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Food & Drink

Frozen milk punch makes holiday drinking merry

Remix: a fresh take on the American cocktail

Photo: Jessica Bryce Young, License: N/A

Jessica Bryce Young

December is the month of gathering. Even people who only have guests over once a year probably have them in December, so it’s a good month to keep handy a simple recipe for a large-batch cocktail. Spiked eggnog is the classic holiday punch-bowl drink (see Remix Dec. 1, 2011: eggnog popsicles), but this month we’re going just a bit lighter by Remixing milk punch, a classic drink mostly associated with New Orleans (as so many classic cocktails are). I’m not talking about that swinging-’50s standby, Scotch and milk; though it’s similar in composition, Scotch and milk is the province of ulcer sufferers and white-haired get-outa-my-yard porch drinkers. No, milk punch, a combo of whole milk and brandy, shaken with sugar and dusted with nutmeg, is a boozy morning-after drink – one of those hairs of the dog that serves as both hangover easer and breakfast in one. It’s also a diet-buster (though, lacking eggs, not as bad as eggnog), but hey, December is also the month of all-rules-broken (or at least bent) when it comes to dietary restrictions. (I hear humming “Lip-i-tor, Lip-i-tor” to the tune of “Jingle Bells” totally works as a holiday charm to ward off the milkfat trying to collect in your arteries.)

Serving it frozen isn’t my own invention; I thought it might be, then found that no less than NOLA’s venerable Bourbon House famously serves a frozen milk punch – with sort of a milkshake texture, according to Cocktail Whisperer Warren Bobrow – and Emeril Lagasse has published a recipe for one, though his is somewhat crystalline, like a granita. My Remix is more of a cozy slush, because it’s too alcoholic to actually freeze. (Drinkers, be aware: This is a drink, not a dessert.) The classic recipe lends itself to endless variations – crème de cacao, crème de menthe, Tuaca, bourbon, rye – so I’ll just call this Remix a particularly good combination. It’s less sweet than the classic, and the combo of molasses-rich blackstrap rum, espresso-flavored vodka and Mexican mole bitters makes it both strong and sophisticated. I encourage you to try it, but also to find your own. Happy holiday drinking!


  • 1 quart half-and-half
  • 12 ounces brandy
  • 1 cup powdered or superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Whisk together in large punch bowl. Chill at least two hours before serving. Serve with a dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg.


  • 3 cups half-and half
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces Cruzan blackstrap rum
  • 8 ounces Van Gogh espresso vodka
  • 6 ounces simple syrup or 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters

Whisk together the milk and half-and-half in a large bowl, then whisk in the rest of the ingredients. Transfer to a large freezer-safe container and freeze for four to eight hours until slushy. Stir before serving.

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