milk punch

Old as it may be, I hadn’t heard of milk punch before a few weeks ago but can assure you, I’ve thought about nothing else since, not blizzards, not book deadlines and not how long it will take for all of the molars to show up so we can get back to sleeping again. Nope, nothing but milk punch. An avid fan of eggnog — also, John Denver & The Muppets Chrismas album, carolers, chestnuts roasting on open fires and all sorts of things that are probably not expected from girl who celebrates Hanukah — but wary of all of the raw eggs and too impatient to tuck it away for anywhere from three weeks to a year to mellow flavor, milk punch seemed right up my alley.

milk and half-and-half
knob it

Like all great drinks, it has an equally great history. Namely, that if you’re using it to cure whatever ails as you ring in the new year (or tomorrow, as a hair of the nog that bit you and yes, I do crack myself up) you’re doing it absolutely right as milk punch was initially concocted not as what I unbiasedly believe to be the coolest thing you could mix up at a party tonight but as medication. Apparently, people drank it in colonial times (even Ben Franklin had his own recipe!), people drank it on Mississippi riverboats but then sometime around World War 2, it fell off the map everywhere but New Orleans. Ah, New Orleans, this is just one more reason we like you.

sifting powdered sugar

Recipes for milk punch vary wildly. Some use superfine sugar, others use powdered sugar, which dissolves almost instantaneously. You might use brandy, whiskey or bourbon in it, but you know I used bourbon because, well, I always do. Some use milk, some use half-and-half (half cream, half milk, with about 10.5 to 18 percent milkfat) and many use both. The recipe below uses both but I’m going to be honest, given that most of us have retired any notions of healthfulness, at least until tomorrow, I might make it next time with all half-and-half as more of a cushion against the high booze ratio. Some recipes have you shake it with ice and serve it immediately but the ones I couldn’t get out of my head had you freeze it until slushy, a word I can assure you is much more charming inside this apartment than out.

nutmeg-ing it

I’ve been poking around the web this afternoon, since we dropped the little snowman off at his grandparents for the night, and I’ve read a lot of beautiful summaries of the year. There are recipes for black-eyed peas and tallies of the highs of 2010 and for a moment, I fretted that the pressure was on to say something pithy and clever. But did you read that part about dropping the baby off? You see, I have a party to get to and hope you don’t mind that I made you a drink instead. It’s slushy but toasty and I hope you clink glasses tonight with everyone that you love.


One year ago: Walnut Pesto and Spicy Caramel Popcorn
Two years ago: Pizza with Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Onions, Pecan Sandies and Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Three years ago: Caramel Cake (P.S. I just finished reading The Help which will have you craving this.)
Four years ago: Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti and Hazelnut Truffles

Milk Punch
Adapted from Canal House, v.2

5 cups of a mixture of whole milk and half-and-half (4:1 is suggested, but I might go more like 3:2 next time)
1 1/2 cups bourbon, another whiskey or brandy
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish.

In a pitcher, whisk together milk, half-and-half, bourbon, sugar and vanilla. Freeze until slushy, which will take 3 to 4 hours, but you can leave it in there up to a day. Stir before serving it in chilled glasses, finished with a few gratings of fresh nutmeg.

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256 comments on milk punch

  1. I came so close to making some of this for Christmas this year, but decided against it as I would have had to drink it all myself! (We just had a baby, and it would have been perhaps unwise to get too crunked-up solo.) I did however, make a ton of recipes from the canal house series over the weekend. It’s my absolute favorite series around right now. So beautiful! If you have v. 5, you have to try the celeriac remoulade that they have paired with the roasted pork belly. One the best sides I’ve tried in a while, and so simple. . .

  2. Kim

    oh my… a good way! might be the thing for tonight!BTW Your blog was my best discovery of the past year. I thank you for a very delicious 2010 with I am sure more to come. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  3. I’ve never heard of milk punch either. Interesting! I like eggnog so I am sure I would like this. Some of my closest friends are Jewish and they get more into Christmas than I do! haha Happy New Year!

  4. Milk and bourbon? What’s not to love? Unfortunately, though I have much of the latter due spending the spring in Louisville, I have none of the former. Dare I use soy milk? Or should I hit Amigos Mercado before they close? Decisions…

  5. Liz

    Next time, you might want to consider just making a milkshake, also known as my Mom’s Fancy Milk Punch. The best vanilla ice cream you can find, bourbon, nutmeg, whole milke (or hlaf n half or light cream also work well): whiz it up in a blender and voila! Milk Punch. No extra freezing time required!

  6. Jendorf

    No fair! You posted this when I have 6 months before I can drink again! Seriously, though–I’ll be bookmarking this one for next year’s holiday season =)

  7. This sounds really good. I too have the raw egg fear. Sounds like the perfect adult beverage after hauling the kids up the sledding slope! Adding it to my must try in 2011 list!

  8. I’ve heard of Milk Punch but never had it. Considering that I love bourbon and that the NYE party I was going to has been canceled due to illness (the host’s, not mine), I may pare this recipe down some and stick it in the freezer in the next few minutes, to be ready when the cat and I celebrate at midnight!

  9. OH MY GOSH! So simple! So delicious! I love that you’re a bourbon girl!
    I literally just got back from the kitchen where I mixed up a mini batch of to see how I liked it- before using up all my good bourbon…
    I used almond milk- just because it’s all I had in the fridge- and I have to say the thick and creamy texture of almond milk lends itself to this perfectly! YUM YUM! Can’t wait for it to come out of the freezer!!!

