Great Pumpkin Punch

First, just a reminder that tonight, Sunday, October 31st, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

As a special celebration of the evening, I am bringing along the following fall inspired variation on my Bernal Heights Milk Punch.

Great Pumpkin Punch

1 Bottle Weller 12 Year Bourbon.
1 Bottle Landy Cognac.
1/2 Bottle Batavia Arrack.
4 Small-ish Sweet Potatoes, washed and roasted.
4 Oranges, Zested.
4 Lemons, Zested.
4 Cloves.
2 Sticks Cassia Cinnamon.

16 oz Water.
1/2 Pound Piloncillo.
1/4 Pound Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds), crushed.

1 quart Straus Family Creamery Whole Milk.

Zest citrus and add zest to Brandy, Bourbon, and Arrack. Juice Oranges and 2 Lemons, strain, and add to aforementioned liquid. Slice Roasted Sweet Potatoes and add to aforementioned liquid. Add Cinnamon and Cloves. Allow to infuse for at least 48 hours.

Heat water and add Piloncillo and Pepitas. Simmer below a boil for 10 minutes and refrigerate over night.

Carefully strain peels, Potatoes, and Spices out of Liquid, trying not to crush potatoes. 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. Filter Pumpkin Seeds out of Syrup, pressing to remove as much liquid as possible, and combine with Flavored Booze Mixture. Cool and allow to stand for a couple days. Rack liquid off of any accumulated sediment into clean bottles and chill well before serving. Makes about 3 quarts.

I will note that at this point, even though some solids have dropped out, this Milk Punch hasn’t cleared up as much as other I have made. I think some of the oils from the pumpkin seeds are in suspension, leaving a louche, like when you add water to orgeat (almond syrup).

I was a bit worried that this would be a horrible mistake, and I would have to throw the whole batch away as a failed experiment. Even some early tastes of the infusion left me worried. However, having tasted the final product, all I’ll say is I couldn’t stop laughing. Totally nailed pumpkin pie in punch form.

Additional note:

Interestingly, once I moved this punch to the refrigerator, the solids began to drop out of the liquid much more rapidly. It would appear chilling aids the “milk fining” process to work more effectively, something I hadn’t really been aware of before.

Bernal Heights Milk Punch, July 2010

First off, our next Savoy Cocktail Book night will take place at Alembic Bar August 1st. I hope to see you there!

There’s occasionally confusion about the exact nature of Savoy Cocktail Book night.

A few years ago, the bartenders at Alembic started an event called Savoy Cocktail Book night.

When one of the bartenders left, it sort of fell out of practice.

After they had stopped holding them, I was talking to Daniel Hyatt, bar manager at Alembic, and telling him they should go back to holding the event.

He suggested, if they were going to hold Savoy Cocktail Book night, that I should join them in hosting the event.

Well, twist my arm!

We restarted the monthly Savoy Cocktail Book nights in December of 2008, and have been holding them every month since.

When I’ve talked to people about the event, they are sometimes under the mis-apprehension that we only make a select number of Savoy Cocktails.

That is not the case.

The bar staff at Alembic and I have done our best to find or make every ingredient called for in the book, from Prune Syrup to Kummel to Hercules.

For the evening of the event, The Alembic puts away its regular menu and instead hands out copies of the Savoy Cocktail Book.  We do our best to make any of the 900, or so, cocktails you might order from the book, from Abbey to the Sauterne Cup.

There are a few exceptions: We don’t make cocktails from the 1999 introduction to the book, mostly because they are uniformly horrible and call for ingredients completely at odds with the rest of the book. Passion Fruit Nectar, Banana Schnapps and the like.  We also sometimes can’t make cocktails due to seasonality of the ingredients or because they call for the ingredients to be steeped two hours before the cocktail is served.

We also usually will make a punch or two, though we cannot promise to be able to make any punch in the book a la minute.

