What Santa really wants you to leave out for him
Milk and cookies—that’s what kids will be setting out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. But we think ol’ Saint Nick might prefer something with a bit more, um, substance.
Enter the Milk Punch Cocktail: All the goodness of milk. All the fun of booze.
You can serve this drink chilled, or warm up the milk and serve it hot on a snowy evening. Best of all, the Milk Punch Cocktail is refreshing, and not too heavy—just what Santa needs. After all, you want him to be able to get back up the chimney.
Recipe: Milk Punch Cocktail
Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, people mixed up big batches of milk punch and served it from punch bowls. Kind of like Eggnog. Later on (probably in the 19th century), some innovative bartender reworked the recipe to create single servings.
Originally, Milk Punch probably was consumed as a morning drink. It still is in New Orleans, where it’s an extremely popular brunch beverage.
You should use a “dark” liquor in milk punch—because you want a spirit with, well, spirited flavor. Brandy (or cognac) is popular in New Orleans. In other parts of the US, bourbon rules. Dark rum also works quite well. Ted Haigh, in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, suggests a combination of brandy and dark rum. We like his recipe, so that’s how we make it.
We usually serve this cocktail chilled. But you can heat the milk and serve it warm if you prefer—see the Notes for details.
This drink takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one. But make two. You don't want Santa drinking alone.
- 1 ounce brandy or cognac
- ½ ounce dark rum
- 2 teaspoons simple syrup (or to taste; see Notes)
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (see Notes)
- 4 ounces whole milk or half and half (see Notes)
- freshly grated nutmeg for garnish (optional)
- Add all ingredients (except garnish) to a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 30 to 45 seconds. The more you shake this cocktail, the frothier the milk becomes—which leaves a nice head on the top of the drink when you pour it into a glass.
- Strain into a glass filled with shaved or crushed ice (see Notes for glass choices). Grate some nutmeg on top, if you wish, and serve.
- You can use either brandy or cognac in this drink. Cognac is just brandy that’s made in the area surrounding the town of Cognac in France. You needn’t buy expensive brandy for this drink—something in the range of $15 per bottle or so will work just fine.
- We like to use dark rums from Jamaica in this drink. Myers’s works well (and we always have it on hand), so that’s what we use. But any dark rum works.
- You may prefer to make this drink with 2 ounces of booze instead of 1½ ounces—it’s good either way, particularly since the flavor of the alcohol doesn’t dominate in this drink.
- If you don’t want to mix two different spirits, you can use all brandy or all rum (dark or amber) in this drink. Or make it with bourbon.
- This drink has a fair amount of volume, so use a glass that’s big enough to hold it. We like to serve it in stemless wine glasses. A highball glass or a double rocks glass also would be ideal. Or a brandy snifter.
- Instead of serving this drink over ice, you could strain it into a really big cocktail glass and serve it “up.”
- If you prefer to serve this drink warm, simply heat the milk or half and half on the stovetop (bring it just to a simmer). Add the milk to a mug along with the booze, pure vanilla extract, and simple syrup, then stir to combine. Enjoy!
- You could use skim milk in this cocktail, but you’ll wind up with a thin, soulless drink. Whole milk is much better. Better still is half and half. Or whole milk and some cream. (Hey, this isn’t the time of the year to watch calories.)
- You may like this drink a bit sweeter than we specify. If so, just add another teaspoon or so of simple syrup.
- Want something less sweet? Start with just 1 teaspoon of simple syrup and taste.
- You should use high quality (pure) vanilla extract in this recipe. Its flavor is so much better than the imitation kind.
- Pure vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in a mixture of water and alcohol for several months. BTW, the FDA requires that pure vanilla extract contain at least 35% alcohol. If the label doesn’t say “pure,” that means it’s made from synthetic vanilla. The artificial kind is usually derived from the sapwood of several species of conifers—or from coal extracts. How appetizing (not).
- The flavor of some imitation vanillas can be nasty. You don’t have to spend a fortune on pure vanilla extract, but getting decent quality does mean spending a bit more for something that’s not loaded with sugar or imitation flavoring. Do yourself a favor and get the real stuff. Or ask Santa to leave some in your stocking.
- Freshly grated nutmeg tastes much better than the pre-grated stuff that comes in jars or cans. The easiest way to grate nutmeg is to use a Microplane grater.
- Programming Note: We’re taking the rest of the year off. So this is our last post for 2014, and after this week we won’t be visiting other blogs for a while. We’ll be back with a new post the first Wednesday of 2015.
Our Christmas Loaf
“Mmmm, this goes down smooth,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, taking a sip of her Milk Punch Cocktail.
“And these chocolate chip cookies pair perfectly with it,” I said.
“Milk and cookies for grownups,” said Mrs K R. “Not that there are any grownups around here.”
“Shall I mix us another round?” I asked, draining my glass.
“Why not?” said Mrs K R. “This is our last post of the year, so let’s celebrate with another of these beauties.”
“And more cookies,” I said. “It’s a great way to start our winter vacation.”
Happy Holidays, everyone! See you in January.
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