Milk Punch

Milk Punch post image

It’s Mixology Monday and once again we’re coming in at the last possible second to get another great rum cocktail turned in on time.  It’s not that I don’t plan ahead.  I honestly do.  It’s more that planning does not equal doing.  As the saying goes, the path to the bar is paved with good intentions (I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes).

Mixology Monday XLVII (MXMOXLVII!) is being hosted by Hobson’s Choice.  The rules this month are  pretty simple: make a punch.  There were other guidelines of course, but this being a simple month, they only occupied about a page and a half, including a bit of wisdom from one David Wondrich:

The thing I like to keep in mind while making Punch is that it…should be balanced, not too pungent, not too strong, and preferably not decked out in all sorts of gaudy frippery like something participating in the retail sex trade.

Wondrich, author of Imbibe! , is one of the people most responsible for our current cocktail renaissance.  If you’re looking for an expert on punch you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more qualified than Dave.

Milk_Punch_BoxedMilk Punch

2 oz Brandy
1 oz Aged Rum
1 tsp Superfine Sugar
1 oz Shaved Ice

Pour ingredients other than milk into your shaker and then top off with milk.  Shake vigorously and strain into a large glass.  Grate fresh nutmeg on top and enjoy.

I’ve been reading and hearing about milk punch ever since I was pulled into the cocktail world by nefarious powers much stronger than I.  Every new classic cocktail book or reprint of a really, really classic cocktail book I open has the same recipe over and over and over again.

Milk Punch has been around since at least the early 18th Century – nearly as long as we’ve had rum to make it with!  The mixture of rum, brandy, sugar, and spice with cream or milk should sound familiar as we find winter coming to an end.  Were drinks animals, this would be perhaps the closest relative and possibly even an ancestor of our still very common Eggnog.

Ingredient-wise the original recipe calls for Santa Cruz rum, a rum that has sadly disappeared from our shelves.  I’ve seen numerous discussions about preferred replacements.  I don’t know what the proper one is for general Santa Cruz replacements, but for the milk punch I have to agree with Dave Wondrich (that guy seems to know a thing or two about drinks) that a rich, aged rum is the way to go.

I’d recommend going with El Dorado 15 Year Old, Zaya, or even a dark spiced rum like Kraken to give this drink a cocoa-like richness that otherwise isn’t present.  Make sure you use fresh nutmeg on the top, and Dave recommends serving with a straw, probably to keep those bits of nutmeg out of your teeth.

Personally I’d rather drink some good eggnog, but this somewhat lighter punch in the place of a flip is still damn good and something I have a feeling I’ll be toying with for a while.


Question of the Day:

What’s your favorite punch?

The thing I like to keep in mind while making Punch is that it is, as the London Physician Nicholas Falck defined it in 1779, ‘an extemporary kind of wine.’ It is not, in other words, simply a large cocktail. Like wine, it should be balanced, not too pungent, not too strong, and preferably not decked out in all sorts of gaudy frippery like something participating in the retail sex trade.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Arctic Wolf

    March 22, 2010, 22:00

    I find it truly refreshing that you are recommending a great rum like ED15 for this punch. The next time I get an earful from some know it all who is mad that I am mixing my premium rums into a cocktail I can say truthfully that I am only following Rumdood’s example!

    And just for the record, Milk Punch with Cognac and ED 15 Rocks!

  • Tiare

    March 23, 2010, 02:45

    El Dorado 15..i hear you!

    And damn i missed this MxMo bec… well… bec??? i`m a nuthead i guess.


  • Matt Robold

    March 23, 2010, 07:23

    Chip: I’m a big proponent of using great spirits to make great cocktails. You’re talking to the guy that made a Mai Tai with Appleton Estate 21 Year Old and Clement XO!

  • Dave

    March 23, 2010, 10:24

    I still haven’t found a good brandy to mix with around here, but this looks like a great excuse to just take the plunge and grab a bottle.

    While it probably doesn’t really fit what you are after, I am a big fan of Ti Punch. 🙂

    Excellent post, and thank you for suggesting some rums to try with this recipe. I appreciate it!


  • Carly

    April 2, 2010, 08:59

    I’ll have to try this out. I’m a big fan of milk punch generally. I’ve never been able to get over my generalized distaste for eggnog — maybe it’s the fact that after years of being told it wasn’t what it sounds like, I learned that it was in fact exactly what it sounds like.

  • AlchemistGeorge

    April 5, 2010, 21:19

    I’ve seen milk punch recipes forever, and never tried them. Now I’m more inspired.

    My favorite punch? Fish House Punch. I do want to try aging it, and there are a few twists in Wondrich’s recipe I haven’t done – ‘making the oleo-saccharum”. (page 92)

    We are HUGE eggnog fans, and make ‘Grand Mal’ eggnog every winter.

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