Monday, July 7, 2014

[Cocktail Log] Milke Punch Take 1

On a recent visit to The Punch Room in London, I had a spectacular milk punch. I'd see the Milk Punch in a dozen old recipe books but never paid much attention. Frankly, the recipe looks like madness usually and I don't often feel the need to make a pitcher of drinks a week ahead of time.

Inspired, however, I decided to start playing with this. A couple things I found in doing my homework:
  • There are two basic types of milk punch. The "bourbon milk punch" or "new orleans milk punch" is a simple combination of milk, bourbon, sugar, and spices. The other kind is what I've take to calling "clarified milk punch" or "london milk punch". This is what I'm really after, and involves curdling the milk and straining out the curds, leaving only the whey in the drink. The drink itself usually ends up being clear!
  • The punching process apparently makes the drink cellar-stable, so olden folkes used it to get rid of milk before it expired and to create an easy on-hand drink for groups.
  • Most famous recipes: Ben Franklin's and Jerry Thomas's
  • Sure, you intentionally curdle milk to make this, but the weirdest part to me? It almost always calls for Arrack. Baffling.
  • Nobody has found any use for the alcohol-washed cheese that is a byproduct of the process, which is sad.
So, to start with I found the simplest milk punch recipe I could find (, a rum and black tea based one from Serious Eats. (Milk used: homogenized whole milk. Rum: Cruzan aged white).

Regrettably, I didn't get pictures of the process (next time I will! It's neat and gross!), here is the final product:

After about 36 hours in the 'fridge. Not as clear as expected, I'll have to experiment with the filtering process. This was sent through about 4 course layers of cheesecloth (and metal strainer) while in the 'fridge.

Straight and with some soda water.

As for how it tastes:
OH SO SWEET. I was a little suspicious of the whopping 3 cups of simple syrup that the recipe calls for, but i figured Serious Eats knew what they were doing. NOPE. Way, way too sweet. Adding some soda water helps a lot, and makes it (to my taste) drinkable. LisaBit can take it straight and good for her. 

The mouthfeel is very nice. Not gomme-syrup thick but a little oily in a way that works. The tea flavor doesn't come through as strongly as I would have liked, though it's definitely there in the nose (and so good). 

Overall: I'd give it another try (with less simple) for sure. However, I think the next one I try will be taken from this excellent blog.