In this week’s case, I’m going to be bringing a version of the Savoy Cocktail Book’s “Milk Punch”, which is a reprint of Jerry Thomas’ California Milk Punch recipe.

Amazingly, I’ve been making versions of this Milk Punch for over a year now!

First batch was in June of 2009: Bernal Heights Milk Punch, June 2009

However, until now I have never attempted going full bore and using Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum and Batavia Arrack in the same batch.

Bernal Heights Milk Punch, July 2010

1 750ml bottle Cognac Park V.S.O.P. (I feel a bit bad about this, but it was the cheapest decent brandy they had at Cask, the only liquor store located near a convenient public transport route and which stocks S&C and Batavia Arrack. You gotta do…)
1 750ml Bottle Smith & Cross Jamaica Rum.
1/2 750ml Bottle Batavia Arrack von Osten.
Peel 4 lemons.
Juice 6 lemons, strained
1 pineapple, chopped and crushed.
6 cloves, crushed.
1 cinnamon stick (cassia).
3 Green Cardamom Pods, crushed.
10 Coriander Seeds, crushed.
4 teaspoons Darjeeling Tea.
16 oz Water.
1/2 # Florida Crystals Natural Sugar.
1 quart Straus Family Creamery Whole Milk.

Peel lemons and add to Brandy.  Juice 4 lemons and chop pineapple.  Add to rums (including Arrack).  Allow both to infuse for at least 48 hours.

Heat water and add spices and tea. After it has steeped for 10 minutes, strain. Add sugar, stir to combine, and cool.

Juice other two lemons and add to pineapple, lemon, and rum mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Rum, lemon, and pineapple mixture. Allow to stand for 30 minutes and filter through cheesecloth. Strain brandy mixture off peels. Combine Rum mixture, brandy mixture, and syrup. Cool, bottle in clean containers, and chill over night. Filter again through coffee filters, leaving any sediment which has collected in the bottom of the containers behind.  Makes about 3 quarts.

If you’re interested in tasting what funky Jamaica Rum and Batavia Arrack will do in the same punch, stop by Alembic Bar, Sunday, August 1st during our Savoy Cocktail Book night, 6 until around Midnight.

Cocktail Kingdom Milk Punch

Cocktail Kingdom Milk Punch

1 liter Landy Cognac
1 liter Appleton V/X
375ml Batavia Arrack
Juice and Peel 5 Lemons, 1 Lime
1 Pineapple, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
3 teaspoons Darjeeling Tea
1 Tablespoon Coriander Seed
4 Cardamom Pods, crushed
1 stick Cassia Cinnamon
3 Cups Natural Sugar
1 Quart Straus Farms Whole Milk

Combine Rum, Brandy, Arrack, Chopped Pineapple, Juice and Peel of Lemons and Limes. Let stand to infuse for at least 2 days.

Heat water and steep tea and spices for the usual 6 minutes. Strain off solids. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Cool spiced tea syrup.

Strain rum mixture. Juice boozy pineapple and add to rum mixture. Add Spiced tea syrup to rum mixture.

Heat Milk to 150 degrees F. If your hot plate blows the circuit breaker in the basement and you can’t find a pan, run next door to Starbucks and have them steam it for you. Add hot milk to sweetened rum mixture.

Let stand for 15 minutes.  Strain punch through cheesecloth and chill well before serving.

Makes about 3 liters.

To serve combine 2 parts punch with 1 part soda.

Sazerac Milk Punch

I was getting a bit low on the previous Milk Punch, so it seemed like it was time for another batch.  Hmmm…  What if I use some of the same ingredients typically found in a Sazerac?

Sazerac Milk Punch


750ml Old Overholt Rye
750ml Wild Turkey Rye
375ml Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
7 Lemons
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups Sugar Florida Crystals Natural Sugar
1 Puerh Tea Disk
1 Quart Straus Farm Whole Milk


Steeping Peels

Combine the spirits in a container large enough to hold them and a little extra. Peel and juice 5 of the lemons. Add juice and peels to spirits and let stand for 2 days.