  10. We serve a dish here in the South called “Boiled Custard” that is somewhat redolent of your Milk Punch. The recipe for Boiled Custard requires whole eggs, much stirring on the stove, cream, milk, vanilla, sugar and is served chilled — preferably in grandmother’s antique cut glass pitcher. Bourbon or rum are usually added if a more festive party is desired. We serve it at my house for all afternoon and evening parties during the Christmas holidays. We call it Yumm Rum….because once tasted, you keep wanting to keep back for more. Then the alcohol creeps up on you not to mention the calories. But who’s counting? Right?

  11. Liz

    Happy New Year from New Zealand! This looks good! Could you speed up the freezing until slushy part by using your icecream maker, or does the time in the freezer mellow something out? It’s a pretty warm summer here, and this looks like a good late afternoon/early evening treat.

  12. Arrie

    I love/hate realizing that the dishes my family made when I was a child are actual dishes, and not just a Brown Family “thing.” No bourbon for the children, of course, but this was a special treat throughout the year when there was no ice cream in the freezer.

  13. Just imagining the nutmeggy scent and those little creamy blubs of milk-cicles—mmm-mmm, and of course, something which is even ALMOST ice cream is a GOOD thing. And I don’t even LIKE Bourbon, but I think this might just be the exception.

    Oh. My. Hair of the Nog, indeed.

  14. hamletta

    Oh, my. I wonder if Kroger is still open.

    Janet Gaynor and Andy Devine get schnockered on milk punch in the 1937 version of “A Star Is Born,” so there’s that.

  15. SnowCat MacDobhran

    I’ve made a similar recipe for a holiday party a couple years ago as an eggnog alternative – it was *quite* yummy.

    I am a little confused – what do you mean about letting the eggnog mellow? I’ve never heard of that! (not that I’m an expert or anything like that – just a huge fan of real eggnog.)

  16. AB

    When you say ‘powdered sugar’ do you mean confectioner’s sugar? Because they’re not the same thing. Confectioner’s sugar has cornstarch in it. Powdered sugar is REALLY, REALLY superfine sugar, at least in the UK…

    Can you please clarify?

    Many thanks.

  17. Ro

    ‘milk punch’?

    not only sounds delicious, but reminds me of ‘A Clockwork Orange’. ;)

    happy new year to the smitten kitchen family, and thanks for the recipes. =)

  18. Arianna

    My husband had nothing but whiskey around one day, nothing to mix it with and didn’t want it straight.. He searched high and low on the internet and stumbled upon a recipe for Milk Punch, low and behold there was milk in the fridge and powdered sugar in the pantry. He mixed this concoction up and to this day is a believer. I however was not convinced with his recipe. Maybe I should try this one and be forever changed.

  19. Carey

    The New York Times had a fantastic milk punch recipe a few weeks ago in their holiday drinks guide. I served it Christmas morning and it was a huge hit with everyone. They suggested freezing a tray of milk cubes in the freezer the night before so the drink doesn’t get diluted and it worked wonderfully. Happy new year!

  20. Boozy, slushy milk sounds great right about now. Just woke up from my pre-NYE nap and I could use some milk punch.

    Sidenote, I also just finished “the help” amazing book! Now you have me thinking about caramel cake.

  21. Love this stuff. I used to serve this a milk punch like this for brunch at a restaurant I worked at and they called it a brandy milk punch. Not the hottest item on the menu though. Hard to beat out mimosas and bloody mary’s. Happy New Year.

  22. Thank you for showing me how to combine two of my favorite things: milk and whisky!
    Also, thank you for all of the brilliant things you have shared with us this year! As a blogger just getting started, you are definitely an inspiration. Happy New Year, and I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us!

  23. Theresa

    My baby can’t tolerate dairy (when I drink it- she gets it through my breast milk). Do you think this would work with almond milk? The brand “silk” makes a decent one. Thoughts?

  24. I just made milk punch for the first time a few weeks ago when my parents were here — interesting that it is a hangover cure, my father told me he had a hangover before he even went to bed from drinking it! (Probably because he assumed the punch was only for him and had multiple glasses.) Love that Penzey’s vanilla!

    Happy new year!

  25. Theresa

    update: I just made it with “silk” almond milk and subbed almond extract for vanilla. So so yummy! I used scotch and that worked great. Yay! Happy New Year Deb thanks for an amazing blog which has given me so many inspiring dishes to prepare for friends and family!

  26. Maureen

    This is a perfect way to bring in the New Year! As a Louisvillian, I am happy to agree with you that bourbon is, in fact, a food group. This recipe puts it to very good use. (And we all need more calcium, right?!) Thank you for another delicious year of recipes and baby photos. All the best to you in 2011!

  27. Yum! I mixed a small batch and it’s in the freezer now. Looking forward to it…
    A good substitute for egg nog is boiled custard.
    6 C milk, 6 egg yolks, 3/4 C sugar, 1 t vanilla. My original directions say to cook the milk then temper the eggs, but I’ve found that I can just throw the milk eggs and sugar together in a pot and cook on medium stirring constantly until it thickens enough to coat the back of a stainless spoon. Add vanilla and chill. (I’ve found that I have to strain it through a wire mesh strainer whether or not I temper the eggs).
    Tastes like liquid custard and the eggs get cooked, so it’s a win-win!

