Feeling Punchy

By Twinkle VanWinkle

As the holidays approach, gatherings are planned, decorations hung, gifts wrapped and cocktails poured. And everywhere you go there is a glass of eggnog being pushed into your hand.

But as much as I like a good eggnog, I like a creamy, bourbon milk punch much better. And although New Orleans may lay claim to milk punch, the history of milk punch is long, dating to pre-colonial times when brandy and milk were consumed for medicinal reasons more than for fun.

There are hundreds of recipes for milk punch out there, from simple three-ingredient versions to technical ones that only a trained hand can pull off. My recipe lands somewhere in the middle, with a few extra ingredients and steps.

Fortunately, the labor is worth every sip.

RECIPE

Bourbon and Vanilla Milk Punch
Makes a little over ½ gallon of punch

½ cup Heartland Distillers gin (Indianapolis)

1½ cups Four Roses
Small Batch bourbon

½ cup brandy

1 quart whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

3 tea bags of Darjeeling tea or 4 tablespoons in a tea ball

1 vanilla bean

Freshly scraped nutmeg

10 drops Wilks & Wilson Storyville bitters

3 to 4 cinnamon sticks

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat milk and cream to 100 F.

Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape a little of the insides into the milk, then float the bean and cinnamon stick in the milk while it heats up.

Stir so the vanilla gets distributed well.

Add your tea bags or tea ball and let steep during the heating process.

Once the milk is heated thoroughly, strain into a heated punch bowl.

Add spirits and blend well.

Shake bitters into the punch.

Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg and float a few cinnamon sticks in the punch.

Ladle into punch cups or mugs and serve with sprinkle of nutmeg.