New Orleans is full of rituals. There is early morning at Cafe Du Monde when the French Quarter businesses and residents are hosing off their sidewalks, washing down the sins from the night before and steadying themselves for a new batch of visitors. All Saints Day at the cemetery where you cut down, clean up and tidy around the ancient stone monuments to loved ones since passed. Thanksgiving at “The Track” when you wear a silly hat or posh fascinator purchased at Fleur de Paris, long drunken Friday lunches at Galatoire’s, only ordering fish on Fridays, always having your red beans and rice on Mondays, and always, always, WWOZ on the radio.
Then there are drinks. Drinks are a bit of a rite of passage. Hurricanes and Hand Grenades are the beverage of choice in college when you can miraculously survive the onslaught of cheep booze and bright artificial colors. Spicy Bloody Marys call Sunday home as you say goodbye to the weekend and prepare for the business ahead. Pimm’s are very best in the heat of summer when the fruits that adorn them are at their ripest and juiciest. Sazaracs become the aperitif of choice once you establish an appreciation for whiskey and then, one day, you are turned onto the best daytime cocktail ever. Ever. The Brandy Milk Punch.
Like so many things in New Orleans the origins of Brandy Milk Punch were likely beyond the shores of America but it was the restaurateurs of the city that gave the drink a rebirth as the preeminent Brunch cocktail. Today’s version is a combination of brandy (sometimes bourbon), milk, simple syrup and vanilla. It goes down smoothly and is appreciated by spirited young men, elegant elderly women and just about everyone in between.
Like any cocktail you can certainly make it by the glass but the very best way to make Brandy Milk Punch is by the bottle. My friend Julie does that and it has become her hostess gift when invited to dinner parties. You have never seen someone invited to as many dinner parties as Julie. If you are going to make it by the batch, like Julie,my favorite bottle is this one because it looks really nice and pours easily. You just need a funnel to fill it. But you can also make it in Mason jars – which makes it easier to mix but not as neat to pour. Life is a trade off, ya know?
This is a fantastic cocktail for this time of year, when it’s a little cold, a little wet, a little rainy and you just want to start your Sunday brunch a little later and enjoy it a little more.
- 2 ounces Brandy
- 1 ounce simple syrup (if you are anywhere near New Orleans try to find Locally Preserved cane simple syrup – it is a little richer in flavor than regular simple syrup)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ounce milk
- 1/2 ounce whipping cream
- fresh nutmeg
- Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and add a cup of ice. Shake it until your arms hurt, then strain into a champagne coupe or strain over a fresh whiskey glass of ice. Top with fresh grated nutmeg.
- 10 ounces Brandy
- 5 ounces simple syrup
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 7 ounces milk
- 2 1/2 ounces whipping cream
- Add ingredients into the bottle through a funnel. Give it a good shake and then put it in the freezer for one to two hours. Take it out, give it another shake and then show up at the dinner party of your choosing. Invited or not. It won’t matter.
- Note that there is actually a difference when making Brandy Milk Punch by the glass or by the bottle. It is a slightly stronger concoction when making it by the glass because the action of shaking it with ice dilutes the mixture a bit. When you make it by the bottle you pour it over ice but you don't shake it so the recipe calls for a little more milk.