Alma School Punch

Every Christmas my Mom asks me to host a cocktail party for her friends. Every year I make basic drinks and some featured thing, usually something I am enthusiastic about at the time.

The first year, I made a featured menu of classic cocktails. The second time, I made Spritz.

This fall, I’ve been making punches, so I made a Punch for her party.

This one is a traditional punch, roughly based on Regent (or is it Regent’s?) Punch. I just tweaked it a bit for what was on hand.

If you haven’t read David Wondrich’s writeup on Esquire, you should.

Regent’s Punch

It leads with, “The Prince Regent was a pig.” and expands from there into some pretty awesome territories.

The other thing which had an influence on the Punch was the section of Jeff Berry’s “Potions of the Caribbean”, where he talked about Haiti. Specifically the Barbancourt Rhum Punch of Joseph Cesar at the Grand Hotel Oloffson with its associations with Graham Greene, Papa Doc, and the film “The Comedians”. Though, I am not exactly sure why I was thinking of a brutal dictatorship while staying in an Arizona gated community.

Regarding the method, I’ve found doing this size oleo/sherbet in a quart zip lock bag works great. Just put the sugar and peel in the zip lock, let it sit overnight. Then the next day, make your spice tea. Steep for a bit, cool slightly, then strain into the quart bag with the oleo (syrup and peel). Re-seal it, and you can squish and shake it until the sugar dissolves, then just throw it in the fridge. Ready to be strained into your bowl the next day.


Alma School Punch
3 lemons, peeled;
1 cara cara orange, peeled;
1 cup sugar.

1 cup water
1 stick cinnamon
7 whole clove
2 bags green tea

375ml rhum barbancourt, 8 year
187ml Calvados
187ml American Brandy
375ml Taylor’s Cream Sherry
1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 Lemon

750ml gruet blanc de noir, chilled
500ml sparkling water, chilled
Freshly grated Nutmeg
1 whole cara cara orange, sliced.

Reserve peeled citrus. Combine Lemon Peels, Orange Peel, and sugar in a ziplock bag. Let sit for 24 hours, massaging occasionally. Steep tea and spices in boiling water and cool slightly. Pour into peel and sugar mixture and shake to dissolve sugar. Chill.
Strain spiced tea syrup into a punch bowl. Juice citrus and strain into punch bowl. Add Rum and Brandies. Add diced pineapple and chill. When ready to serve, add Sparkling Wine, Sherry, and Sparkling Water. Taste and adjust dilution if necessary. It also doesn’t hurt to have a spare lemon around, in case you’d like your punch to be a bit more tart. Garnish with sliced orange and freshly grated nutmeg. Serves 4-15, depending on their level of thirst and time available.


Peel and sugar.


Peel and sugar, after a day.


The bar.


Serving the Punch.


Holidays with the family.

Cape Fear Punch (Revisited)

A while ago I made a version of Alton Brown’s Cape Fear Punch for a party, but wasn’t really thrilled with the way it came out.

A friend invited us over for a party recently. When he mentioned that he had a bunch of Rye Whiskey, I thought I might remake/remodel the Cape Fear Punch using the more classic punch proportions/methods from my Hock Punch.

Cape Fear Punch (revisited)

3 Lemons, peeled
1 Orange, peeled
1 cup sugar

1 cup water, boiling
2 tsp Green Tea
1 tsp whole clove, crushed
1 tsp whole allspice, crushed
1 tsp whole coriander seed, crushed

Juice of 3 lemons
Juice 1 orange
375ml Rye Whiskey
375ml Sparkling Wine, chilled
500ml Carbonated Water, chilled
Nutmeg, freshly grated

Reserve peeled citrus. Combine Lemon Peels, Orange Peel, and sugar in a ziplock bag. Let sit for 24 hours, massaging occasionally. Steep tea and spices in boiling water and cool slightly. Pour into peel and sugar mixture and shake to dissolve sugar. Chill.
Strain spiced tea syrup into a punch bowl. Juice citrus and strain into punch bowl. Add Rye Whiskey, Sparkling Wine, and Sparkling Water. Taste and adjust dilution if necessary. It also doesn’t hurt to have a spare lemon around, in case you’d like your punch to be a bit more tart. Serves 4-8, depending on their level of thirst.

The mistakes I’ve seen in just about every modern punch I’ve tried are that the flavors are too concentrated and the punch is too boozy.

I believe this comes from applying the principles of super saturated paradigm of modern soft drinks and/or cocktails to Punch.

What you want from punch is for it to be “more-ish”.

Punch should be complex enough to be interesting, light enough that it doesn’t overwhelm the palate, and weak enough that it can be drunk as a session beverage.

Hock Punch

Every year, some friends who live in Napa have an Octoberfest party. Or maybe it is an “Oystoberfest”. There is Riesling. There are Sausages. There is Chablis. There are Oysters.

