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English Milk Punch

Milk Punch; people who aren’t familiar with the silky, spicy infusion are too often put off, likening the drink to a White Russian, or a Bailey’s. This could not be further from the truth, and while dairy is used in the process, the end result is a clear, amber-hued liquid that is aromatic, silky, and not creamy in the slightest. This concoction has been the bartender’s staple for centuries – Milk Punch is an English recipe dating back to the 17th century. Benjamin Franklin’s recipe is among the most famous, although there are many more variations.

With regards to making Milk Punch, the song remains the same. First, a base cocktail is made, traditionally using rum or brandy (any and every liquor is a viable choice), a few spices, and lemon or some kind of citrus. This mixture is then added to boiled milk, which is then allowed to curdle overnight, and then filtered through cheese cloth. The base cocktail and added ingredients can be whatever you want them to be – something I’ll expand upon below.

Contemporary Milk Punches now use a wide variety of ingredients, almost ad infinitum. For example, one recipe made by bartender Stephen Kurpinsky calls for milk that is infused with . . . wait for it . . . Fruit Loops. As in the cereal. In what can only be described as pioneering, the elixir of life that is left behind from the cereal is used to clarify the punch, but achieves so much more. However, the possibilities remain endless. Mezcal and tequila may be fused with pineapple, pork broth and lemon zest to give the punch a savory, summer shish-kebab character. I came up with that off of the top of my head, and you can too. The world is your punch.

At The Fearrington House Restaurant, we have a delicious, silky punch made with locally sourced ingredients, including many from our own gardens. In keeping with the season, our punch is infused with the familiar flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, and fresh apples. The honey from our bees is infused with geranium and anise hyssop and included in the punch, for a light touch of liquorice candy. The end result is a delightfully dangerous cocktail. It is remarkably smooth, leaving clove, anise, apple and citrus on the palate. The bartenders and tasters enjoyed this punch over a hand-carved ice cube with a splash of the hot cinnamon spice tea and a twist of lemon, but feel free to come visit the bar and enjoy a glass however you like.

– Watson, Fearrington House Restaurant Bartender