Puerh Tea

Steep tea in hot water for 5 mins and add sugar. Stir to dissolve. Strain out tea leaves and cool.

Milk Solids

Strain Peels out of booze mixture. Add tea syrup to booze. Squeeze juice from remaining lemons and add to mixture. Heat milk to 145 degrees and add too mixture. Let stand for 30 minutes undisturbed.

Milk Solids

Filter through cheesecloth, removing curdled milk solids.


Add absinthe until you can just begin to taste it.

Sazerac Milk Punch

Bottle in clean resealable containers and chill until you are ready to serve.  Makes about 3 liters. To serve, pour over ice and top with 1 part soda to 2 parts punch.

Mrs. Flannestad remarked, “If you meant to make this taste boozy, you have succeeded.”  Not sure if it really tastes much like a Sazerac, but it does taste like a delicious Rye Whiskey Milk Punch. I was going to bring this along to tonight’s Savoy Cocktail Book event, but clearly that would be very, very wrong with the new paradigm being enforced by the California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control.

Are My Favorite Bartenders Going to be Sent to Jail?”

ABC Crackdown on Infused Liquors

Your Favorite Cocktail Could Get A Bartender Fined

State warns Bay Area bars not to infuse drinks

Illegal Infusions: The Word Gets Out

And the best commentary I’ve seen so far, from Dinah and Joe over at Echoes of Prohibition. Well, Joe is an actual Lawyer…

So let me get this straight, Sangria is illegal!!??  Don’t tell the Spanish!  Any pre-prepared Punch forbidden?  Jerry Thomas turns over in his grave and David Wondrich gets incrementally grayer!  Any house made liqueur, tincture, or bitters is now verboten!?  I’m so glad that vile commercial products made with corn syrup, artificial flavoring and artificial color are just fine and I can’t make an infusion with actual fruit!!!

Basically any alcoholic mixture not mixed a la minute or involving an alcoholic ingredient not purchased through the distribution chain is against the rules?

Time to join the punch making, spirits infusing, speakeasy underground!

‘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?

BOTW–Modernist Punch

To continue with the punch, maybe I should compare the beer making and punch making processes, and see if I can find parallels.

My rough understanding of the beer making process:

1) Grains are malted, which means they are allowed to sprout and begin to transform complex carbohydrates into sugars for use by the growing plant.

2) Malted Grains are dried and milled.

3) Malted Grains are slowly cooked in water to form a sweet solution (aka Wort). 

4) Solids are removed from the solution, and the boil is continued. Hops, or other flavoring agents, may also be added to this solution at various points, for flavor and alleged preservative qualities.

4) Microorganisms (typically yeast) are introduced to the solution.

5) Microorganisms consume the sugars producing flavor, Carbon Dioxide, and, more importantly, alcohol.

6) The solution is racked off, maybe fined or filtered, and bottled in sealed containers, where it continues to ferment and produce alcohol, flavors and now most importantly, Carbon Dioxide.  The Carbon Dioxide, with nowhere else to go, pressurized the containers and dissolves in the beer producing carbonation.

Pop the top!  I’m thirsty!

Anyway, the whole Malting, Milling, and filtering off solids process is too much of a pain for most home brewers and many commercial brewers.  They instead buy “Malt Extract” or “Malt Syrup” and start at step 4.

Punch Making Process:

1) A sweet flavored solution, also known as sherbet, is created by macerating and steeping flavoring agents in sugar and hot water.

2) The sherbet is combined with booze and citrus and allowed to mingle for a period.

2a) If this is a Milk Punch, the combined booze, sherbet, and citrus mixture will be fined by adding warm milk to the solution.  The milk solidifies into curd, which is then removed, leaving the elements of the milk whey behind in the punch.

3) The punch solution is chilled.

4) The punch solution is diluted with water, soda, or champagne and served over ice.

