Milk Punch

milk punch“Punch! ’Tis my Morning’s Draught, my Table-drink, my Treat, my Regalia, my every thing.” So speaks the title character in 17th century English dramatist Aphra Behn’s play The Widow Ranter, and apparently Behn was a big fan herself. After trying her beloved milk punch, I get what all the fuss is about. This blog has been focused on desserts for the last few years, but I’m going to make an exception for this drink, which is practically a liquid dessert anyway.

There are two kinds of milk punch. Better known today is the New Orleans version, in which you mix cold milk or cream with bourbon or brandy, and sugar or simple syrup, then serve the drink over ice. The result is creamy, sort of like eggnog.

That drink is good, but I feel it’s no match for the Widow Ranter’s “Table-drink,” which is now called clarified milk punch, or English milk punch. For this beverage, liquor, lemon, and sugar are mixed with very hot milk, which curdles as a result. The mixture is then filtered to remove the curds but allow the milk whey to remain. This may not sound appealing, and when you see the pictures below, you may have serious doubts. But this punch is amazing. It’s smooth, silky, and pleasantly sweet, with citrus and spice flavorings — served cold over ice, it’s perfect on a hot summer day.

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Fruit Shrubs

shrub with seltzer

I apologize to my readers for being away from the blog universe for a few weeks. I was in Orlando, Florida, having a decidedly non-colonial experience with my family at the Harry Potter theme park. I was also letting my shrubs age and mellow.

Shrubs, also known as “drinking vinegars,” are syrups made from fruit (usually berries), vinegar, and sugar, which are then combined with water, wine, or spirits to make a refreshing, tart summer drink. An easy way to preserve fruits in the days before refrigeration, shrubs date back to 17th century England and were popular thirst-quenchers in colonial America. Continue reading