New Orleanians’ fascination with bourbon milk punch is legendary. The drink has evolved and has taken many forms, including hot, cold, and even frozen. What many aficionados may not know, is that their beloved beverage has a long lineage back to Medieval England, where spiced punches of clarified milk punch were all the rage. Of course, the English version is quite different from the creamy concoctions that are popular in the Crescent City.
Using a recipe that has remained largely unchanged for centuries, world-renowned bartender Paul Gustings serves up chilled glasses of crystal clear English Milk Punch in the stately Empire Bar in Broussard’s. After coming across Jerry Thomas’ seminal Bartender’s Guide, Paul became enamored with punches not only as novel concoctions, but as ways to use and reuse ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted.
“It was one of the first drinks that people made,” Paul says. “One of the reasons I like punches is that people were trying to use their leftovers. I’m a very firm believer in not throwing anything away. I make a Swedish punsch [liqueur] that has lemons, a lot of lemons, like a case of lemons. After I took them out of the punsch I had to figure out what to do with them. And this milk punch was perfect.”
Unlike many modern chefs and bartenders, Paul insists on presenting the recipe as it was written in the Bartender’s Guide, other than increasing the steeping time, which helps mellow out the flavors.
“Do I ever change it up? Nope, I leave it alone. It’s been around that long, why mess with it? If I wanted to do something completely different, I’d do something completely different and not call it English Milk Punch,” says Paul.
The whole process of preparing the drink can take up to 2 weeks (or as little as 6 hours), but the result is worth the wait. Paul’s English Milk Punch combines the sweetness of pineapple, some of the season’s best spices (cinnamon and cloves), and a smooth milky flavor that doesn’t carry the weight of an eggnog or bourbon milk punch. Straining the mixture at the end, when the milk has boiled and separated into curds and whey, is the most important step. Paul recommends patience during the three to four straining steps.
“Punches are the original drink,” says Paul. “[I like them for] the fact that things as opposite as green tea and pineapple and coriander actually get together, then you add hot milk to it, and this is the end result. One and one adds up to more than two.”
- Zest of 1 lemon, peeled in strips, removing pith
- Juice of 3 lemons, strained
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ pineapple, peeled, cored, diced, and pounded
- 3 whole cloves
- 10 coriander seeds
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 cup brandy
- 1 cup white rum
- ⅓ cup Batavia Arrack
- ½ cup brewed green tea
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 cups whole milk
- Juice of 1 lemon
- In a large nonreactive jar, combine lemon zest, juice of 3 lemons, sugar, pineapple, cloves,
- coriander, cinnamon, brandy, rum, arrack, green tea, and 2 cups boiling water. Stir until sugar dissolves. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 2 weeks. (The longer the mixture steeps, the smoother and more nuanced the flavor becomes.)
- In a medium pan, bring milk to a boil. Remove from heat, and add lemon juice; stir until curds and whey have separated. Carefully add to pineapple mixture.
- Strain mixture through a large-mesh sieve, discarding solids. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter or double layer of cheesecloth. Replace lining as needed. Cover and refrigerate until remaining sediment settles. Ladle or slowly pour mixture into a new clean jar, leaving sediment behind. Discard sediment. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Serve in a Nick and Nora glass.
Harry Yee invented the Blue Hawaii in 1957 at the Hawaiian Village Hotel on Waikiki Beach, reportedly to use up all the Blue Curaçao liqueur that no one could figure out what to do with. He mixed it with vodka and sweet-and-sour mix and created an instant sensation, which achieved immortality as the title of a hit Elvis Presley movie. The original drink was thin, and sweet-and-sour mix is a craft cocktail no-no for a very good reason, so Jeff “Beachbum” Berry of Latitude 29 in New Orleans added body with some coconut cream, and replaced the sour mix with fresh lemon juice. As with all Tiki drinks, it’s a “vacation in a glass,” that you can take any time you choose. Aloha!
- 2 ounces wheat vodka*
- 1 ounce coconut cream
- ¾ ounce unsweetened pineapple juice
- ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup crushed ice
- ¾ ounce blue curaçao*
- Garnish: pineapple wedge or paper parasol
- In the container of a blender, combine vodka, coconut cream, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and crushed ice. Blend until combined. Pour into a snifter. Fill with ice cubes. Pour in curaçao so that it streaks down sides of glass. Garnish with a paper parasol or a pineapple wedge, if desired.
- *We used Aylesbury Duck Vodka and Bols Blue Curaçao.
by Annene Kaye-Berry
If you’re looking to add a touch of class to your bar cart and expand your repertoire of crowd-pleasing cocktail recipes, look no further than The Coupe: Celebrating Craft Cocktails and Vintage Collections (Hoffman Media, 2016), in which Brian Hoffman presents readers with a beautifully designed, comprehensive guide to the classic wide-rimmed, short-stemmed glass.