As I mentioned, my e-quaintance Rob DeNunzio had previously experimented with making what he hoped would be a cocktail-like beer.

In addition, the theme of the upcoming dinner is “Italian Modernist” brewers.  Italian brewers who are re-inventing what might be considered beer by many folks.  Chestnut flavored beer, beers made with flowers and herbs, beers that nearly resemble negronis in their flavor profiles.

When Alex pestered me about making punch for the dinner, I think he just wanted some serious booze at a very beery party.

But when I started thinking about it, what could I do that would be in fitting with the theme?  Stretch the idea of punch?

The first thing that occurred to me was beers like Chouffe‘s N’Ice, practically a beer punch already, with its candy sugar, coriander, and curacao orange peels.

What if I went about it from the other direction?

Starting from my Bernal Heights Milk Punch I made some beer-like substitutions.

First I’m going to infuse (dry hop) the booze with hops. I’m also going to replace the tea in the sweetening syrup with hops. I’ll replace a portion of the sweetener with Barley Malt. Last, I’ll skew the flavoring spices towards those often used in some Belgian beers.

Cali-Belgique Pisco Punch. (with apologies to Stone Brewing)

750ml Marion Farms Biodynamic Pisco Style Brandy.
750ml Barbancourt White Rhum.
375ml Batavia Arrack.
1 Pineapple, chopped
6 lemons, peeled and juiced.
1 Quart Straus Family Creamery Whole Milk.
1 Pint Water.
8 teaspoons Cascade Hops.
4 pieces dried Clemetine Peel.
20 Whole Coriander Seeds, crushed.
8 Whole Cloves, crushed.
1/2 stick Cassia Cinnamon, crushed.
1/2 Pound Sugar.
1/4 Pound Malted Barley Syrup.

Place lemon peels in sealed container with rum and batavia arrack. Infuse for 48 hours.

Place pineapple in sealed container with Pisco and juice 4 lemons. Infuse for 24 hours.

For Alex.

Add 4 teaspoon hops to pineapple mixture and shake. Infuse for another 24 hours.


Boil water to a simmer and pour over 4 teaspoons hops, dried clementine peels, cloves, and cinnamon. Dissolve sugar and barley syrup in spiced solution. Cool and allow to stand for 24 hours.

Hop and Barley Malt Syrup.

Bring milk to 140-150 degrees F. Pour Pisco off of pineapple, attempting to squeeze as much juice/booze out of the fruit as possible. Pour warm milk into flavored Pisco, cover, and allow to stand for a half an hour or so.

Floating Curds.

Disturbing curd as little as possible, pour milk and pisco through a fine sieve.

Curd Closeup.

At this point it will look kind of like “louched” absinthe. Filter again through a double layer of cheesecloth.


Remove peels from rum mixture and pour into pisco. Pour flavored syrup through fine sieve into mixture.


Pour all off into clean sealable containers and allow to stand at least 24 hours.

Milk Solids.

Rack punch off of any settled milk solids and filter through coffee filter or similar.

Bottle in clean sealable containers and chill.

Filtered and Bottled.

Serve over ice or with a splash of soda.

In a Glass.

About half way through this process, it occurred to me that I was making a compounded, flavored malt and alcohol beverage.  Oh wait, isn’t that what Zima was?

I mentioned this to Rob and his reply was, “And just think? If it does turn out like Zima, you’ll be filling the sad vacuum it left behind.”

Well, it doesn’t taste like Zima, that’s for sure.

The longer steep time for the spices put those out front. A slight underestimation of the sweetening power of Malted Barley tips this punch towards the sweet side. The use of lighter alcohol makes this seem like, “wait, does it actually have any alcohol?” I could have sworn I put some in…

Oh right, the legendary dangerously drinkable Pisco Punch. See you next week.

Modernist Punch One

When I last saw Alex he bugged me about making punch for an upcoming beer and food dinner we are both attending.

