Brandy Milk Punch – Embury

2 to 3 ounces of the selected liquor

½ pint sweet milk

Sugar to taste

Prepare the same as a plain milk punch,

Shake with cracked ice until thoroughly blended and chilled, then strain into a Collins glass,

decorate with a dash of grated nutmeg or a sliver of lemon or orange peel


A New Orleans staple, Brandy Milk Punch can probably best be thought of as a very light egg nogg. Milk Punches go back several hundred years, and they’re earned quite a reputation. To borrow a quote surfaced by David Wondrich in his book Imbibe:  Milk Punch is “the surest thing in the world to get drunk on, and so tearfully drunk, that you won’t know whether you are a cow, yourself, or some other foolish thing” (Brooklyn Eagle, 1873).

I love egg nogg, and all things related to egg nogg. They’re traditionally things we drink around Christmas time, and today we’re celebrating Russian Christmas in Moscow so this drink seemed ideal.

Staying at my mother in laws place in Moscow, she really is the perfect host, and its all about drinking and dining with friends and family. Christmas lunch was delicious, Russian salad, red and black caviar, tomato and cucumber salad (Russian produce really is light years better than the UK, I guess because it’s such a large country, the tomatoes are amazing), Sterlet (a small sturgeon), stewed chicken hearts and stomachs, potatoes and a roast chicken of course. Accompanying this was champagne to start, wine, vodka and fernet for after.

I decided brandy milk punch would be my post dinner drink, as its so easy to drink (and make) and is a perfect dessert. Its something you see in a lot of older cocktail books, but something I rarely drink as I’m not being a massive fan of milk or cream behind bars. It has a nasty habit of coating everything you use and being impossible to clean quickly.

Herbert Asbury, who edited the 1920’s version of Jerry Thomas’ Book was a prolific writer. He came to fame recently through the film ‘Gangs of New York’, and his books must sit somewhere between fact and fiction, as from what I can gather a lot of the facts come from the Police Gazette from the 1800’s. I like to think of him as a charming rogue, who researches, but is also quite happy to add Asbury facts as opposed to Actual facts (more on this when I make Egg Nogg). In his book on the Barbary Coast (San Franscisco) I found this in a description about Sydney-Town from the 1800’s

‘Perhaps the lowest of all the Sydney-Town dives was the Fierce Grizzly, so called because a live female bear was kept chained beside the door. The Fierce Grizzly was especially noted partly for various exhibitions in which the bear and a man fought and partly for the nectar-like quality of its milk punches’

The drink was perfect, although very filling, I’m a little caught.

On one hand they are stupidly easy to drink. The nutmeg, which I just love, works beautifully with anything with cream, milk or an egg inside, and then the milk does a good job of hiding any burn you might get from the booze, leaving just the flavour to eke through. On the other hand I really could drink a second or a third, so would find it tricky to get ‘tearfully drunk’ on, unless it was served instead of a meal? I’m reminded of a time at university when after a house party we had no milk for cereal the next morning, but we did have a bottle of Advocaat for my Weetabix. I suspect learning went out the door for the first couple of lectures, but it was a delicious start to the day.

Brandy milk punch on granola?