It seems like it can’t possibly be the end of July already, and yet here we are with another Mixology Monday to prove it. Paul selected this month’s theme, New Orleans, knowing that those of us who attended Tales would already be thinking about going back. It took approximately three days of traffic and smog to kill whatever happy-to-be-home feelings I had, and I’m ready to head back to the Big Easy and relax a bit more.
Since that isn’t going to happen, I thought I’d conjure a little NOLA at home with the ubiquitous Brandy Milk Punch. Nearly every restaurant or bar we entered would make you a Brandy Milk Punch, but sadly I was unable to enjoy one in New Orleans (Brandy Soymilk Punch just doesn’t have the same ring to it). Despite that sad blip on my drinking record, I grabbed the blender and Microplane at home and set about recreating one in LA. Keeping with the Los Angeles/New Orleans/Tales theme, I used the recipe featured in Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails by Tales veteran and cocktail encyclopedia Ted Haigh.
Interestingly, the milk punch as a class of drinks came up in no fewer than three programs I attended at Tales. Jeff Berry touched on punches briefly when discussing the history of tiki cocktails, we were served variations on milk punches in a few seminars (damn you, missing soymilk!), and David Wondrich discussed the milk punch in “The Flowing Bowl.” Interestingly, the invention of the milk punch is credited to Aphra Behn—author, spy, bon vivant and general hell-raiser—a woman who lived a life fantastic enough to have created a punch that is so at home in colorful New Orleans.
1 oz brandy
½ oz dark rum
2 tsp simple syrup
2 dashes vanilla extract
4 oz unsweetened soymilk
Mix all ingredients together over shaved ice, grate some fresh nutmeg on top and serve in a tumbler.
Those of you who have had a Brandy Alexander will have a fair idea of what a Brandy Milk Punch tastes like. It’s not really hard to imagine what brandy, rum, milk and nutmeg taste like, but it is definitely good. Sipping one of these makes me want to eat a huge brunch outdoors on a wrap-around porch, or perhaps to curl up with a book by a fire on a cold night—neither of which are a bad idea. Regardless, the rum adds a little sugary funkiness to the brandy and milk, while the vanilla adds a little sweet flavor without making the drink taste like a glass of melted ice cream. If you have it available, definitely go with grating fresh nutmeg over the top; it adds an aromatic kick that ties everything together.