Despite its name, the cocktail is usually crystal clear and bears no resemblance to dairy products, even though you need milk to make it.
Dating from 18th-century England and Colonial America, clarified milk punch is slowly regaining popularity on craft cocktail menus. Making it feels more like a science project than mixing up a cocktail.
Here’s how it works. The basic process is to start with a blend of spirits, fruit juices, and spices, then add milk or half-and-half. When the dairy meets the acidic alcoholic mixture, it curdles. That’s when the magic of science happens. The proteins coagulate and the whole thing looks a mess. When you strain the mixture, however, the curdled solids separate out leaving the luscious fat behind with the drink.
The resulting liquid becomes a clear cocktail with a remarkably silky smooth texture when you sip it. Since you need the fat to get the effect, don’t be tempted to use low-fat or skim milk. This recipe is from John Preston Moore of Mojo’s Bar-B-Q and President of the US Bartenders Guild Jacksonville, Florida Chapter.
Note that the curdled mixture is very fragile; be gentle when straining it.
This recipe first appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of Edible Northeast Florida.
Clarified English Milk Punch
- 8 lemons
- 1 pineapple
- 1 pound sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 cloves
- 20 coriander seeds
- 1 ounce Peychaudís bitters
- 2 ounces absinthe
- 1 cup arrack
- 2 1/2 cups rum*
- 2 1/2 cups cognac*
- 2 1/2 cups brewed green or black tea
- 2 cups boiling water
- 5 cups whole milk
- Zest the lemons (removing only the yellow part of the peel) and juice them. Peel and cut pineapple into large chunks. Put them in a large bowl. Coarsely grind the cinnamon, clove, and coriander seeds into the bowl. Add the lemon peels, lemon juice, pineapple chunks, ground spices, and sugar. Muddle the mixture using a potato masher or large fork.
- Add the bitters, absinthe, arrack, cognac, and rum. Stir to combine. Add the green tea and boiling water. Cover and let sit overnight in the refrigerator to infuse the flavors.
- Once infused, strain the mixture into a pitcher or other vessel. Discard the solids.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and add to the strained mixture. The milk will begin to curdle. Gently stir to combine.
- Slowly strain the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Repeat straining two or three times. You want a clear liquid.
- Serve immediately or store the clarified punch in a sterilized glass bottle in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
- To serve, pour 3 ounces of milk punch over a large ice cube and garnish with a lemon peel and freshly grated nutmeg.