Food - Drink
The Cocktail That Rocked 18th Century British High Society
There exists a certain cocktail that took 18th-century British high society by storm, with fans including playwright Aphra Behn, Charles Dickens, and Benjamin Franklin. Thanks to intrepid mixologists, the notorious milk punch is now appearing on modern menus and even bottled for sale online, but what goes into this old-fashioned drink?
Not to be confused with the milk punch found in New Orleans — which is made with milk, bourbon, vanilla, and simple syrup — 18th-century milk punch consists of milk, citrus, sugar, water, spice, and spirits. It's a variation on the posset, a drink made by mixing warm cream and wine with sugar and spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
When wine or citrus is added to warm dairy, it curdles, and while these curds are left alone in possets, they are removed from milk punch, creating a clarified beverage. Removing the curds also makes the punch shelf-stable and eliminates bitter flavors that can bloom from milk proteins, leaving behind a more floral, spicy, and citrusy taste.
In addition, the whey proteins left behind in milk punch give the drink a smooth, buttery texture. Mixologist Eamon Rockey is credited with re-popularizing 18th century milk punch, and is the first to bottle the beverage for sale in over a century; you might even be lucky enough to find this underrated cocktail at your local trendy bar.