  28. Shelly

    This is in my freezer as I type! Its a balmy 88 degrees here on the Central Coast of Australia and this is going to go down really nice! I usually make a mean egg nog, but my best friend is allergic to eggs, this will be perfect for her. Thanks Deb.

  29. Ice Cream You Scream

    1) Looks yummy. 2) Would be even better–and FASTER–churned in the ice cream maker. 3) No need to fear raw eggs if you used pasteurized ones. 4) Could cook this as an egg nog custard and then churn it in the ice cream maker… The high alcohol content would keep it slushy, a few egg yolks (5 max) would make it extra rich, and the ice cream churn would freeze it in about a half an hour (presuming the cooked custard is cold before you put it in there. Ok, I’m an ice cream fan, so forgive me…and happy new year! :)

  30. mur

    My earliest taste of milk punch was at Green Pastures in Austin. It was amazing – sweet but not cloying, decadent but not embarrassingly so. I could have consumed an entire pitcher on my own, but since it was an early outing with my future in-laws, I managed a tiny bit of self-control. Very tiny. Thanks for the reminder of this wonderful treat. And Happy New Year to you and yours :)

  31. Jaime

    Ooh! I would never have thought of freezing it but your slushy version sounds yummy. I discovered milk punch over Thanksgiving weekend this year – and then I got pregnant the same day (heehee) and haven’t been able to enjoy it since … now I can’t wait to drink it next winter.

  32. Emily

    Inspired by your post (and Ben Franklin) I made this tonight, and it was delicious! Somewhat unglamourously, but very practically, I put the ingredients (including freshly grated nutmeg) into individual mason jars, and then just capped them, shook them up really well, and placed them in the freezer for a couple hours. They were delicious!!

  33. Geralyn

    I’m a super big eggnog lover but also creeped out by the ‘egg’ involvement so this sounds RAD. Too bad I’m pregnant. Bourbon and I will have to reunite next year.

  34. Kristen

    John Denver & the Muppets? Best. Holiday. Album. EVER. You? Just got even cooler in my book. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that another person out there held both JD&tM AND bourbon in such high regard. I am not alone. Happy new year from a kindred spirit.

  35. Lynne

    Deb Dear,

    I’ve been following your blog for almost two years now.

    I am of an age between your Mom and your Grandmother (closer to your Grandmother) and I adore you, your beautiful little son, your exceptional writing skills, and of course, your yummy recipes.

    I wish I were your next door neighbor. : )

    Happy New Year!

    1. deb

      Lynne — I wish you were our upstairs neighbors, as they are very loud and take to what I assume must be clogging at all hours of the night, and you seem like you’d be much more charming!

      Erica — We love Basil Hayden, Eagle Rare and the one with the horse figurine on the top that I always forget the name of. Probably because I am drinking it.

      Eileen — More guilt about never finishing that book! My MIL borrowed it from our bookcases two weeks ago and declared it one of the best books she’d ever read. Obviously, it’s time I try again.

      AB — Here, powdered and confectioner’s sugar are the same thing. However, if you only have superfine sugar around, no reason you cannot use it (as I mention in the post, many recipes use that instead; you’ll just want to make sure to stir until it dissolves).

  36. AB: Powdered and/or confectioners sugar have miniscule (approximately 3%) amounts of a non-caking agent to keep it from clumping together. In the United States, it’s usually corn starch, and in France and other European countries, it has silicate (or the mineral tricalcium phosophate) added. I’ve done side-by-side tests and because it’s such a tiny quantity, they’re interchangeable in recipes like this where it’s going to be dissolved in liquids. You can also grind granulated sugar in a food processor until it’s powdery to make your own.

    deb: Happy 2011!

  37. Karen Norkus

    This sounds like something my mom used to make with freshly fallen snow–we called it snow cream (not oburbon for the kiddies) and we loved it.

  38. Kate Mai

    Green Pastures,an old restaurant in a lovely old mansion in Austin, Tx, has always served milk punch at its Sunday brunch. I love it! And sooooooo much healthier than egg nog. Maybe.

  39. linda

    i have never heard of this drink & never ventured out of my wine or vodka world but, in celebration of the new year & as a nod to you & wonderful SK i will.
    loved the help…may i suggest wench by dolen perkins-valdez.

    joy filled, happy & glorious new year…enjoyed in good health…to you & those you hold dear.

  40. Paula

    Great post. I, too, have been perusing everyone’s “wrap ups” and I must say I enjoyed the milk punch. As a history teacher and devotee of the colonial period I had come across the term but had no idea what the recipe entailed. Thanks for the lesson. Hope the snowman enjoyed his stay at the grandparents, and that mom and dad enjoyed their evening out. Much joy in 2011!

  41. Magda

    Yay – so many fellow Kentuckians representing! I applaud your use of Knob Creek – it’s my favorite bourbon for regular drinking (but I’m all about Maker’s for cooking, because it’s cheaper and I don’t feel so guilty about using it in quantity). Bourbon rocks!

    Happy New Year!

  42. Another John Denver and the Muppets Christmas fan! Bourbon sweet milk slushiness! Deb, I have just fallen twice as in love with you and your blog as I was before.

