- Cocktails and Spirits
February 2, 2011
Milk meets brandy in this simple cocktail.
- 2 ounces brandy
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 4 ounces milk
- Ground nutmeg, for garnish
Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake well. Strain into a punch glass and dust with grated nutmeg to garnish
20 Classic Brandy Cocktails You Have to Try
Brandy is the star liquor in a number of classic cocktails, many of which have been lost to time and the pages of dusty bartending guides. A few of the best drinks have lasted through the years and remain favorites for many cocktail lovers.
These drinks are a nice introduction to mixing with brandy. They are also among the simplest recipes and used common bar ingredients as accents, so anyone can mix them up in minutes.
Watch Now: The Classic Sidecar Cocktail Recipe
- 3 cups cold whole milk
- 1 ½ cups (12 oz.) bourbon, chilled
- 1 ½ cups (12 oz.) brandy, chilled
- 1 ½ cups cold whole buttermilk
- ¾ cup honey
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 medium-size orange, thinly sliced
- Freshly grated nutmeg
Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a half-gallon pitcher until combined. Chill at least 30 minutes or up to 1 week. Pour into a punch bowl. Add cinnamon sticks and orange slices, and garnish with nutmeg. Serve over ice.
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Green Pastures' Milk Punch
Milk Punch is an historic recipe that passed from 17th century England into the parlours of the Old South. Green Pastures, one of Austin's oldest restaurants, honors this recipe by serving it every week as part of their Sunday brunch. It's a nice way to pass the time on a hot Texas afternoon.
- Combine ice cream, milk, bourbon, run, brandy and ice cubes in a blender. Blend until ice cream is liquefied and mixture has smooth texture of a thin milk shake. Serve in wine glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg.
- Serve in wine glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg.
- Makes about 5 cups.
Note: Freshly ground nutmeg always tastes better! This recipe was originally printed in the excellent book, Texas Old-Time Restaurants and Cafes.
Recipe editor Patricia Mitchell
All materials, including Grandma's Cookbook and its contents are © 2020 . Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Bourbon Milk Punch
New Orleans is known for a handful of classic drinks, including the Sazerac and Vieux Carré. But when the prior night’s extracurricular activities require a soothing pick-me-up, countless inhabitants of and visitors to the Crescent City opt for the fortifying charms of Milk Punch.
The Milk Punch is an old drink. Printed recipes date its invention to at least the 1600s, well before its association with New Orleans. But French Quarter establishments like Brennan’s and Arnaud’s French 75 Bar deserve credit for perfecting the version as it’s known today. The drink can be made with a variety of spirits, from French brandy (a classic choice) to all-American bourbon, as seen in this recipe from Sarah Baird, author of “New Orleans Cocktails.”
The Bourbon Milk Punch combines its namesake spirit with whole milk, simple syrup and vanilla extract. Freshly grated nutmeg dusts the top of the drink, providing a sprinkling of warm aromatics with each sip. Think of the cocktail like Eggnog without the egg. It’s meant to be rich and creamy, so whole milk is the way to go here. Low-fat milk and certainly skim milk will produce a thinner, less satisfying drink, so it’s best to leave those for cereal.
The Bourbon Milk Punch may be called on most often during brunch, but its comforting sensibilities also make it a great nightcap. Therein lies its super power: the ability to kickstart your day or gently bring it to a close.
Belle Annee on Brandy Milk Punch
New Orleans is full of rituals. There is early morning at Cafe Du Monde when the French Quarter businesses and residents are hosing off their sidewalks, washing down the sins from the night before and steadying themselves for a new batch of visitors. All Saints Day at the cemetery where you cut down, clean up and tidy around the ancient stone monuments to loved ones since passed. Thanksgiving at "The Track" when you wear a silly hat or posh fascinator purchased at Fleur de Paris, long drunken Friday lunches at Galatoire's, only ordering fish on Fridays and always having your red beans and rice on Mondays. And always, always, WWOZ on the radio.
Photo by Gabrielle Geiselman // www.gabriellegeiselman.com.
