The milk punch family is divided into two main braches: whole and strained. The sort of milk punch you’re likely to encounter in New Orleans is what I call a whole-milk punch. Such a punch might be made with cream or milk, but the result is creamy, boozy, and takes on the color of the dairy that goes into it. Egg nog, brandy milk punch, bourbon milk punch, or even LSU Tiger’s milk punch are fair examples. In rare cases they are aged, but generally are served soon after mixing the ingredients.
The other sort is a strained milk punch. These have fallen from fashion and you’re less likely to encounter one. These are generally aged and mixed with high-acid citrus (such as lemon) that curdle the milk. They are then strained through filters such as flannel, cheesecloth, or paper. Fernand Point’s Liqueur du Grapillon is one example. Old American recipes for English or Italian lemonade call for the same technique: Mix sugar, lemon, milk, and sometimes spirits, let it stand to curdle, then strain and age the liquid. When it’s ready to drink, the resulting beverage is clear — though possibly colored by the spirits or other ingredients such as hibiscus.
Thumbing through the 1915 Pan-Pacific Cookbook, I came across a recipe for such a strained milk punch. I haven’t tried it yet, but the recipe is certainly older than 1915 and not particularly Egyptian. For the record, here’s
Pare the thin rinds of eighteen lemons into a stone jar and cover with five pints each of Jamaica rum and whiskey; cover and let stand for thirty hours; add the lemon juice, three pounds of loaf sugar, two grated nutmegs, four quarts of water and, last, two quarts of boiling milk. Let it stand for half an hour, then mix well and strain — first, through a flannel bag and then through filter paper. Pout into bottles and cork tightly. The punch will be of light amber color and very clear. It improves with age.
Goes well with:
- Erik Ellestad has written about about strained milk punches at Underhill Lounge. He's not the first to write about Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch, but I do like his photos.
- Fernand Point’s Liqueur du Grapillon
- Bourbon House in New Orleans once served cantaloupe bourbon milk punch. It's not an everyday offering, but check in during warm weather and you might just find it churning away in the freezer behind the bar.
- A brochure from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition — the Pan-Pacific in the cookbook's title — held in San Francisco (from the Museum of the City of San Francisco).