  43. looks soooo good! at a cafe i used to work at we had a drink with only milk, caramel, white chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla. it was sooo good. i’m a fan of flavored up yummy milk ;) happy new year

  44. Shari

    Happy New Year Great lady with the cutest kid! I love your blog and wish you and yours nothing but the best for the New Year! You’ve introduced me to a lot of new things (new to me anyway) over the last few years, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope to read your blog for years to come. Really looking forward to your cookbook too!

  45. Shelle

    It’s like a bourbon milk shake!

    And, I was so excited about the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas reference! It is one of my favorite holiday albums too!

    Thanks for all the wonderful posts!

  46. Patty

    I was raised on eggnog, have finally found a delicious recipe that tempers the eggs, but will have to give this a try…anything that disguises the flavor of milk gets kudos from me!

  47. Momcat

    I had my first milk punch at Brennan’s in New Orleans. Of course, it was wonderful! Nothing like some delicious booze at breakfast! To you who mentioned Green Pastures, thanks for the memories. I have eaten there (sublime) and my sister got married there in 1999. Gorgeous place for a wedding, and wonderful buffet for the reception. I live in Dallas, but Austin really rocks!

  48. Margie

    Update to the caramel cake (sorry I missed it before!). Your buttermilk cake is perfect – just try real penuche frosting and be prepared to swoon. Try the penuche from Gourmet 10/1990 (Epicurious – applesauce cake with penuche frosting). Low ratings because the reviewers didn’t understand that penuche takes some care. My aunt made a signature buttermilk cake with caramel frosting and between your cake and Gourmet’s penuche, I think I finally have it. Happy New Year!

  49. Kat

    It makes me so happy that you like the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album. It’s my favorite. :)
    Also that you’ve discovered milk punch; it’s a tradition here in Memphis! Yum!

  50. monica

    Lovely Deb! Always lovely!!
    We in fact had a party last evening, and we made nutty Irishman…milk, half and half, Irish Whiskey and hazelnut liquor! Tis’ another good recipe, but, I think with bourbon instead ( I’m with you on the bourbon, it’s a food staple!) I think I’d go with the nutty hill-billy.
    Yes dear, as the 1st day of the year, and some old classic movies on the TV this evening, Milk Punch will be the evenings desired drink.
    Thanks for sharing so much with us throughout the year. Thank you for sharing that precious little guy ( just love him!) I can’t wait till your cook book comes out, I’ll be first in line with bells on! Have a happy and completely blessing filled year!

  51. Ahhhh, fuilk pupnch……. memories ……. wonderful holiday memories…..

    Love the hazelnut liquor thought from monica….
    we always used bourbon; nutmeg…. always had the pretty little grater right there by the pitcher… we went by a grate your own routine.

    Hadn’t thought of this in ages….. and now I gotta have some….

    One more festive gatherings tonight… and this will be the ‘toast’ of the party
    (so to speak)
    Happy 2011 to evereyone… Lisa

  52. Sofia

    This was the perfect last-minute New Year’s cocktail recipe, since I already had all of the ingredients on hand. My guests were puzzled and intrigued by it, and everyone agreed that it tasted delicious. :)

    Thank you for the recipe, Deb!

  53. Milk punch?? I’ve never heard of such a thing either! But now I’m not going to be able to get it off my mind… Sounds and looks amazing! Happy New Year :) :)

  54. Milk punch is the nectar of the gods. I first had it at Bourbon House in New Orleans. They make it with ice milk so it is almost like drinking a milkshake. A delicious, boozy milkshake.

    I believe I will be trying this soon, though.

  55. Rennie

    I’ve had my eye on this recipe for awhile too! I’m so glad you made it- it looks delicious! I haven’t gotten around to it, but plan to soon, probably with whiskey. Happy New Year!

  56. Beauzeaux

    I am a big fan of Penzey’s. I’d also like to recommend Rancho Gordo, which not only sells fantastic beans but also excellent Mexican Vanilla ($9.95 for 4 oz.)

    I live in Canada and order from both Penzey’s and Rancho Gordo — it’s worth the effort.

    (Needless to say, my only connection to these companies is as an avid customer.)

  57. A

    I had some milk punch myself just last night! And as someone who isn’t a fan of eggnog this sure was mighty tasty. I’m definitely going to have to try this out for myself!

    P.S. You’ve inspired me to go ahead and start a food blog (kind of my NY’s resolution.) Thanks and happy new year!

  58. Aida Eliamen

    Hello to all readers and happy New Year, well I’m a Mexican lady and here in Mexico at this time it’s very cold so we drink many kind of milk punches and one delicious is exactly like this one, but instead of putting half&half we just boil the milk with the sugar, add some evaporated milk and out of the stove put the Bourbon, vanilla and a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon powder.
    Salud !!!
    Thank you Deb for such a lovely site and a very good recipe !

  59. Kyla

    We used to drink this, minus the booze, as kids and called it vanilla milk. I still prefer it to chocolate milk. I’m looking forward to the grown-up version!

  60. eleonard

    Happy New Year! I’m well into my first glass. Hoorah. Great drink! Based on your endorsement, for Christmas, I asked for and received my first Canal House Cookbook (v.5). I’m officially addicted…to the cookbook that is.

  61. This is a common drink in Europe for people with a cold or the flu, but made with cognac, not iced and without sugar or nutmeg. Drink before covering up in bed and swetting it all out!

