Some things just go together -- and the obvious accompaniment to food is drink. Welcome to Booze52, in which we explore all manner of libations, from A to Z, that do much more than just wash down a meal.
Today: A time-tested sibling of eggnog to have on standby this holiday season.
December is a time for wassail and revelry. As a noun, wassail refers to mulled or spiced wine. The verb, however, calls for us to “drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.”
And so I apply this verb quite readily to the tradition-steeped milk punch, a dairy-meets-liquor drink that once warmed many a frostbitten medieval peasant and his lady. The drink has stayed loyal to the holiday season, a no-fail companion to gingerbread, plum pudding and all manner of wintry treats.
Any kind of search on milk punch will reveal that Benjamin Franklin practically owns the brand, having sent a famous recipe to his friend James Bowdoin back in October of, oh, you know, 1763. Milk punch is historically akin to a posset -- milk combined with an acidic liquid like wine or citrus, which curdles the milk. Palates in the Middle Ages may have sipped this merrily, but I prefer a smoother approach. (But we've accounted for you all -- find variations to please any taste below.)
Here it is: a spirited combination of rum, brandy and splash of water, all stirred into a sugar base and layered with good, creamy milk. It’s a close cousin of eggnog, sans the eggs. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t trim a tree without some kind of rum-spiked beverage standing by.
Holiday Milk Punch
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons water
2 ounces brandy
1 ounce aged rum
¼ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons half-and-half or heavy cream
Put sugar in a small bowl. Add water, stir until sugar is dissolved. Add rum and brandy.
Combine milk and cream; place in shaker with some ice. Add rum mixture and shake well. Strain into an Irish Coffee glass. Sprinkle with nutmeg and enjoy.
• Some like it hot, but most like it cold. If you plan to serve it punch-style in a bowl, chill it down with a large ice ring. If you are huddled and shivering by the fireplace, warm the milk gently on the stove, add the rum mixture (no need for the shaker), and omit the ice.
Photos by James Ransom