This year I vowed to create, or find, a Riesling Punch for the party. I didn’t have any luck finding an official, vintage, “Hock”, (as Rielsing used to be called,) Punch, so I applied the usual Punch Making Principles. The result was quite delicious.

Hock Punch


Oleo Saccharum:

6 Lemons, peeled
2 Oranges, peeled
2 Cups Powdered Washed Raw or other Demerara style sugar (When I need powdered sugar, I simply put Washed Raw or Demerara sugar in the blender and pulse for a few seconds.)

Reserve peeled fruit. Combine citrus peels and sugar and leave overnight, mixing occasionally.


Spiced Tea Sherbet:

2 Cups Water
2 tsp Green Tea
1 Cinnamon Stick
9 Whole Cloves
4 Whole Allspice
Oleo Saccarum (see above)

Bring water to a boil, cool slightly and pour over tea. After an appropriate interval, strain solids out of warm tea. Add warm tea to citrus peel and sugar mixture. Stir to dissolve sugar. Strain peels out of what is now your Sherbet and refrigerate.


375ml Brandy (I used a reasonably priced Armagnac I got on sale from K&L Wines.)
375ml Rum (Mostly Appletone V/X, but I also added in a little of a mostly empty bottle of pampero anniversario. Punch. Always a great opportunity to get rid of odd and ends of bottles lying around your liquor cabinet.)
1 Cup Batavia Arrack
2 Bottles Off Dry chilled Riesling
Juice from the 6 lemons and 2 oranges (see above)
Spiced Tea Sherbet (see above)
1 liter Chilled Sparkling Water

Combine ingredients and serve to festive partygoers!


New Year Punch, 2012

Had a few people over for Chinese New Year dinner, so figured I should make a punch. Didn’t know if everyone would be drinking so left the booze out for people to add in their individual cups.

It had to be red and gold, thus the pomegranate and orange wheel garnishes.

Chinese New Year Punch, 2012

Peel and Juice 4 Lemons
1 Cup Sugar
16 oz Pomegranate Juice
2 Teaspoons Green Tea
4 Whole Cloves
4 Green Cardamom Pods, crushed
1 Cup Water
1 Bottle Knudsen Sparkling Pomegranate, Chilled
Oranges, sliced for garnish
Freshly grated nutmeg

Macerate the Lemon Peels in the Sugar until they release their oils.

Boil water and combine with tea and spices. Steep for 6 Minutes.

Strain hot spiced tea into sugar and peel mixture. Stir to dissolve sugar. Combine strained lemon juice with spiced tea syrup and chill your “Shrub”.

Pour Shrub into punch bowl, add Pomegranate Juice. When guests arrive add ice and Sparkling Pomegranate. Garnish with orange wheels. Serve in small cups and dust with freshly grated nutmeg. Add booze to taste, if desired.

Ben Franklin’s Milk Punch

Just so you know I’m not completely nuts, here is Ben Franklin’s recipe for Milk Punch, circa 1763, via documents on the Massachusetts Historical Society website.

Ben Franklin’s Milk Punch

Franklin’s Milk Punch recipe shares characteristics of two types of beverages–possets and syllabubs. Possets combine hot milk with ale, wine, or brandy, sugar, and spices. Heat and alcohol curdle the milk. Possets were used as remedies for colds, and were consumed from the spout of a posset cup, which let one drink the whey from the bottom and eat the curd later. Syllabubs combine milk with wine and lemon juice (or other acids); the acid from the wine and juice curdle the milk. Served in a glass, the foamy curd of the syllabub is eaten with a spoon and the punch drunk.

To make Milk Punch

Take 6 quarts of Brandy, and the Rinds of 44 Lemons pared very thin; Steep the Rinds in the Brandy 24 hours; then strain it off. Put to it 4 Quarts of Water, 4 large Nutmegs grated, 2 quarts of Lemon Juice, 2 pound of double refined Sugar. When the Sugar is dissolv’d, boil 3 Quarts of Milk and put to the rest hot as you take it off the Fire, and stir it about. Let it stand two Hours; then run it thro’ a Jelly-bag till it is clear; then bottle it off. —

As you can see, I’m not taking too many liberties! The brandy would have been cask strength at the time, thus I feel OK using a bit less liquid. I have to say, though, he was pretty liberal with the citrus!

Conduit Street Punch

So I was looking at a couple of these bottles of “White Whiskey” in my cabinet and thinking to myself, “When on earth will I ever drink this?” Casting about for ways to spare my family the trouble of disposing it after my demise, I got to thinking about the origins of Gin on a base of pot still grain spirit. Then I was reminded that David Wondrich, in his awesome book, “Punch: The Delights and Dangers of the Flowing Bowl,” remarked that the John Collins was a type of punch.