  62. Kate

    This has been a Christmas family tradition for YEARS! Our family recipe has been passed down for generations. My parents say its the only way to make it through Christmas morning with kids. My sister and I are now grown, so we all share this on Christmas morning. Our recipe involves vanilla ice cream as well! Delicious!

  63. Growing up in South Louisian, I thought EVERYONE knew about milk punch. But of course I also thought everyone knew about crawfish, cuchion de laits, bonfires on the levee and a lot of stuff when I moved to NYC. Boy was I wrong, lol.

  64. Rebekah

    You had me with half and half and bourbon, but had to comment because of John Denver and the Muppets. My all time favorite Christmas album. Well, maybe a tie with Harry Connick, Jr. Seems more appropriate with the cocktails anyway.

    Kids are in bed and I’m trying to kick a stubborn cold so off I trot to the bar to mix myself up some medicine. Thanks and Happy 2011!

  65. Gail M

    brandy milk punch, delicious, Tower of the Americas, San Antonio TX, early 1970’s, brunch, that’s about all I remember until several hours later.

  66. i finished reading The Help, 2 months ago and have been searching for the perfect caramel cake recipe since! So lucky i just decided to catch up on my blogging and spot this!

  67. Not heard of anything quite like this before, but the semi-frozen, slushy consistency make sit sound very appealing. (Nothing to do with the booze, of course!!)

  68. jen

    This is so weird, Deb. I was just listening to NPR and they had some drinks experts on who were saying that Punch is Back. And all I kept thinking was that I’d like to try a milk punch, which I had just heard of about a month ago.


  69. Shelly

    I used brandy, I like the mellower flavour, BUT I wouldn’t use near as much as the recipe calls for. I might even cut the alcohol amount in half, I think that flavor needs to be a little more subtle. It could just be that different types of alcohol produce different results and you just have to keep trying till you get it right!

  70. Kim in MD

    This looks delicious, Deb! Happy New Year to you and those you hold dear…I hope you had fun at the party!

    As always, I love the Jacob link…he is just adorable!

  71. I have been seeing recipes for milk punch all over this year, but none with reviews – they all seemed to be more along the lines of “Man, we should try this sometime!” I’m so glad it turned out well, because I needed a new winter booze recipe!

  72. amy

    During last week’s blizzard, I was just telling my kids here in NJ about growing up in the mountains of western north carolina and making “snow cream” which was clean, freshly fallen snow we scooped into plastic mixing bowls, which my mom would put into glasses with a dash of vanilla and milk poured over the whole thing. They were disappointed I wouldn’t let them collect snow up here to “drink”, but without the booze, this is a similar idea for a snowy day treat.

  73. Kristina Holt

    We had milk punch at our wedding in lieu of champagne. It was white, decadent and perfect for toasting in the early afternoon. Our punch included ice cream in the mix, to keep it extra thick, creamy and cold.

  74. Thanks for the recipe, Deb. My mom used to make eggnog for me for breakfast. The “not so” real deal with raw egg, but nonfat milk and no bourbon. I loved it, but haven’t had it in ages. I’m thinking of exploring it again because we have laying hens out back, so I’m not too concerned about illness. I’ll definitely try the milk punch though.

  75. I have a sort of love-hate relationship with nog myself, so this sounds just fantastic to me, too. (Incidentally, I hail from New Orleans, and have never heard of milk punch either.)

  76. When my (now grown) kids were babies, my husband and I used to say that they were “milk punch drunk” after nursing. Thanks to your post, I now know what REAL milk punch is and will just have to mix up a batch to test the effect myself :)

  77. Tarheel Kate

    I tried it and liked it! Maker’s Mark Bourbon was the deal…I used 1/2 half and half and the rest milk. Is that the reason it was way slushy or I might say more than slushy? Very good still. Delightful!

    ~ Happy New Year!

  78. Meg

    Love milk punch. Thanks for the craving, Deb….I’m expecting a wee one so this is sadly off limits. Now I need to go find some ice cream.

  79. Sandra B

    Since I’ve got a nasty cough and a sore throat I may have to have some of this before bed tonight, thanks.
    And I totally recognize the vanilla bottle! Penzey’s rocks!!! I feel so fortunate that they have a bricks-and-mortar store mere miles from my home.

  80. Stace

    This sounds brilliant- I have never been fond of the idea of eggnog, but love milky drinks, slushy drinks…and bourbon, so what could be better than combining them? It’s the new year already, but here in Auckland it is bakingly hot and I think these would go down excellently for sitting on the deck in the sun for no occasion at all. Happy New Year to you and yours Deb, I am looking forward another year following your site.

  81. des

    my neighbor made this a few weeks back for her birthday + it was delicious. she has since received a book on all things punch related, the benefits from experiments will soon be reaped. i am not sure if you have ever had or heard of coquito but its my holiday passion as much this milk punch recipe is for you. here’s the best one i’ve found: and i hear freezing it is equally delicious!!

  82. Mary

    My father makes a similar “drink” every Christmas, although I suppose it’s actually more of a Brandy Alexander. He uses a couple of scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, plenty of crushed ice, a splash of milk, then brandy, creme de cacao, and nutmeg on top. So good! And he uses an old avocado-colored ice crusher that we have had for ages. Served with a nice cookie tray, it’s a great way to end a Christmas meal.

  83. Maggie

    MMMmmmm, this sounds lovely! I’m going to try it ASAP!