Then there are drinks. Drinks are a bit of a rite of passage. Hurricanes and Hand Grenades are the beverage of choice in college when you can miraculously survive the onslaught of cheep booze and bright artificial colors. Spicy Bloody Marys call Sunday home as you say goodbye to the weekend and prepare for the business ahead. Pimm's are very best in the heat of summer when the fruits that adorn them are at their ripest and juiciest. Sazaracs become the aperitif of choice once you establish an appreciation for whiskey and then, one day, you are turned onto the best daytime cocktail ever. Ever. The Brandy Milk Punch.
Like so many things in New Orleans the origins of Brandy Milk Punch were likely beyond the shores of America but it was the restaurateurs of the city that gave the drink a rebirth as the preemenint Brunch cocktail. Today's version is a combination of brandy (sometimes bourbon), milk, simple syrup and vanilla. It goes down smoothly and is appreciated by spirited young men, elegant elderly women and just about everyone in between.
The very best way to make Brandy Milk Punch is by the jar. My friend Julie does that and it has become her hostess gift when invited to dinner parties. You have never seen someone invited to as many dinner parties as Julie. If you are going to make it by the batch, like Julie, my favorite bottle is this one because it looks really nice and pours easily. You just need a funnel to fill it. You can also make it in Mason jars - easier to mix but not as neat to pour. Life is a trade off, ya know?
This is a fantastic cocktail for this time of year, when it's a little cold, a little wet, a little rainy and you just want to start your Sunday brunch a little later and enjoy it a little more.
Brandy Milk Punch By The Glass:
1 ounce simple syrup (if you are anywhere near New Orleans try to find Locally Preserved cane simple syrup - it is a little richer in flavor than regular simple syrup)
Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and add a cup of ice. Shake it until your arms hurt, then strain into a champagne coupe or strain over a fresh whiskey glass of ice. Top with fresh grated nutmeg.
Brandy Milk Punch By the 24-oz Bottle:
2 1/2 ounces whipping cream
Add ingredients into the bottle through a funnel. Give it a good shake and then put it in the freezer for one to two hours. Take it out, give it another shake and then show up at the dinner party of your choosing. Invited or not. It won't matter.
Always Order Dessert
When I asked for the check after breakfast that first morning in New Orleans, the waitress offered me my choice of a to-go cocktail. It took me by surprise until I remembered that in this city, sipping on the streets is not just allowed, it is encouraged.
As she rattled off the list of options, my ears perked at the mention of a Brandy Milk Punch.
I'd never had a brandy milk punch, though the name had certainly passed through the pages of stories I've read, and it always sounded like something I would like.
A chilled, sweet combination of cool milk, brandy, vanilla and fresh nutmeg, it was once common throughout the country, back when ladies wore long skirts and high necks, and punch bowl drinks were the fashion. Its popularity has long since dwindled, and the cocktail has been relegated to the backs of novelty paper place mats, and the occasional nostalgic Christmas magazine article.
Except in New Orleans, where the line between past and present is beautifully fuzzy, at best.
There, the cool, old fashioned beverage is sipped all year long, as common and current on brunch menus as Bloody Marys and Mimosas.
Everywhere we went, I spotted whole nutmeg seeds nestled comfortably between the lemon wedges, olives, and maraschino cherries. A carton of milk tucked in the fridge below the bar. And on the streets, condensation dripped off milky, brimming plastic cups held tight by tourists and locals alike.
I trusted my gut and ordered it, and then.
Reminiscent of eggnog, but lighter and fresher. Strangely and unexpectedly refreshing in the sweltering August sun, I finished mine while weaving through narrow, sun-cracked streets, and immediately started looking around for my next fix.
At Napoleon House, they're made with bourbon, which is good, but I prefer the grapes. At Stanley, they're made with brandy, and served both on the rocks, and as a more decadent milkshake. We didn't get to try it, but I heard that the one at Commander's Palace can't be beat.
Upon getting home, I set about making my own. I bought a bottle of good-enough brandy (the too-good stuff would just get lost in the dairy), and researched recipes.
