Thursday, June 14, 2012

Milk Cocktails

The craft-cocktail phenomena can be found in any major metropolitan; New York, LA, and Chicago are rife with modern speakeasies. Madison may not be one of the more famous cocktails destinations, but bars such as Nostrano and Merchant have introduced prohibition-era recipes and in-house concoctions to the Wisconsin bar patron.

This has made me more curious about where the mixed drink fits in Wisconsin. I joke that after beer and milk, the brandy old fashioned is Wisconsin’s third official drink. Korbel, a brand that is synonymous with the brandy in Wisconsin, distributes roughly one-third of their production to Wisconsin.1 But beyond the beer and brandy, I think Wisconsin has some room for creativity when it comes to cocktails. Readers, let me introduce to you the Milk Punch.
Good for the bones and the liver!

Yes, milk might not be the first thing to spring to mind when I say ‘gin’, but milk punches have been around since the colonial era.2 And what better state to experiment with the use of milk in cocktails than the Dairy State itself?

Most milk punch recipes I found followed the same formula: 1 cup milk, 2 ounces liquor, and a sprinkling of nutmeg.3 However, I feel like there is room for improvement. Here’s a few recipes I came up with at my home bar (and remember, kids: whole milk only!):

Mendota Sunrise
1 cup milk
2 oz. gin
1 egg white
1 celery stalk

Shake the gin, milk, and egg vigorously until emulsified and frothy. Pour into a highball glass and garnish with celery stalk, cinnamon, and cucumber slice on the rim.

Pinckney Street Special
1 cup milk
1 oz. brandy
2 oz. coffee cream liqueur
1 tbs. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar

Shake milk, brandy, and coffee cream. Pour into glass and add vanilla. Garnish with powdered sugar.

Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch - adapted from Drink Magazine
(This one takes some preparation)

1 bottle (750ml) white rum
Rind from a 1 whole orange
Rind from a 2 whole lemons
1 TBL dried hibiscus leaves
2 cups simple syrup (made by shaking 2 cups water and two cups sugar)
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups milk
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves

Have on hand a 1-gallon container and 2 pitchers (1 should be glass).

In a large glass or ceramic bowl, combine the rum and orange and lemon rinds. Cover tightly and set aside to infuse for 48 hours. Add hibiscus and infuse for 2 hours more. Strain the rum mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a 1-gallon container. Add the simple syrup and stir well. Stir in the lime juice. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk to 180 degrees. Pour the hot milk into the rum mixture. Add the cinnamon and clove. Stir and set aside for 30 minutes or until the mixture curdles. Set a fine-meshed strainer over a pitcher (glass isn't necessary right now). Pour the milk mixture through the strainer. When the flow of liquid has slowed to a drip, place strainer into a glass pitcher and slowly pour contents of first pitcher into the strainer. (Do not remove curd after first straining; it forms a natural filter.) Rate of flow from strainer should be slow and steady, and resulting liquid should be clear. Store punch in a corked bottle or covered container and refrigerate for up to 8 weeks. Serve cold in small, stemmed glasses, such as sherry glasses.

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