Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Historical (Cocktail Whisperer) Milk Punch

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I wish I had the chance to use Johnny Drum "Private Stock" 101 Proof Bourbon in the Milk Punch I made this year at Tales of the Cocktail. If you are not familiar with Johnny Drum or the historic Milk Punch, let's just start with a short history of this venerable Kentucky Bourbon. Johnny Drum "Private Stock" is a Kentucky "Sour Mash" Bourbon Whiskey and quite robust in the glass, weighing in at 50.5% alcohol by volume or 101 Proof. It has more than enough stuffing for Bourbon cocktails that involve milk, heavy cream, simple syrup, bitters and real vanilla extract. It is said that the milk punch can revitalize the waking dead or relax the inebriated fool the night prior.

The historic milk punch is a restorative and a relaxant. At the recent Tales of the Cocktail held yearly in New Orleans, the home of the American Cocktail, my Milk Punch showed very favorably against the molecular influenced "peanut butter" milk punch crafted by my friend Christopher James and the flavor transformer of a milk punch from my friend Suzanne Long.

Serving my Milk Punch at Tales!

I stuck to the tried and true (at least by myself) Historic Milk Punch. Crafted a la minute, my Milk Punch contains more than enough Bourbon to light up a small city. But you'd never know it by the amount of heavy cream, whole milk, vanilla and bitters in this drink.

The real reason for making a Milk Punch is New Orleans herself. She is a lazy city that is enrobed in a veil of humidity. Time moves slowly and thirst is always a going concern. You must pour into your throat more than just water. You need to pour in vast quantities of dreams. This town is full of dreams. From the moment that you step off the plane and smell that aroma off the Mississippi, the smell of decay, you know that this town is all about dreams. The Milk Punch is a dreamy little drink for people who embrace New Orleans.

Louis Armstrong, although living in New York, loved the Milk Punch and may have lamented that no one really embraced the Milk Punch in New York City as they did in New Orleans. The Milk Punch is a slippery reminder that cooling liquid drinks can pack enough punch to keep you interested. Certainly mine kept everyone who tasted it very interested.

The ingredients for a New Orleans-style Milk Punch vary. They are historical in nature, but as far as pinning down a specific recipe, it's up for grabs which one is the most authentic. There are thick ones and thin ones and all sorts of punches for different times of the day.

My Milk Punch is a thing of rare beauty on a hot morning. I love nothing more than wandering down the streets in New Orleans with a go-cup filled with a most intriguing concoction. The thing of my dreams and of my memories is this hand-held bit of paradise. It's hard to explain what it is like roaming the streets of New Orleans with a Milk Punch in hand. It is akin, I suppose, to an ice cold beer at a sporting event - not that I at all like sports - but it's what I think would be refreshing and satisfying while being poured down your throat. Stranger things have happened with Milk Punch. Going back to sleep when on Island Time is one of the side effects of a potent Milk Punch. 

Mine falls into the latter category of mind-erasers that taste delicious. Which brings me back to that elegant bottle of Bourbon made with all-natural ingredients by people who care about the craft of Bourbon. I think it's essential to make this venerable spirit with all-natural ingredients! It might not taste any better to you, but for my money I want something that is purely delicious! 

I chose Johnny Drum "Private Stock" 101 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey because it speaks very clearly of the passion that goes into making a quality product.

The Johnny Drum is gorgeous in the glass. With notes of roasted nuts, coconut oils, citrus zest and rock candy simple syrup, this is certainly no Saturday night mixer. It is robust and brusque if you drink too much in a swallow. Remember, it is 101 Proof and it will seriously kick your butt. When Johnny Drum is combined in a Milk Punch, there is little time for you to consider drinking less once you've poured a few glasses of these down your gullet.

The vanilla is equally important. You'll rue the day that you use imitation vanilla in your Milk Punch. You must use the best vanilla that you can buy. Go to a the web and Google "Real Vanilla". Choose the one that resonates with you. I find Mexican Vanilla quite beguiling and there are varieties from the South Seas that will scream the tropics. I'm convinced that a bit of Absinthe is also necessary to add flavor and a touch of mystery to the punch. Don't skimp and use an artificially dyed Absinthe. It's just not done!

The Historical (Cocktail Whisperer) Milk Punch is a lovely way to start the day - whatever time of day you have the chance to enjoy her wiles. Just make sure it's over 80 degrees outside with at least 80% humidity. Liquid air, liquid drink, liquid refreshment... Liquid sensuality in your glass pouring past your teeth into the nether regions of your memory...

The Historical (Cocktail Whisperer) Milk Punch

Ingredients for about 25 persons: 
(It's a punch - have a party!)

• 1 ½ Gallons Whole Milk or Regular Milk 
• 2 Qts. Heavy Whipping Cream
• 1 Bottle Johnny Drum "Private Stock" Bourbon
• 2-3 Tablespoons Tenneyson Absinthe
• ½ Qt. Fee Brothers Rock Candy Simple Syrup
• 4 Tablespoons (or to taste) REAL Vanilla (No imitations allowed!)
• 1 Tablespoon The Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters scattered over the top
• Scrapings of both nutmeg and cinnamon (fresh is essential)
• 2 dashes of Orange Flower Water (No more, you don't want this to taste like a sachet!)
• 1 Bottle (750ml size) Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (Plain)

1. Add all the liquid ingredients except the bitters to a punch bowl.
2. Mix well to combine and scatter bitters over the top.
3. Chill in the fridge for an hour or so before serving. Don't add ice. Keep your ice in a separate bowl; you certainly don’t want to dilute this punch!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

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