    Oh, and I LOVE that you’re a Penzey’s girl! Although I prefer their double-strength Madagascar Vanilla, I could max out my credit cards in their store.

  84. We here at GU Detroit have been drinking vast quantities of milk punch since the weather turned cooler in November- Todd, one of our founders, blogged about it and talked about it on NPR for a holiday segment. His family has a raw milk share and hoo boy is it good made with that milk! We use Buffalo Trace Bourbon in it- reasonably priced and it won our blind taste test.

  85. Lolo

    This is a staple at Scranton Times 25 Year Club, and as it is a closely guarded secret. They are probably wondering whether to get a journalist on the “leak.” When time is too short for full freezing, there is an alterate serving technique: a generous dollop of whipped cream in a wine glass before the pouring in the punch. I have had it served with a small scoup of good vanilla icecream in the glass instead.

  86. Thanks for introducing me to one more great drink. I didn’t get the chance to try this on New Year’s but hey, I have the whole year ahead of me.
    Happy New Year Deb! All the best to you, your hubby and your little boy.

  87. I had something similar to this at a wedding shower a couple of weeks ago made with ice cream and chilled cofee. It was delicious. Happy New Year to you Deb! Look forward to reading your blog for another great year.

  88. Marie M.C.

    I love Bourbon Milk Punch. Love it! Years ago (I mean, years, like 30 or more) I had a Bourbon Milk Punch at the Redwood Room in the Clift Hotel here in San Francisco. To die for. A few days later I had a friend over helping to trim the tree. Mentioned this miraculous Milk Punch I’d had but had no idea how to make. Light bulb went off in my head. Picked up the phone and called the bartender at the Redwood Room and asked for their recipe. Guess what? He happily shared it. Ready? Here it is — buy a good quality vanilla ice cream, let it melt, a little — you want it still slush. Add more vanilla (if you want) nutmeg (also optional) and lots (or to taste) of good bourbon plus a shake of nutmeg on top. There you go. Easy, peasy. Basically a vanilla milkshake with bourbon. Hiccup. Happy New Year!

  89. Jen

    This is what my husband’s stepfather’s mother(??? Yes the tree gets a little twisty…)has whenever we would have our Christmas eve dinner out. (Old School New Orleans. Comus New Orleans. Has had an audience with the Pope New Orleans.) I always thought of it as a little old lady drink. May have to toast one with her next time…

  90. Beanwean

    Two family faves: John Denver & the Muppets Christmas Album (which we still have on vinyl somewhere) and milk punch (we make ours with a rum-brandy mix).

  91. This looks so completely up my alley! I briefly noticed milk punch on and just passed right on over thinking, “Uh Okay, weird.”
    I too have a fiery love for eggnog and made my own at home for the first time this year. The nog turned out delicious, but I think I’ll have to give this a whirl next year!

  92. I had this for the first time about 4 years ago at the Bourbon House in New Orleans. Like you, I couldn’t get it out of my mind for ages! Thank you for bringing it back so I can make it this weekend while celebrating a late Christmas at the in-laws. I’ll need it to keep me sane!

  93. Is is sad that I got really excited when I saw that you use the same spice jars I do? I love them to pieces! I’ve got to get back to crate & barrel and snag some more.

    P.S. Go bourbon!

  94. SaraH

    Since we’re entering awards season, let me just say, “Best Possible Use of a Milk Product!” I’m a nog lover in a family of nog haters, but this, this, may just bring us all together. Thanks for digging it up; we will do our part to revive it!

  95. Marcia

    Oh, my. Oooh, my. I have visions of slushy milk drinks as substitute snow. D’ya think we can use it as a substitute for snow in snowcream if we let it get cold enough?! Thanks for sharing, really. I’d read about milk punch, but never seen a recipe.

    Oh, and i entered your web address into wordle and it generated THIS from your RSS feed. The larger words are those you’ve used most often. LOVE your site.

  96. Bobanda

    The very day you posted this I was telling dear hubby about milk punch. I’ve often seen the same recommendation other mentioned, using ice cream instead. It is delicious with Breyers Natural Vanilla. In fact, I am surprised so many post-ers hadn’t heard of it either. Cheers!

  97. Patrick

    Usually I say, “Yum!” when I read the recipes on your blog, but today I thought “High Glucose Level!” Reminded a bit of elementary school milk left on the doorstep on the school on a cold winter’s day, when the cardboard top would pop off and make it slushy. And the teacher would say, “Drink it!” and we’d all watch Debbie Bowman gag it down because more than likely she was lactose intolerant in 1968 when nobody knew what that meant! Maybe adding the bourbon and sugar will help… why didn’t I think of that in 3rd grade? I may skip this one!

  98. Lei

    Milk Punch has been a cold-weather tradition in my family since before my time! I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’m usually the one appointed as master Milk Puncher these days because I learned how to make so well as a small child. My grandmother used to sit in her chair and ask my cousin and I to mix it up (she then added her own bourbon to taste, of course – I didn’t have real bartending endeavors til later in life) :) It works just as well if you use fresh snow. Go out right after a snow, before it gets disturbed (usually best from a snow that has covered a previous layer) scoop it up and add the rest of the ingredients… a little piece of heaven :)

  99. Nora

    I love learning that things I thought were universal were really only particular to my little neck of the woods. I’m from Louisiana (not New Orleans, though) and milk punch is kind of a regular thing. Not an every day thing but a very common festive brunch or wedding shower thing. It is quite delicious! Glad you are enjoying our little regional specialty.