Like just about everything in New Orleans, there seemed to be a dozen right answers. Some specified half & half. Others, heavy cream. For my version, I stuck with good, whole milk, with a generous splash of cream.
The methods also varied: Some called for shaking with cracked ice while others brought out the blender. One rather tempting method recommended freezing the whole concoction for 3 or so hours until slushy, but my impatience and eagerness to taste it again, meant that I went with the simplest route: a quick whisk poured over a tall glass filled with ice.
A perfect sip no matter the season, hour, or venue.
Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! F ollow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me . Thanks for reading!
New Orleans Brandy Milk Punch Recipe
Serves 2. Multiply as necessary.
1/2 cup brandy
1 1/2 cups very cold whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional replace with additional milk if desired)
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar (plus more to taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Scant pinch of kosher salt
Whole or ground nutmeg
In a pitcher, combine the brandy, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir vigorously until combined and frothy. Taste to adjust sweetness.
Fill two glasses with ice cubes and divide milk punch into the glasses. Top each with a generous grating or sprinkle of nutmeg, and serve immediately.
Got Clarified Milk?
“Milk punches can be a culinary obstacle for most, but it’s actually not that difficult when you have the right equipment and a good formula,” says bartender Diego Peña of the cocktail that is typically a time-consuming undertaking. In other words, if you have a cheesecloth, you can clarify your milk punch.
In the last decade, centrifuges may have simplified the task, but separating milk solids from the liquid is no modern-day invention—it dates back to the 1700s. “The process of clarifying removes color as well as tannins, leading to a rounded and rich drink without the heaviness of dairy,” explains Ryan Chetiyawardana, of the boundary-pushing Lyan bars in London. The versatile technique can be used in everything from a classic New Orleans–style brandy milk punch to a winterized take on the Piña Colada.
For most bartenders, the preferred at-home technique calls for gently heating milk over the stove before straining out the solids that form as the water content evaporates. Alex Anderson, of Cure in New Orleans, draws upon Scandinavian flavors in her Nordic Honey Punch, incorporating herbal-inflected aquavit and an aromatic garnish of dill. At Boston’s Eastern Standard, meanwhile, bar manager Peña takes inspiration from a London Fog (essentially an Earl Grey tea latte) with his Fog Lights Milk Punch, which calls for a warming blend of bourbon, brandy and rum alongside Earl Grey syrup.
“I find that most milk punches are on the wintry end of the spectrum—lots of rum, brandy and whiskey, with cloves and nutmeg,” says Matt Piacentini of The Up & Up in Manhattan, noting that those flavors typically work in tandem with the heavy, smooth textures that the milk punch application contributes to drinks. But veering away from the familiar, Piacentini’s Disco Volante is built on a foundation of Aperol and gin, reading more like a bracing, herbal aperitif with the added roundness of a milk punch.
At Mister Paradise in New York’s East Village, bartender Will Wyatt opts for a heatless technique akin to the first milk punches of the 18th century: He allows milk and lime juice to mingle until the mixture curdles on its own, then straining out the curds. He adds this to a reduced Coca-Cola syrup and Ceylon tea in the rum-based Sex Panther, a complex twist on the Cuba Libre that Wyatt describes as possessing “the same heart and soul” of the original.
Also forgoing the stovetop method, Chetiyawardana opts for yogurt whey (the watery result of straining full-fat yogurt for half an hour) to add richness in his wintry Whey Punch. Mixed with Scotch, maple syrup and rooibos tea, Chetiyawardana says that it maintains the spirit of a clarified milk punch despite the fast-tracked method, noting: “It still manages to get the silkiness you want to drink.”
