When we first heard the term “milk punch,” a White Russian came to mind, as well as a swath of over-sweetened versions of boozy hot cocoa.
Milk punch is in a different universe.
It’s a traditional method (one popular recipe comes straight from Benjamin Franklin) in which milk is used not an ingredient but as a clarifying agent.
To make milk punch, add warm milk to a batched cocktail made with citrus juice, to intentionally curdle it. Then stir the mixture and let it stand for up to 24 hours.
After the concoction is double-strained through a filter, the mixture is a perfectly clear pastel liquid, tinted so softly, it’s as if you’re looking at a memory of the ingredients.
More a formula than a recipe, milk punches can be adapted according to ingredients that are on hand or in season. Once made, it keeps indefinitely without refrigeration and makes for a convenient upscale cocktail for guests.
Why try it? Because milk washing, as it’s called, removes tannins and other harsh flavors, resulting in a round, mellow flavor. It also binds clouding agents, which is why the strained cocktail becomes so alluringly clear. Find out more about the process in our favorite article on the subject, here: