Milk punch is a creamy, brandy spiked cocktail that’s sweet, luscious and very easy to sip. This version of milk punch uses a holiday spiced simple syrup that adds a new layer of flavor to the classic brunch cocktail. You’ll love this modern take on the original milk punch recipe.
Whoever heard of milk punch?
Even if you’ve never heard of this unusual drink, you should know that it’s been around for CENTURIES.
First documented in a 16th century travelogue of the Scottish isle of Iona, the earliest written recipe was found in a 1711 cookbook.
Benjamin Franklin made a clarified milk punch made of hot milk, lemon and brandy.
In the 1838 Queen Victoria issued a royal warrant authorizing Nathaniel Whisson to display signage as “purveyors of milk punch to Her Majesty”, in a modern day equivalent of celebrity endorsement.
Read all about the origins of milk punch in this article by the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits.
What you’ll need for this milk punch recipe:
- Brandy, Cognac or Bourbon
- Pumpkin Spice Syrup
- Creme De Cocoa (optional)
- Garnish (optional)
How to make this holiday and brunch cocktail
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add spirits, milk, spiced simple syrup and creme de cocoa (if using).
- Cover the shaker tightly with the lid and shake for 30 seconds or until icy cold.
- Strain into a coupe glass or old fashioned.
- Garnish with grated nutmeg or other accoutrements and enjoy.
What is milk punch?
Traditional Milk punch is a cocktail made with spirits (usually brandy or bourbon), milk, sugar and vanilla and it can be made two ways, clarified or creamy.
Clarified milk punch
Clarified milk punch involves adding lemon, tea and spirits to milk. The acids react with the casein proteins in the milk and create curds. Double straining away the curds eliminates the milky, cloudiness in a technique known as “milk washing“. The resulting drink is clear and nothing like what it started out as. Don’t believe me? Check out this video to see how it’s done.
Creamy milk punch
The creamy version of milk punch is something altogether different than the clarified version. It’s kind of like an eggnog minus the egg, but lighter and (IMO) way more sippable and less cloying. Typically made with brandy or bourbon, sweetened with sugar or simple syrup and a dash of vanilla for richness, it’s a tasty cocktail that’s perfect for brunch and especially nice during the holidays.
Got a crowd? Make a big batch.
If you’re having a group of people for, say, Christmas or New Year’s morning and you want to have something beyond the standard mimosa, milk punch is the answer. And yes… you can make a big batch in advance, though it’s served slightly differently.
- Mix the milk, spirits, pumpkin simple syrup and creme de cocoa (if using) in a large pitcher. (I’ve got measurements for a large batch in the recipe card below.)
- Stir together well, cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
- To serve, fill old-fashioned glasses with ice and pour over ice. Decorate with your favorite garnish.
See, that’s easy, right?
When should I serve/drink the cocktail?
I’ve heard this question A LOT. Milk punch is a very versatile cocktail.
- It’s great for brunch, because it’s lightly sweet and not too boozy.
- This is also a perfect holiday cocktail, say for Christmas, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day instead of a traditional egg nog.
- You can also serve it in place of an afternoon tea. (That’s my kind of pick-me-up).
- Try some instead of liqueurs after dinner. It’s great with a plate of cookies or small sweets.
- This is a very popular drink in South Louisiana and it’s said that a little warm milk punch will cure the ills of a bad hangover.
- Sprinkle of fresh nutmeg
- Cinnamon stick
- Whole star anise
- Mini Gingerbread Men or Simple Sugar Cookie (notched to sit on the rim)
Yes. See the instructions in the recipe card for a pitcher of punch. Instead of shaking each drink in a cocktail shaker, I recommend chilling the pitcher of milk punch until very cold and serving it in an ice filled old fashioned glass for sipping.
As long as you don’t add the ice directly to the pitcher, it will keep for several days in the refrigerator.
More versatile brunch to bed cocktails you might like:
- Apple Cider Wine Hot Punch
- Guava Tangerine Fizz
- Elderflower Prosecco Cocktail
- Hot Buttered Rum (4 ways)
- Coffee Buzz Martini
- Creamy Irish Mocha Latte
- Ruby Thyme Spritzer
- cocktail shaker
FOR A SINGLE MILK PUNCH:
- 2 ounces brandy, cognac or bourbon
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 3/4 ounce Pumpkin Spice syrup or more to taste.
- 1 tablespoon light creme de cacao optional
FOR A PITCHER OF MILK PUNCH:
- 2 cups brandy, cognac or bourbon
- 6 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Syrup see recipe on this site.
- 1/2 cup light creme de cocoa optional
FOR A SINGLE MILK PUNCH COCKTAIL:
- Fill the shaker with ice. Add the brandy or cognac, milk, gingerbread syrup and light creme de cacao if using. Seal the shaker and vigorously shake for 20-30 seconds until icy cold.
- Strain the cocktail into a coupe glass and garnish.
FOR A PITCHER OF MILK PUNCH:
- Combine the ingredients in a large pitcher, cover and chill until very cold.
- When you're ready to serve, give the milk punch a quick stir and pour into old-fashioned glasses over ice. Garnish as desired and serve.