My initial intention was simply to make a batch of the Bernal Heights Milk Punch I’ve been making, but with Pisco instead of Brandy.

However, when I was thinking about the theme of the dinner, I remembered that the host had previously experimented with creating a beer that shared some characteristics with cocktails.

Old-fashioned Home Brewing

Gold Fashioned

Which got me thinking, isn’t turn about fair play?  What if I made a punch that shared some of the characteristics of beer and brought it to the dinner?

I have hops purchased with the intention of creating a hop bitters.

I have barley malt due to my obsession with obscure and unusual sweeteners.

Aren’t there some beers that share the characteristics of Punch?

Punch allegedly is a similar word to the Hindu word for “5” or “hand”.  Supposedly “five” or “hand” signifies the 5 elements of punch:

  1. Strong (booze!)
  2. Sweet (sugar)
  3. Sour (citrus)
  4. Weak (tea, water, wine, and/or ice)
  5. Spice (usually coriander, clove, cinnamon, or cardamom)

Wait a sec? I could almost be describing a Belgian Beer!  Well, OK, a belgian beer and a shot.  But still.

There might be something there!

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.

Bernal Heights Milk Punch, July 2009

Bernal Heights Milk Punch, July 2009
2 750ml bottles Osocalis Brandy.
1 liter Appleton V/X Rum.
1 liter Coruba Rum.
750ml Batavia Arrack von Osten.
Peel 12 organic lemons.
Juice 12 organic lemons, strained.
2 organic pineapple, chopped and crushed.
12 whole cloves, crushed.
2 cinnamon stick (cassia), crushed.
10 Green Cardamom Pods, Crushed.
12 teaspoons Chinese Green Tea (Peet’s Hubei Silvertip).
48 oz Water
1 # Demerara Sugar
1/2 # Florida Crystals Natural Sugar.
1/2 Gallon Straus Family Creamery Whole Milk.

Peel lemons and add to Brandy. Juice 8 lemons and crush pineapple. Add to rums (including Arrack). Allow both to infuse for 48 hours.

California Milk Punch-1

Heat water and add spices and tea. After it has steeped for 10 minutes, strain. Add sugar, stir to combine, and cool.

Juice other four lemons and add to pineapple, lemon, and rum mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Rum, lemon, and pineapple mixture. Allow to stand for 30 minutes and filter through fine strainer.

California Milk Punch-4

Strain brandy mixture off peels. Combine Rum mixture, brandy mixture, and tea syrup. Cool, bottle in clean containers, and chill over night.

California Milk Punch-7

Filter again through coffee filters, leaving any sediment which has collected in the bottom of the containers behind. Bottle in clean sealable containers. Makes about 7 liters.

Evil plan moves ahead.

“But, Erik, why on earth would you bottle punch in used 2 liter soda bottles?”

I’ve wanted to carbonate some sort of booze since hearing that Eben Freeman was carbonating some of his drinks while at WD-50.

A few times, I’ve mentioned this idea to Daniel Hyatt while we were working together at Alembic, and we both thought it a cool idea.

In June we made punches for Savoy Night and it went over well.

Some time after the June Savoy night, I was talking to Jesse Friedman (of Beer and Nosh) and he said, “Hey, you should make a big batch of punch next time and I’ll carbonate it.  Just give it to me in 2 liter soda bottles and I’ll hook it up to my kegerator.”

For the rest of the story, check out Jesse’s blog post: Savoy Sunday

Next step in my evil plan: Punch on tap!

Shopping List

Shopping List for today

2 Bottles Osocalis Brandy.
1 Bottle Appleton V/X.
1 Bottle Coruba Rum.
1 Bottle Batavia Arrack von Osten.
12 Lemons.
2 pineapples.
Florida Crystals Sugar.
2 quart Straus Family Creamery Whole Milk.
Sealable non reactive glass jars big enough to hold more than 4 Liters.