Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Punch May Ruin All Other Fall Cocktails For You

When fall rolls around, many foodies start experiencing a change of palette with the changing leaves. Strawberry oatmeal becomes maple oatmeal; hazelnut coffee gets pumpkin spiced. Cocktails are no exception. This season, hot toddies and mulled wine can take a backseat. Introducing: milk punch. (Fair warning: Pumpkin Spice Latte milk punch may ruin all other fall cocktails for you.)

If you haven't tried it, milk punch is a sweet, spiced, milk-based, shaken cocktail infused with vanilla, nutmeg, and simple syrup, says Cocktail Society. Milk punch is typically made with brandy or bourbon — which, conveniently, are some of the most popular spirits for seasonal fall cocktails, and it can be clarified or unclarified. The difference between regular milk punch and the "clarified" version is all about straining, per Epicurious. In clarified milk punches, hot milk is added to liquor, sugar, and lemon juice, which is left to curdle. The curds are then strained out through a cheesecloth, leaving behind a mild, slightly sweet, visibly clear, infused liquor. Unclarified milk punches have a thicker mouthfeel and a more eggnog-like appearance. Thirsty yet? (We are.) Here's how to make both versions of this cocktail with seasonal flair.

Spice up your cocktail with... milk? (Yes, really.)

In 2021, mixologists Cristian Molina and Victor Illescas of Ai Fiori concocted a clarified milk punch with PSL flair (via Epicurious). Their extensive recipe involves adding hot milk to lemon and orange juices and leaving it for two days to curdle before assembling the cocktail. Their version is a combination of white rum and rye whiskey infused with vanilla bean, brewed coffee, pumpkin puree, lemon zest, orange zest, and a spice blend including clove, cinnamon, and ginger. Wine purveyor Skurnik offers a similar, more savory version made with steeped orange spice tea, an orange-and-lime muddle, pumpkin pie filling, and a bay leaf.

But, if you'd rather skip the straining process altogether, there are seasonal sipping options for non-clarified milk punch, too. Instead of curdling and straining, simply add all your ingredients straight into a shaker with ice, shake, and strain says Sip and Fix. Although, since you'll be skipping the cheesecloth step, adding a bunch of ground spices might not be a great move for the mouthfeel of your cocktail. A sprinkle of cinnamon makes a fabulous garnish, but nobody wants to swallow a glug of it. Instead, Baking Bites recommends making a liquid pumpkin spice extract beforehand, which will incorporate more easily into your mix. (This homemade Pumpkin Spice Liqueur also makes a fine extract substitute.)