It's Milk, Clearly
Whey Punch: A fast-tracked milk punch that opts for yogurt whey in place of milk. [Recipe]
Fog Lights Milk Punch: Bourbon, brandy and rum, tempered by Earl Grey tea. [Recipe]
Disco Volante: Built on Aperol and gin, the Disco Volante reads more like a bracing, herbal aperitif with the roundness of a milk punch. [Recipe]
Sex Panther: The spirit of a Cuba Libre in milk punch format. [Recipe]
Nordic Honey Punch: A Scandinavian-inspired milk punch, complete with aquavit and dill. [Recipe]
Brandy Milk Punch Recipe - Recipes
 What to serve before holiday dinners: Bourbon Milk Punch (photos #1 and #2 © Woodford Reserve.
 Woodford Reserve makes several expressions of Kentucky Bourbon, including a double-oaked version that’s a real find for oak lovers. They also distill malt, rye and wheat whiskeys.
 You can serve milk punch in whatever glasses you have, from rocks to stems to (of course) punch cups (photo © Bread Booze Bacon).
Milk punch falls in the category of drinks made with milk or cream.
Examples include the Brandy Alexander, Classic Ramos Gin Fizz, Grasshopper, Irish Coffee, Mudslide, Pink Squirrel, White Russian, and many others (hey—another idea for a themed cocktail party: cream-based cocktails).
Milk punch combines brandy or bourbon* with milk, sugar and vanilla extract, typically garnished with grated nutmeg.
FOOD TRIVIA: When cocktails were first being developed and spirits were not as elegant as many are today, sugar was added to cocktails to cover up the [bad] taste of the alcohol, as was milk.
The history of milk punch is below.
COCKTAIL RECIPE: BOURBON MILK PUNCH
Woodford Reserve Bourbon created this Milk Punch recipe (photo #1) using their Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (photo #2).
It’s a crowd pleaser that’s easy to make.
For the fresh-grated nutmeg garnish, just buy nutmeg “nuts” (they’re not nuts, but seeds that look like nuts)†.
Then, using a Microplane or similar tool at your disposal, freshly grate the garnish over each drink.
We personally use a nutmeg grinder that saves our fingertips, because the “nuts” aren’t easy to hold. It’s an inexpensive must-have if you use a lot of nutmeg.
1. PLACE a metal bowl over an ice bath. Whisk together the cream, milk, bourbon and sugar, until nice and frothy.
2. ADD the vanilla bean and pour into a pitcher (we used a lidded plastic container). Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
3. STRAIN out the vanilla bean through a fine mesh strainer and return to the pitcher for serving. (If you’ve used vanilla extract, skip this step).
4. POUR into glasses and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
MILK PUNCH HISTORY
Milk punch was popularized in the 17th century by Aphra Behn, one of the first English women to earn her living by her writing. At the time, all types of punch were served from a punch bowl.
The milk punch of the era was made with cream curdled with lemon juice. Those recipes gave way to milk punches that use(d) fresh milk or cream, like egg nog—which is a milk punch enriched with eggs.
Milk punches—egg nog or other—became holiday and celebratory traditions (for example, Mardi Gras).
In modern-day New Orleans, milk punches vie as brunch drinks with the Bloody Mary, created in 1940 in New York City (Bloody Mary history).
There are as many recipes for milk punch as for anything else, but for Mardi Gras we serve up the recipe from Brennan’s, a favorite New Orleans restaurant since 1946.
For a 17th-century-type recipe, try Benjamin Franklin’s recipe. He used brandy and included lots of lemon juice (which curdled the milk).
This, and other cognac-based milk punches, often use Napoleon brandy, a designation for a brandy or cognac aged at least five years. Feel free to use VSOP with all the cream and sugar, the nuances of the Napoleon will be covered up.
If you don’t like or don’t have brandy, you can substitute bourbon, rum, whiskey and even tequila.
Despite its name, nutmeg isn’t a nut. It’s really a seed. If you have a nut allergy, you may be able to eat nutmeg without any risk of an allergic reaction. However, if you have a seed allergy, you may need to avoid nutmeg since it’s technically from a seed.
*Bourbon is the traditional spirit, as is brandy. But you can substitute another whiskey or rum, and add some liqueur.
†Nutmeg is a spice made from the seed of the nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree. Native to Indonesia, it is the source of two popular spices: nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the inner seed, while mace is the red, lace-like substance that covers the seed.