  100. This sounds like it would be incredible and a good use for that bourbon I got for Christmas. It also reminds me of one of my favorite drinks of all time…the amaretto milkshake (which is just what it sounds like, and can be made with either vanilla or chocolate ice cream). Thanks for sharing!

  101. I love that you blogged about milk punch! We have been making a “New Orleans” style meal (gumbo, onion pie, etc.) for Christmas day the past three years and milk punch makes such a nice conclusion to such a meal. This year being stingy and preggo, I didn’t bother making the milk punch, but can’t wait until next Christmas when I can enjoy a nice tall glass of it! I have never put mine in the freezer and will be doing so next year. Happy New Year!

  102. Wendyb

    One of my favorite things from New Orleans. I have a recipe from one of the Brennan’s restaurants that uses ice cream. Decadent and delicious!

  103. Ann

    There are so many comments…I hesitate to leave one. Just wanted to say that I am so glad to see someone else who loves the Muppets. I make my family watch A Muppet Christmas Carol every Christmas and pop the soundtrack into my car’s stereo. Yay!

  104. minor_threat

    I churned mine in my ice cream maker because I’m impatient, then stirred in a lot of nesquik. Felt really guilty about using top shelf bourbon, but it’s all I had you know? Also good with allspice

  105. h. s. gudnason

    Near the beginning of Madamma Butterfly, Sharpless, the American consul in Nagasaki, offers Lieutenant Pinkerton a choice of “milk punch o whiskey.” Pinkerton chooses whiskey. This sounds better

  106. C

    Love this! I like it hot sometimes instead of slushy and with anise instead of vanilla (also good without the booze). It’s easiest to use anise sugar cubes, but you can also add a heaping teaspoon of crushed anise seed for every quart of milk.

  107. Leigh Anne

    i work in deep East Texas. this stuff is basically drunk straight from the bottle by the wealthy execs at holiday parties where i work. its pretty intense stuff!!

  108. Ariel

    I may have drank too much of this and woke up in the middle of the night on the couch.

    But when I woke up again this morning, no hangover! Hahah. It was delicous. :-)

  109. Martha Quest

    I’ve been hooked on milk punch for about 30 years! Variations I have used and loved:

    Substitute half of the milk with the richest, loveliest vanilla ice cream you can find; this eliminates most of the sugar.

    Freeze a batch into a round mould and it keeps the batch in the bowl cold but not diluted. Though it rarely lasts long enough to get too warm.

  110. Liane

    I just made a batch of this. I have to say, I was trying to use up a gallon of 2% milk (organic – makes the difference in taste) and it was just as good. I used 4 cups 2% to 1 cup half and half, with the powdered sugar and brandy. We cut eggnogg with milk anyway, so this was perfect and now we feel like it’s ok to drink more because it’s lighter. Cheers!

  111. I’m WAY behind on my blog reading because of the holidays, but have to give another shout out to John Denver and the Muppets. I’ve been listening to that album every Christmas since I was a little kid (my parents were major John Denver fans), and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Who knew there were so many other fans out there?

  112. Another Kentuckian chiming in here. So glad that you posted this. Gotta love the milk punch, which I find less cloying than eggnog during the holidays. However, a bit rich for my blood to use Knob Creek for a mixed drink! I like it straight and in drinks served up (like a Sazerac made with bourbon instead of rye), but everyone I know at home uses Maker’s for their mixed drinks and high balls…..

  113. Z

    This sounds some what familiar to what we call “lassi” here in Pakistan. Its heavy and is served at breakfast usually though lassi is made of yoghurt, milk and just the right amount of sugar and then shaked up a bit usually using the traditional hand churner. Milk punch is definitely what I’d call Lassi if I wanted to translate.

  114. Rachel

    This looks wonderful! I wonder, have you ever tried it hot instead? We’ve just had blizzard-like weather, and a warm milk and whiskey recipe sounds like the perfect alternative to the excessive amount of hot chocolate I’ve been drinking lately. Thanks!

  115. Susan

    It is AWESOME hot! I just made some tonight with Irish Whiskey and it was a huge hit. (With all the snow here in MA, we are grateful for anything that keeps us warm). lol

  116. Clev

    If you like drinks with booze, nutmeg, and milk, but without eggs, try a Jamaican drink I love based on carrot juice and rum. Simply mix fresh carrot juice, evaporated milk (or sweetened condensed for a sweeter drink), vanilla extract, rum, and freshly ground nutmeg. Proportions to taste. Add lots of ice. Amazingly refreshing and good for you too. Not everyone might like the flavour of canned evaporated milk, but that’s what makes it authentic!

  117. G.guess

    Would be tasty if you are with group of friends…
    However do you really liked it?
    Homemade berry smoothie or even a little chocholate+milk helps.
    Smiles to you!

  118. Cooking-between-classes

    Question– I read the Ben Franklin recipe, which calls for 2 quarts of lemon juice to his 3 quarts milk… wouldn’t that curdle the milk?

  119. Shaunna

    I just made a small test batch with canned coconut milk instead of dairy milk . . . Delish! I think the strong coconut flavor calls for half dark rum, half bourbon, though. The full-fat canned coconut milk does the slush thing very well. Thanks for all you share, Deb!

