk.
Is there a miracle way to mix the ingredients? Is there a secret that experts use and keep to themselves? How do you avoid the coagulation of milk when preparing morir soñando for the first time?
There are two common ways to proceed. The first one consists in first mixing the orange juice and the sugar. Then the crushed ice, and finally the milk little by little. When the orange juice and sugar syrup are added, the orange juice is not diluted with milk or ice. Then you have to introduce the ice. And the milk must be incorporated with caution last as mentioned in the recipe.
The method of preparation I used starts with the addition of cane sugar in the milk. We then introduce the ice, then the orange juice little by little.
Whichever method you choose, do not directly mix the milk and orange juice if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises!
The variants of morir soñando
There are several variants of morir soñando with citrus fruits typical of the region.
– Morir soñando con naranjas: the traditional orange-based cocktail
– Morir soñando de chinola: passion fruit (grenadilla) based version
– Morir soñando de limón: lime-based variant
Some morir soñando recipes use evaporated milk instead of traditional milk. Finally, some people like the addition of vanilla extract in the beverage.
We wish you good luck in preparing this cocktail. Just follow the steps of the recipe. Salud!
This recipe is validated by our Dominican culinary expert, Chef Carlos Estevez. Chef Carlos is the Caribbean Director for the Professional Gastronomic Council of the Americas, as well as the President for the Bocuse D’Or Academy of the Dominican Republic.
- 3½ cups evaporated milk (very cold)
- ¾ cup cane sugar
- 3 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (about 5 lb/2,5kg oranges)
- A few drops of vanilla extract (optional)
- Crushed ice
- Refrigerate the oranges for 2 hours before squeezing.
- Mix the evaporated milk, vanilla extract (optional) and cane sugar.
- Add the crushed ice and stir.
- Slowly pour the orange juice into the milk without stirring.
- Serve immediately.