Brandy Milk Punch is a creamy, satisfying classic cocktail that is one of the signature drinks of New Orleans. This tasty drink is a mixture of milk and brandy, with a touch of vanilla extract and freshly grated nutmeg. It's super easy to make, and truly delicious!
With its combination of warm spice, chilled creaminess, and kick of smooth brandy, this drink is the perfect sip for the winter holiday season! It's kind of like the lighter and a little more versatile cousin of Eggnog.
Although it was likely created even earlier, this style of drink rose to popularity in New Orleans in the 1700's. It's still popular there today, and many bars in the area list it on their menu.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this creamy drink.
- Brandy - I used an Armagnac, which is similar to Cognac but produced in a different region of France. Brandy is most often made from grapes and has a fruity undertone, but with an oaky finish from oak barrel aging. No need to break the bank for this drink: the milk will modulate and smooth out the flavor of the brandy. If you're using Cognac, stick to VS or VSOP.
- Milk - whole milk works great here.
- Vanilla Extract - any extract will work great. If you can, try a double fold vanilla, which means it has double the vanilla flavor in the same volume as regular extract.
- Simple Syrup - plain syrup or vanilla syrup work perfectly.
- Nutmeg - preferably whole nutmeg, so you can grate it fresh for the best aroma.
If you need to make an ingredient substitution, here are some suggestions:
- Brandy - if you don't have brandy, try out a different aged spirit. Bourbon works great in this cocktail, as does dark rum.
- Milk - instead of whole milk, you can use lowfat milk, but it won't be as creamy. You can also go in the other direction and use half and half, or heavy cream, for an even more creamy drink. Experiment until you find the texture that you love.
- Vanilla extract - if you don't have vanilla extract handy, you can try almond extract for flavor. Or, just omit it and try to use vanilla syrup instead.
- Simple syrup - you can use a tablespoon of powdered sugar if you don't have simple syrup. Just add a little more milk than the recipe calls for, and shake the drink a bit longer to make sure all the sugar dissolves.
- Nutmeg - you can use pre-ground nutmeg if you don't have the whole nutmeg available. Or, just use cinnamon instead.
Here are some variations of this drink for you to try out!
- Cinnamon Milk Punch - instead of plain or vanilla simple syrup, try using some cinnamon syrup instead. Garnish with a cinnamon stick (you can also freshly grate some cinnamon on top just like you would with the nutmeg).
- Maple Milk Punch - use maple syrup and maple extract in place of the simple syrup and vanilla extract for a delicious fall spin on this drink.
- Non-Dairy Brandy Milk Punch - you can use a milk substitute, like almond milk, in place of the milk to make this drink dairy free. Coconut cream or coconut milk also work well, but both definitely impart a coconut flavor.
- Egg White Brandy Milk Punch - adding some egg whites to the mixture will give this an even more velvety and rich mouthfeel. With this drink, shake everything without ice before adding in the ice to give it some extra froth. It won't create a super foamy top like on a sour cocktail, because there is no acid ingredient, but it will give the drink a silky texture.
To make this drink, you'll need a jigger or small measuring cup, a bar spoon, a cocktail shaker and strainer, and a serving glass. If you are using whole nutmeg, you'll also need a spice grater. I love this Microplane spice grater, since it's smaller than a regular hand grater and has a curved shape so you can get into the small area of the nutmeg.
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Start out making this drink by adding simple syrup and vanilla extract to a cocktail shaker.
Then, add in the brandy and the milk.
Fill the shaker with ice, seal it up and shake well. You'll want to shake it pretty hard so that the milk gets a little frothy. (It will froth up even more if you use cream.)
Add fresh ice to your cocktail serving glass, and then strain the drink into the glass.
Use a spice grater to grate the nutmeg over top of the drink, and serve.
Hint: if you are making this cocktail ahead of time, wait until just before serving to grate the nutmeg.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are two main types of milk punch cocktails. The first, which this Brandy Milk Punch belongs to, is a drink with milk, sweetener and a spirit. It is creamy and milky in texture. The second type of milk punch is called a clarified milk punch. It is clear in appearance, and is made by curdling milk in the cocktail and then completely straining out the curds.
Although its exact origin is unclear, the Brandy Milk Punch surged to popularity in New Orleans in the 18th century. It has been served in that area ever since, and is especially popular during the holiday season.
Although this recipe is for just one serving, this is the perfect cocktail to make in a big batch! It stores well in the refrigerator, and will keep until the expiration date of your milk. If you're making it in a big batch, mix in ½ ounce of water per cocktail instead of shaking with ice.
Brandy Milk Punch
- Spice grater (if using whole nutmeg)
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1 bar spoon vanilla extract
- 3 ounces whole milk
- 2 ounces brandy
- nutmeg (preferably whole)
- Add the simple syrup, vanilla extract, whole milk and brandy to a cocktail shaker.
- Fill the shaker with ice and shake well, about 15-20 times or until it is well chilled.
- Add ice to your serving glass.
- Strain the drink into the serving glass.
- Grate nutmeg over top of the drink, or sprinkle ground nutmeg if you are not using a whole nutmeg, and serve.
- If you are making a big batch of this cocktail, it will keep in the fridge in an airtight container until the expiration date of the milk used.
- If you want to get this really frothy, shake it without ice first for about a minute before adding the ice and shaking again.
- Substitute in almond milk or coconut milk/cream for a non-dairy version.