In fact, Reza Esmaili (now of Long Bar & Bistro) once had a drink on the menu at the late lamented Conduit Restaurant called (I think) the Hanover Collins. It had Genevieve Gin, Lemon Juice, and sugar. When I asked about the name, he got enthusiastic and ran to get his notebook, so he could recite the following excerpt.

My name is John Collins,
head-waiter at Limmer’s,
The corner of Conduit Street,
Hanover Square;
My chief occupation is filling of brimmers,
To solace young gentlemen laden with care.

Supposedly, he informed me, the Collins was named after the head waiter at this particular establishment in honor of his wonderful Gin Punch.

Hm, if the Collins is a Punch, maybe I could use these unaged whiskies to replicate it. A sort of bottled Tom Collins Mix.

Well, why not?

Starting with the methods and proportions from my adaption of Jerry Thomas’ California Milk Punch, we’ll give it a try.

Conduit Street Punch

1 Bottle Tuthilltown Old Gristmill Unaged Corn Whiskey, 750ml
1 Bottle Tuthilltown Hudson Unaged Corn Whiskey, 375ml
1 Bottle Death’s Door White Whiskey, 750ml

.6 oz Juniper Berries, Crushed
1 TBSP Coriander, Crushed
1 tsp Celery Seed, Crushed
1 tsp Anise Seed, Crushed
1 Cassia Cinnamon Stick
6 Green Cardamom Pods, Crushed
1 Long Pepper Pod, Crushed

6 Seville Oranges
4 Lemons
2 Limes

16 oz Water
16 oz Sugar
4 tsp Hubei Silver Tips Tea

1 Quart Straus Farms Milk

Zest citrus and add zest to Whiskies. Juice Oranges, 2 Lemons, and 2 limes. Strain, and add to aforementioned liquid. Add Spices. Allow to infuse for 48 hours.

Heat water and add tea. Steep 6 minutes and stir in sugar. Strain tea leaves out of syrup and chill.

Strain Peels and Spices out of Liquid. Juice other two lemons and add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Allow to stand undisturbed for 30 minutes and filter through cheesecloth, removing milk solids. Add Tea Syrup to filtered booze mixture and pour into clean containers. Allow to stand for a couple days*. Rack clear liquid off of any accumulated sediment into clean bottles and store. Chill well before serving. Serve on ice and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Makes about 3 quarts.

*If you have space in your refrigerator, storing the punch chilled will greatly accelerate the separation of the remaining milk solids from the other liquids.

Well, hm. Tasting this room temperature, last night, after the Milk step, I was struck by two things. First, the Celery Seed was a mistake. It has an unpleasant earthy flavor which distracts from the higher flavors of anise and juniper. Second, this doesn’t taste like it has any booze in it at all.

When I serve my Milk Punches to people, they often remark that they could easily drink a pint glass of them, they are so smooth. I generally discourage that, as, smoothness and drinkability aside, I am pretty sure the alcohol content is up near 25%. And those were the Milk Punches made from rough spirits like Batavia Arrack and Jamaican Rum. This one, made from unaged pot still clear whiskey, is on an another level of smoothness altogether. Is this vaguely herby citrus water or punch?

I’m not convinced this particular Milk Punch is super awesome, I wish I had left out the Celery Seed. But I will bring it along tomorrow night, Feb 27, 2011, for Savoy Night at Alembic Bar. Stop by and ask for a taste, if you are curious. But I recommend caution.


So, the celery seed element calmed down a lot after resting, and I have decided this is quite an enjoyable punch. The flavor is very light and somewhat reminiscent of Yellow Chartreuse. While fairly sweet, it has a somewhat dry presentation. It is really good, about 50-50 with chilled soda water, though still produces a pretty potent buzz.

‘Sconnie Milk Punch

Been making variations on Jerry Thomas’ California Milk Punch since last June.

Most recent variation executed in my home state of Wisconsin for a New Year’s gathering with some friends.

Sconnie Milk Punch

‘Sconnie Milk Punch

6 Lemons
4 Cara Cara Oranges
1 bottle Korbel VSOP
1 bottle Appleton V/X
1/2 bottle Batavia Arrack von Osten

4 bags Twinnings Darjeeling Tea
2 1/2 cups water
3 cups Natural Cane Sugar
1 stick Cinnamon
4 Whole Cloves
4 Allspice Berries

1 pint Whole Milk

Peel 4 lemons and 4 oranges.  Combine Brandy, Rum, and Batavia Arrack.  Add strained juice of 4 oranges and 4 lemons.  Steep citrus peel in booze mixture for 48 hours.

Heat water and add spices and sugar.  When it is at a simmer, remove from heat and add tea bags for 5 minutes.  Remove tea bags and cool.

