January 29th, 2009

Milk punch

Ben Franklin’s milk punch recipeIt’s one of the oddest drinks I’ve ever tasted. And I mean that in a good way. I first had milk punch (not to be confused with the simpler concoction of brandy, rum or bourbon, sugar, whole milk and nutmeg served over crushed ice) at a Stir class last winter. It was sweet, velvety, rich … and confusing. That’s because, though it’s made with milk, it’s somewhere between translucent and transparent. In other words, not at all “milky.” Leave it to the bartenders at Drink to reintroduce this punch, which takes two days to make, to the modern imbiber. I write a short introduction to one of their recipes, Rum-Hibiscus Milk Punch, in today’s online Globe.

There are many variations on the basic milk punch recipe. The drinkboston punch party at Eastern Standard in June featured Milk Punch No. 1 from the Savoy Cocktail Book. Aphra Behn, a 17th-century English dramatist and novelist and allegedly the first woman to make a living as a writer, is credited with inventing milk punch, or at least having the first widely publicized recipe for it. Whatever its origins, it became well known enough during the 18th century for Benjamin Franklin to share a recipe for milk punch with James Bowdoin during his 1763 stay in Boston.

Franklin’s Milk Punch recipe shares characteristics of two types of beverages — possets and syllabubs,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Wow. I am so looking forward to walking into a Boston bar and ordering possets and syllabubs.

Permalink | Filed under Brandy, Cocktails, drinkboston in the news, Punch, Rum | Tags: ,

9 Responses to “Milk punch”

  1. Paul

    Misty gave me a taste of the coffee milk punch in November, and I’ve been hooked ever since. She shared the recipe, and I nearly screwed up a giant batch in December but managed to salvage it (note to self: cheesecloth doesn’t work for straining milk solids; go for the muslin). Once I finally finish it off, I’m rarin’ to start experimenting my way through other versions; Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Guide has several recipes, if memory serves, and I’ve got a few things I’d like to try. Thanks for giving this beautiful drink a little attention.

  2. ljclark

    Thanks for chiming in and letting us know of your experiments, Paul. The next time you’re in town without notifying me, we’re going to have to step outside.

  3. Paul

    If only I’d had the good fortune to be in Boston — I ran into Misty in New York, and like any sensible person she was packin’ punch. Hopefully I’ll get out there sometime this year.

  4. Adam

    Thanks for the heads up! I’ve been thinking about milk punch since that Eastern Standard event and keep meaning to try making some. But if I can have someone else make it for me, all the better.

  5. Underhill-Lounge » Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch

    [...] also recently read on Lauren Clarke’s blog, (Milk Punch,) that bartenders at Drink in Boston (well, Fort Point,) were experimenting with a Hibiscus Milk [...]

  6. Amanda

    Hmm, does Drink serve this regularly, or if I want to try some, do I have to be lucky about place and time?

  7. ljclark

    Amanda, I believe it’s mostly a wintertime thing for Drink, but I could be wrong. Next time you go, be sure to ask if they have any.

  8. Randy

    Actually they have it almost all the time. Right now they have Mary Rockett’s and Sam’s Clemintine milk punches. Two weeks ago they had some of the rum hibiscus milk punch (my personal favorite). Also check out Frederic’s blog: http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/search/label/%23drink … I know he’s written about it too.

  9. mary winkler

    Misty gave me a taste of the coffee milk punch in November, and I’ve been hooked ever since. She shared the recipe, and I nearly screwed up a giant batch in December but managed to salvage it (note to self: cheesecloth doesn’t work for straining milk solids; go for the muslin). Once I finally finish it off, I’m rarin’ to start experimenting my way through other versions; Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Guide has several recipes, if memory serves, and I’ve got a few things I’d like to try. Thanks for giving this beautiful drink a little attention.

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