Hola my friends,
Ben Franklin was known for many things…he was a printer, a writer, a scientist (remember that electricity experiment with the kite?), an inventor, a diplomat, and a civic leader. And he was also the only person to sign the three documents that established the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the peace treaty with Britain that ended the Revolutionary War, and the Constitution. But did you know that he also loved a good cocktail? Yes, he did…and what we are focused on here today is his love of milk punch!
We discovered this about Ben Franklin when we were opening America Eats Tavern back in 2011. Our team found out that in 1763, Franklin wrote a letter to a friend, the colonial politician James Bowdoin II, and included a recipe for milk punch made from brandy, citrus, sugar, and hot milk.
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One thing that’s different about this kind of a milk punch: this is not a drink made with milk, like New Orleans milk punch or a White Russian…it is clarified with milk. The process of boiling and straining the milk through the cocktail – the clarification – mellows the sharp edges of the alcohol, giving the drink a more mild flavor that tastes kind of creamy, but is also crystal clear. It’s also a shelf-stable cocktail which may have been one reason it was so popular in the 18th century!
Our new version, which our cocktail team (remember Miguel?) made for our Los Angeles restaurant San Laurel, is a Japanese-inspired version of Franklin’s milk punch. It uses Japanese whisky, yuzu, lemongrass, and matcha to give it a beautiful citrus and herbal character. This punch is especially nice if you are having friends and family over for a big backyard gathering, maybe a birthday or a graduation party is coming up? It’s the perfect cocktail because it’s made to be shared with many, and everyone will think you are an alchemist to make a beautiful clear cocktail that is so deep and interesting. You can serve this in a large punch bowl or you can pour the punch into a glass bottle that you can keep on ice, or even bring it as a host gift instead of a bottle of wine.
We’ve never shared this recipe before…I hope you make it and love it, just like I do! Tell me what you think if you have a chance to make it!
Japanese Whisky Milk Punch