The Coupe begins with an enthralling history of the cocktail glass written by Patrick Dunne, proprietor of Lucullus in New Orleans. Recipes are categorized by their base, such as sparkling wine, vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and whiskey. The book includes cocktail recipes from acclaimed restaurants and bars all over the United States and even one in London. You’ll find instructions for making cocktails from several New Orleans establishments, including the Strawberry Sparkler and Caribbean Milk Punch from Brennan’s, and the Jason’s Ascension, 1988 from Cure.
It doesn’t stop at cocktail recipes, though. The Coupe gives pointers for making beautiful citrus garnishes and flavor-infused simple syrups. The book also includes tips for accessorizing your home bar, building your own collection of coupe glasses, and even recipes for indulgent desserts served in the glasses, such as Sabayon with Fresh Berries and Turtle Brownies. Cheers!
Order your copy today here or by calling 800.361.8059.
- 3 ounces fresh watermelon juice
- 1½ ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka
- ½ to ¾ ounce Campari
- ½ ounce fresh lime juice
- 1 to 2 ounces chilled sparkling water
- Garnish: sliced watermelon
- In a cocktail shaker fi lled with ice, add watermelon juice, vodka, Campari, and lime juice. Shake to combine, and strain into a coupe glass. Top with sparkling water, and garnish with a watermelon slice, if desired.
When looking to escape the hustle and bustle of New Orleans, many cocktail aficionados turn back the clock by stepping up to the bar at Bellocq. This cozy lounge in the newly remodeled Hotel Modern was conceived by Neil Bodenheimer, Kirk Estopinal, and Matthew Kohnke—the team who created Cure—and captures the spirit of a pre-Prohibition vibe with cobblers, punches, and concoctions such as this lovely midwinter Champagne cocktail.
- 1 sugar cube
- 6 drops Campari
- 12 drops rose water
- Champagne, chilled
- Garnish: twisted orange peel or edible rose petals
- To a small bowl, add the sugar cube. Place Campari and rose water on the sugar cube. Fill a Champagne flute or coupe glass with Champagne. Drop the sugar cube in the glass. Garnish with a twisted orange peel or rose petals lightly misted with rose water.
- 2 ounces Cayenne Vodka (recipe follows)
- 1 ounce vodka*
- 2 tablespoons Cilantro Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
- ½ cup fresh satsuma juice*
- 1 sprig fresh cilantro
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodkas, Cilantro Simple Syrup, and satsuma juice; cover and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
- *We used Oryza Vodka. Tangerine juice can be substituted for satsuma.
- 2 fresh cayenne peppers, halved lengthwise* (or more, if desired)
- 1 (1-liter) bottle Oryza Vodka
- In a large clean jar, add peppers and vodka. Cover and let stand at least 3 days.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, and discard solids. Pour vodka back into the bottle and seal. The vodka will keep at room temperature for 3 to 6 months. If vodka tastes too spicy, add additional vodka.
- *Jalapeño peppers may be substituted.
- 4 sprigs fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup raw cane sugar
- In a medium heatproof bowl, add cilantro. In a 1-quart saucepan, add 1 cup water and sugar, and heat over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour sugar mixture over cilantro, and stir to combine. Let stand 1 hour. Line a strainer with a moistened coffee filter. Strain syrup, discarding solids. Let cool before using. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.
- 2 lemon quarters
- 1½ ounces vodka
- ½ cup Proud Mary Mix (recipe follows)
- 3 dashes hot sauce
- Smoked salt
- Garnish: lime wedge, pickled okra, bread and butter pickles, and snack stick
- In a large cocktail shaker, add lemon, and muddle. Add vodka, Proud Mary Mix, and hot sauce. Fill with ice. Cover and shake vigorously; pour mixture into a glass. Season with smoked salt, and garnish with lime wedge and pickles, if desired. Stir together with a snack stick.
- 1 (46-ounce) can V-8 Vegetable Juice
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1½ ounces pork stock*
- 1½ ounces fresh lime juice
- 2½ ounces fresh lemon juice
- 3½ ounces hot sauce
- 2 ounces Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce
- 1 ounce Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ounce olive brine
- ½ ounce bread and butter pickle juice
- ½ ounce sherry vinegar
- In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week. Stir before using.
- *Chicken broth may be substituted.
- 2 ounces Community® Cold Brew
- 2 teaspoons cherry syrup
- 2 tablespoons Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
- 1 cup tonic water
- Garnish: maraschino cherries
- In a tall glass, combine Community® Cold Brew, cherry syrup, and Simple Syrup. Top with tonic water. Garnish with cherries, if desired.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool completely.
- 2 cups Community® coffee French Roast grounds
- 6 cups cold water
- In a container with a fitted lid, mix together coffee grounds and 6 cups cold water, being sure to wet all grounds. Refrigerate overnight. Strain mixture twice through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids. Cover and store for up to 2 weeks.
- Kitchen Tip: Community® Cold Brew is a coffee concentrate. For an iced beverage, use 2 to 4 ounces depending on desired strength.