Remove peels from booze, remove spices from syrup.  Combine.  Add juice 2 more lemons.  Scald milk mixture and add to booze and citrus base.   Allow to stand for 25 minutes without disturbing.  Filter milk solids off through fine strainer or cheese cloth.  Allow to stand overnight in a cool area.  Remove clear punch from settled out solids. Makes about 3 quarts.

Chill well and serve by combining with equal parts fizzy water.

Without some of my usual spices and pineapple, this was a little more citrus heavy than other versions.  Still, quite tasty.

Described by Rich, “Tastes like Orangina, but kicks your ass.”

Where did the beer go?

Milk Punch Questions

Got a question regarding the Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch.

Hey brother!

I’d like to ask you about Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch. I made it exactly according to the recipe, but it came out cloudy.

Has this ever happened to you?

Do you think the milk wasn’t curdled enough? I let it sit for 40 minutes. Does the fact that it was pasteurized make a difference?

Do you think it might have been the strainer I used? What type do you use? I used a fine mesh strainer, then even put cheescloth layers inside. Didn’t help. It’s as cloudy as a louched absinthe, but no visible sediment or clumps.

Do you think it’s still good to drink? Any other ideas to save it?


The Milk step can be finicky.

The punch should be fine, though I would keep it in the fridge.

I put it first through a fine mesh strainer, then through cheese cloth. Then after it sits for a couple days when the remaining milk solids settle out, I rack it off.

I haven’t played around with commercial vs. less commercial milk. I always use the straus family creamery whole milk. My guess is the problem might be homogenization, not pasteurization. Straus Family don’t homogenize their milk.

When I make milk punches, the milk solids and fats always fall out of solution after a couple days, leaving it quite clear. This may not happen as readily with homogenized milk.

Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch

Hibiscus Milk Punch

Continuing with my series of photos deemed “too dark” or “poorly composed” for tastespotting.


Le Sigh.  I will attempt to move on from my bitter, bitter disappointment at having all my photo submissions rejected by tastespotting.  If they don’t want them, so be it.

This is a follow up to the Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch post of a few days ago.

The general consensus is Drink’s Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch is very tasty.  It’s ridiculously drinkable.

Almost no one can identify the dairy character before being told the “secret ingredient”.  After being told they are usually able to identify the slight lactic acid tang and smell.  My boss at work thought we should make it for the week that sommeliers gather in San Francisco for some exam, just to screw with them.  “Looks like Rose Wine, tastes like, uh, delicious punch.”  “But can you tell us the secret ingredient?”

About all I’d say is I get a bit tired of it after a couple glasses.  It’s complex, but kind of unidirectional.  I think it would be significantly improved by using a Rum with more character than the El Dorado White.  Maybe the Barbancourt White, some portion of White Rhum Agricole, or even Wray & Nephew Overproof.

Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch

A friend, and coworker, of mine recently wrote about a curdled milk experiment of hers on this post: Whey

Being, uh, a competitive sort, I couldn’t let this sort of thing go unchallenged.

Well, not really.

I’d read these sorts of “Milk Punch” recipes for a long time now, and always wanted to try one.  I just didn’t know if they were good or just weird.

I’d also recently read on Lauren Clarke’s blog, (Milk Punch,) that bartenders at Drink in Boston (well, Fort Point,) were experimenting with a Hibiscus Milk Punch. Frederic from Cocktail Virgin Slut also recently wrote up Milk Punches on their post: Hibiscus White Rum Milk Punch

With all these people making Milk Punches, there’s no way I could not experiment with one. I more or less followed the recipe from Drink.

1 bottle (750 ml.) White Demerara Rum
Pared rind of 1 orange
Pared rind of 2 lemons
1/4 cup tablespoon dried Hibiscus Flowers (Also called “Jamaica” or “Sorrel”. Available at Latin American and Caribbean stores.)
1 1/2 cup 2-1 Simple Syrup made from Natural Cane Sugar
1 cup fresh Lime juice, strained
2 cups Straus Farms Whole Milk
1/2 stick Mexican Cinnamon, crushed
4 whole Cloves, crushed

Place citrus peels in rum for 24 hours. Add Hibiscus flowers and let sit for another 24 hours.

Add cinnamon and cloves to Milk and heat to 180 degrees.

Strain citrus peels and hibiscus out of rum.

Add sugar syrup and lime juice to rum.

Add heated milk to rum and let stand until it curdles (1/2 hour or so).


Set a strainer over stainless container and line with layers of cheese cloth. Strain mixture through cheesecloth and then bottle in a clean container. I am not sure what to do with the curdled milk solids. It is more or less boozy, sweet, cottage cheese.

Freshly Strained

The next day, more milk solids will likely settle out.


Pour the clear liquid off, leaving the solids behind. Strain through a coffee filter or similar and bottle. The resulting liquid will be pretty clear and look more or less like Rose Wine.  The recipe makes a bit more than a liter of punch.

Racked Off

The folks at Drink suggest serving this in a small sherry type glass.