The Milk Punch Experiment
Updated: Mar 29
The holy grail of classic cocktails from the “Golden Age” of cocktails. It’s really a mystery & interesting if you look back at history knowing that 120 years ago we hadn’t yet managed developed commercial refrigeration, fruits were only available in season & yet some crazy nutcase decided to add milk to an alcoholic beverage then mix it with citrus & filter the whole thing to create one of the tastes beverages in the old school bartenders arsenal.
Yet there still is a particular aura of mystery that surrounds even punches as a drink category. The prep involved in creating quality punches on the daily & even the additional labour involved with curdling & straining milk punch requires space & most importantly time. Although now technically a part of the bartenders arsenal punches still elude the cocktail menus of many bars around the world.
So how about we just jump right into it?
- The Milk Punch -
The history of the milk punch is thought to date back to England in the 1700’s, although its origins are elusive. It is a milk based punch drink consisting of spirit, sweetening agent (or liqueur), mixed with milk, cream eggs or yoghurt, finished with a little spice. As noted in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1873: “Milk Punch is the surest thing in the world to get drunk on, and so fearfully drunk, that you wont know whether you are a cow, yourself, or some other foolish thing”.
Regardless of the elusive specifics the drink we want to focus on today is none of than the ‘Clarified Milk Punch’ that is slowly becoming more & more in vogue around the European bar community. Some of the rules that surround this subcategory of the milk punch family as well as some of the potential future evolutions of what milk punch could be & where it could go to develop. After all, the possibilities are always endless!
- The Basic Premise - You take the standard idea for a cocktail based on the punch so in our case spirit, spice, sweetener & dairy. Here the original drink needs to be full on in flavour with a concentrated specific flavour profile since the milk will be clarifying & toning down some of the harsher notes. The difficulty with the milk punch is that its definitely a one-shot process kind of like the distillation of gin except in theory you can always redistill a bad batch whilst ‘fixing’ a bad batch of milk punch is a very difficult process. One of out favourite bartenders around the world Maros Dzurus was nice enough to submit a milk punch recipe from Himkok in Norway, one of the worlds 50 best bars none the less!