  120. Brittany

    This rocked our small office’s holiday party a couple weeks ago after a full year of anticipation. I’ve found my new favorite dairy-based holiday beverage!

  121. Wills

    Oooh – this concoction – with rum instead of bourbon – was the heart of a smashing party my parents had in the 60’s. People are still talking about that party because of how lethal and yummy the drinks were. Proceed with caution – and make sure you’ve got some food on hand to keep things from getting too out of control.

  122. Jen

    This is a great brunch drink. My spirit of choice is bourbon, but it is also nice with brandy. I usually serve over ice, but the slushy version sounds good.

    1. deb

      Hi Meredith — This is terrible but I can’t remember how many it made (and my Canal House books are AWOL). However, it’s WAY more than 2! It’s like 6.5 cups of slushy booze and I think we serve it tiny portions, 1/2 cup or so. So, that would easily mean it makes 12 portions, 6 if you want them to be quite large.

  123. kit

    So… if some one wanted to make a smaller batch and wasn’t too fussy about exactitude, one could mix about 1 part sugar, 1 part booze, and 3 parts milk substance and then eyeball the vanilla/nutmeg….

  124. Mary G

    Just made it today with Jameson’s Irish whiskey. It was excellent. It was unusually warm today (70s) and this slushy cold drink was perfect and festive. Much better than egg nog. Seemed more refreshing and not as heavy although I did. 3:2 ratio of whole milk to half and half. I will definitely make this again.

  125. Eric S

    The drink from colonial times (such as Franklin’s recipe) by the same name was an entirely different beast. Yes, the lemon juice curdled the milk. This wasn’t a matter of different tastes, the milk just served an entirely different function. The curds were strained out leaving a light, clear liquid. You would never know it was made with milk. It’s quite delicious in its own right, but not remotely the same beverage as this one.

  126. Sally

    Reminds me of a similar adult milkshake: coffee ice cream, coffee liqueur and tequila whipped up in the blender and topped with whipped cream. Only one to a customer–this has a lot of alcohol in it! I haven’t made it in far too long; coming soon!

  127. Jean

    This reminds me of another old-fashioned “nog” drink called Up and Coming, which has chilled apple cider in place of the liquor. It’s a great substitute for those who cannot partake of the hard stuff. Cheers!

  128. Theresa

    This recipe was originally published in Jerry Thomas’s 1862 book; the bon vivant or how to mix drinks. The powdered sugar mentioned in the recipe is not the same as the powdered sugar sold today( mainly because of the cornstarch). Since the sugar is not acting as a thickener, it has been suggested that regular granulated sugar could be ground in a spice grinder or food processor to avoid any of the potentially off/conflicting flavors of the cornstarch.

  129. Rachael

    I made this for a holiday party the other night! I didn’t have time to freeze it before hand, so just served it cold. If we were missing out, we didn’t notice.

  130. Jessie

    I live in New Orleans and a batch of this seemed a fitting New Year’s Day recovery drink. I used almond milk (unsweetened plain), since some of my friends have fussy tummies, and was a little worried it wouldn’t be as delicious as the real deal. But it was AWESOME. Seriously. They loved it. And since it’s really not too terrible for you health-wise with the almond milk substitution, it seems only right to make this a regular weekend event.

  131. Just made this (along with your olive and grape toasts) for a little gathering my husband and I hosted a few days ago, and it was a big hit. Thank you! I think everyone was very skeptical, but they all ended up going back for seconds.

  132. Katie A

    That third photo is particularly sad if there isn’t a back-up bottle (or 2) nearby. Enjoy your snowy weekend! We’re enjoying whiskey sours here in NorCal with the Meyer lemon tree going crazy in the soggy backyard.

  133. Marlena

    I love this recipe so much, Deb, and I make it every year. I’m originally from Louisiana and growing up, when my mom would take me to this nicer restaurant we were members of, they made me this drink called “twittle milk”. It wasn’t until i was older that I realized it was a virgin milk punch (b/c, not shocking, no one had heard of twittle milk). In any case, this is exactly how it’s supposed to taste. So, so good! I can’t wait to make it again this year!

  134. Holly Keyes

    Weird but addictively good. I am always leery about mixing alcohol and dairy but this worked out well. We halved the recipe as there are only 2 of us and enjoyed another way to drink our bourbon.

  135. Kelley

    This is awesome. My hubby was baking croissants today and some of the bittersweet chocolate shavings on the countertop found their way into my milk punch… was like grown-up chocolate chip ice cream….yum!

  136. Sudie

    I have quite a bit of milk to use up before going away for the holidays and this looks like the perfect way to do it. Fully intend to use small scoops of ice cream as ice cubes.

  137. Michele

    I’ve been using this recipe now for several years during the holidays. It’s something we always look forward to and by mid-January we almost need rehab to give it up. It’s so comforting. I find I like it best when it’s a little more than 50% half-n-half. I use Maker’s Mark bourbon. I tried Knob Creek and found that it wasn’t really improved by by the higher price tag. Sometimes I pour a little RumChata over before serving.

  138. Hi Deb! I just made this for a party this weekend and then saw “You can leave it up to a day.” What do you think will happen? Will I have a solid ice cube of milk punch? Thank you if you have a chance to respond!

  139. jennifer

    Deb, this milk punch is so delicious. We don’t spend the holidays now without this – what a wonderful family tradition you’ve helped us start. Thank you!