Drink of the Week: Hot Milk Punch

Hot Milk Punch.Merry Christmas from Drink of the Week!

Now, the way we figure it, your holiday is likely breaking down in one of two ways. Either you’re being besieged with relatives — or are yourself a besieging relative — or you’re one of those folks who, for whatever reason, are finding yourself with not much more than a movie and maybe the proverbial Chinese dinner to keep you company this year.

Whichever of these positions you find yourself in, tonight might well be the perfect time for a super-duper relaxing hot drink. How relaxing? Well David Wondrich, usually at no loss for words in providing mixology advice along with generous dollops of background and history, only had two words to describe this recipe for Hot Milk Punch: “liquid Ambien.”

Now, to be clear, punches of all types, including milk punch, have quite a long history and I’m only starting to learn about them myself. There’s a cold version of this drink and we might well revisit the topic then. In the meantime, it’s Christmas and, most likely, you’re either trying to escape from numerous family duties while reading this, or perhaps distracting yourself in various ways. So, let’s keep it about as simple as we can.

Hot Milk Punch

1 ounce dark rum
1 ounce brandy
6 ounces milk (full fat, probably)
1 teaspoon sugar
nutmeg (garnish)

Heat the milk, preferably in a pan. For whatever reason, microwaved milk seems to lack a certain comforting consistency. While you’re heating the milk, combine the booze and sugar in a coffee cup. Pour in the hot milk and stir. Top with some ground nutmeg and sip cautiously. Whatever your situation, be grateful if you have a roof over your head and have the wherewithal to supply yourself with delicious alcoholic concoctions. Maybe think about actually doing something nice for people who don’t.


What with the holidays and all, it’s been a pretty crazy week here at DOTW Manor. On the one hand, that made Milk Punch just the right beverage…on the other hand, my general high level of busyness limited my experimentation to a certain degree.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed my drink using both Martell and Reynal brandy combined with Whaler’s Rum, a very inexpensive and very sweet dark rum. Using much pricier (and generally really delicious) Papa’s Pilar dark rum wasn’t quite as comforting somehow. Bacardi 8 simply wasn’t dark enough. Indeed, I really enjoyed the drink when I discarded complexity entirely and used two ounces of the Whaler’s with no brandy at all.

So, make it entirely with a very sweet dark rum, or go whole hog sophisticate and use only cognac. It’s your bedtime. Hope the day that comes before it turns out to be a more or less merry one.


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Drink of the Week: The Suburban

The SuburbanToday’s beverage serves a dual purpose. First, it continues my ongoing interest in classic cocktails featuring more than one variety of hard liquor. Secondly, it highlights the fact that you’re erstwhile cocktail explorer will very likely be soon be exchanging one not-quite-urban home base for another. Yes, if all goes as planned I’ll soon be leaving the vast quasi-suburban enclave that is Orange County, California only to very possibly move to theĀ  more centrally located, yet no less suburban, not-quite-city we call the San Fernando Valley — which is Los Angeles in the sense that you get to vote for the mayor of L.A.

As for the Suburban cocktail, it’s a very relaxing but ultra-sophisticated drink that won’t be too all tastes. You might call it “urbane.”

The Suburban

1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
1/2 ounce dark rum
1/2 ounce port
1 dash aromatic bitters
1 dash orange bitters

The ingredients might be unusual but the methodology is as routine as can be. Combine your various boozes and bitters in your cocktail shaker or mixing glass with plenty of ice. Purists will insist on stirring the concoction but I say shaking will also work. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and drink a toast to Walt Disney, who envisioned fantastical wonderlands-cum-bedroom communities — most of which never came to be — in Orange County and elsewhere. (Uncle Walt’s company did finally build one planned community, Celebration, Florida, during the 1980s.)

For this drink, I used my go-to rye, 100 proof Rittenhouse. Some recipes call specifically for Jamaican Rum, but I used the very decent (and more reasonably priced) dark Whaler’s Rum from Hawaii because that’s what I had on hand. For the exact same reasons, I also used the inexpensive tawny port I’ve been using for a number of drinks lately.

As for the history of this beverage, which dates back to the early 20th century, it apparently has more to do with horse racing than civic sprawl. Even so, for now, the self-indulgent question remains, will Drink of the Week Central end up in one of the bedroom communities of the San Fernando Valley, where my new day job is located, or will I be taking advantage of my beloved hometown’s growing subway system with a move to the vastly more cityish Hollywood/Silver Lake/Los Feliz/Koreatown axis, or will I split the difference and land in North Hollywood or Studio City?

All I can tell you is that, if suburbia be my destination, I’ll try to make it the laid back no-judgements utopian Never Never Land envisioned by Hal David and Burt Bacharach, who also sings, in his fashion, in the song below. Okay, that may be unlikely, but at cocktail hour there’s a little bit of Hasbrook Heights in every home. (The song actually starts at around 0:15.)


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