Jerry Thomas may have coined the original milk punch recipe back in the 1800s — a six-hour steeping of milk, Jamaica rum, cloves, pineapple, Batavia Arrack, brandy, and a handful of other spices — but two plus centuries left us with a lot of time to catch up — and ante up — with a handful of variations. Whether they’re served on tap or in tea cups, here are five milk punches to check out now.
THE SILKEN ROAD at FORREST POINT
Inspired to create a drink that would pay homage to the Silk Road, the network of trade routes during the Han Dynasty of China, Gareth Howells came up with this libation, which brings together Bombay Sapphire East, Virgil Kaine Ginger Bourbon, lychee, lemongrass, Thai chili, milk-oolong tea, and coconut milk. The ingredients are served on the rocks with a garnish we couldn’t wait to crack into— a fortune cookie.
ENGLISH MILK PUNCH at ELEVEN MADISON PARK
This Michelin-starred restaurant takes its menu seriously, and drinks are no exception. Case in point with the English milk punch, a riff drummed up by bartenders Matt Seigel and Theo Leiberman. After warming up milk, lemon, Amontillado sherry, El Dorado 15-year-old rum and a homemade tea base, they filter it several times for a meticulously drawn and transparent take on the classic.
MATCHA MILK PUNCH at BAR GOTO
Milk punch gets a caffeinated overhaul over at this Lower East Side cocktail haven, where bartender Kenta Goto infuses vodka with sencha before shaking it with bright green matcha powder, half and half, and cane sugar syrup. He then strains it straight into a tea cup, resulting in a fun, Japanese twist on the classic American drink.
MILK PUNCH at DONNA
When creating a milk punch for this South Williamsburg hangout, bartender Collin Lawson knew he wanted to make it rum-forward — especially in honor of the Plantation Pineapple Rum that was recently released. He paired up that ingredient with Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum, Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, milk, In Pursuit of Tea Cacao Chai, and grapefruit juice for their take on the punch, which is kegged, drawn out of a draft line, and served on the rocks in a lime-garnished glass.
ENGLISH MILK PUNCH at DREXLER'S
In Alphabet City, bartender Dustin Olson provides patrons with a traditional clarified milk punch, which he confirms is based loosely on the Jerry Thomas California milk punch recipe — but with a decidedly winter profile. That shows up by way of Mistral 46 Pisco, Flor de Cana 5-year-old rum, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, cloves, earl grey tea, and milk — all on the rocks with shaved nutmeg.
By Nicole Schnitzler
(Photos from left: The Silken Road at Forrest Point; Matcha Milk Punch at Bar Goto; Milk Punch at Donna)