Recipes Drinks Cocktails Classic Cocktails

Milk Punch

This booze-forward, slightly spicy and easy-to-make drink is a traditional brunch-time sipper but it’s delicious any time of day or night.

Milk Punch
Gabe Rodriguez

The Brandy Milk Punch is a classic cocktail with an alluring richness, silky sweetness, and a subtle, unmistakable kick. It’s a New Orleans brunch standard for all the right reasons.

 A cousin of the more popular Eggnog, this creamy, deep-flavored, suggestively spiced sipper is as well-suited for nightcaps as it is for a slightly boozy brunch. It is deceptively strong, and memorably delicious, with a sweet and silky texture thanks to a simple splash of cream or milk. The milk amplifies the vanilla and fresh apple notes of cognac, as well as the dark molasses or stewed banana taste of Jamaican rum.

 The Best Alcohol for Milk Punch

For the most nuanced, even elegant milk punch, start with brandy; more specifically, cognac. Cognac is to brandy what champagne is to sparkling wine: named for the region where it’s made. And as with champagne, the specifics make enough of a difference when it comes to quality and complexity.

  • Pierre Ferrand Ambre is a shockingly affordable cognac. Sweet vanilla, apricot, and pear on the nose, it has a deep and complex flavor that is less tannic than most cognacs, with the suggestion of fresh fruit rounding out and making it a more supple taste.

 Jamaican Rum is molasses fermented dark rum that plays the most luscious counterparts to brandy in this drink, bringing it more body and depth.

  • Appleton Estate Reserve Blend is nuanced blend of some 20 aged rums, Appleton has a bright freshness to its molasses, and leans more toward grassy notes rather than the stewed banana notes of many Jamaican rums.
  • Myers’ Rum has a rich, brown sugar-on-black pepper quality to its dark coloring and is our most common go-to for this Milk Punch cocktail.
Milk Punch
Gabe Rodriguez

 Why Add Milk to Your Cocktail?

One of the earliest known printed recipes for Milk Punch can be found in “Professor” Jerry Thomas’s Bar-Tenders’ Guide of 1862, but 700 years earlier you would have found people adding milk to unquestionably funky or “medicinal” spirits to make them more palatable.

Today that modest portion of milk (or cream) is appreciated for contributing a silky texture, subtle viscosity, and body to the drink, transforming it into a richer, higher fat cocktail that carries more flavors over the tongue.

This recipe is written for whole milk, but half-and-half and even heavy cream will add more richness; it might even be a better balance due to the higher proportion of alcohol in this recipe. That being said, the heavier the milk or cream, the more it may overshadow the flavors of the spirits.

 Non-Dairy Milk Options

Nut Milks, with more oils than many other non-dairy milks, better “mimic” the texture of fresh cream, and carry over the flavor. But milks tend to have a thinner texture, and might call for a greater proportion, but they contribute their own sweetness along with that grassy nuttiness. Almond milk in particular may work with this diverse group of spirits.

Rice Dream Milk adds more sweetness, and still manages to keep the drink lighter than whole milk or most nut milks.

Milk Punch
Gabe Rodriguez

Milk Punch Variations:

If you’re looking to expand your Milk Punch experience experiment with any of the recipes below:

Brandy Alexander: An indulgent classic combining cognac, crème de cacao and cream.

Bourbon Milk Punch: Outside of New Orleans, you’re more likely to see this variation, with bourbon’s hints of maple replacing cognac’s suggestion of fresh apples or apricot.

Eggnog: Made well or made poorly, eggnog (or “egg milk punch”) is but one more variation of the standard.

New York Flip: At its core a “flip” (spirit, sugar, and egg), the New York Flip adds cream to bourbon, tawny port, and an egg yolk for a decadent take on the classic Flip.

White Tiger’s Milk: From Thomas Dunn English, a friend of Edgar Allen Poe, substitute Applejack and peach brandy with the whole milk, adding egg white and a dash of Angostura bitters.

More Delicious Cocktail Recipes

Milk Punch

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Serving 1 cocktail
This recipe is for a somewhat boozier drink than you’ll often find, but for good reason. This keeps it firmly within the realm of true cocktails, rather than having this recipe be a cheekily spiked glass of milk. If you prefer a creamier drink, feel free to increase the diary to 2 or 2 1/2 ounces.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 ounces Cognac
  • 1 1/4  ounces Jamaican rum
  • 1 1/4  ounces whole milk, half and half or cream
  • 3/4 ounces simple syrup

Method

  1. Add ingredients to shaker:

    Combine ingredients into a shaker filled with ice, shaking until cold to the touch.

    A shot is poured into a glass to make Brandy Milk Punch.
    Sam Schick
  2. Strain cocktail:

    Strain drink into a chilled rocks glass filled with one large ice cube.

    Milk Punch
    Gabe Rodriguez
  3. Serve:

    Garnish with a dusting of grated nutmeg and serve.

    Grating nutmeg over a glass of New Orleans Milk Punch.
    Sam Schick