S.I.P.#18 – Punch! – English Milk Punch

Those people, who have been tracking my blog for a relatively long time, probably saw the logo, which is showing on the left right now. It is a logo of an on-line event for Russian-speaking blogger-imbibers, which has, also, such an eye-catching English name – S.I.P. – Shake! Imbibe! Post! These events, or on-line parties were pretty popular in the Russian segment of the World Wide Web (also called as Runet, means, ‘Russian Internet’) for the past few years until Russia committed the well-known egregious aggression against Ukraine, and generally speaking against all of the civilized world. Unfortunately most Russians (i mean here, the citizens of the Russian Federation. It isn’t a question of nationality – the truth is that I am an ethnic Russian), so, most Russians are giving warm encouragement to this aggression and, consequently, our companionship broke down completely. Namely for this reason our eighteenth S.I.P. is expected to be quite desolated 8)

The topic of S.I.P.#18 is Punch! As a matter of fact this topic runs contrary to our common rule with which we usually choose the exact cocktail for our collective exploring and sharing of opinions. This topic is an absolutely different case. It’s clear that punch is quite a wide thing, and it seems almost impossible to get an agreement in choices of even a couple of participants.

Clear English Milk Punch in a decanter | ScienceOfDrink.com

Trying to understand certain key specifics of punch in the modern world of mixing drinks, I could realize only this one – punch was a big cocktail :) I mean, punch is a sort of huge mixed drink. A sort of cocktail for a company. But then, in our individualistic world, there are no strong reasons in modern bar culture which can prevent client’s desire to get an individual serving of his punch of choice which should be paid for appropriately ;)

The Punch! | ScienceOfDrink.com

However, despite having some experience in individual punches like Gin Punch, Knickerbocker Punch, Pisco Punch, or Ti’ Punch, I decided to try something real. I decided to prepare something that I can really share with my friends. And that statement of question turned out a true challenge for me. You know, it is not so easy to mix up big punches not at the big party but in a quiet workroom. Certainly, it is no problem to prepare the drink, but utilizing it becomes a serious problem. In spite of having a hobby in cocktail mixing, I drink really not very much, my wife drinks far less, but if I invite an appropriate crowd of friends, I, perhaps, won’t be able to have enough time for photographing and describing. It take quite a different mood to throw a party or create a post. But even so I could find a solution!

The English Milk Punch | ScienceOfDrink.com

For the S.I.P.#18 – Punch! I picked out an absolutely unique punch – very old [it is said to have been created by the famous English playwright of the Restoration Aphra Behn], noble [created in English high-society and printed, specifically, in the first cocktail chrestomathy – How to Mix Drinks, or Bon-Vivants Companion by Jerry Thomas], absolutely the weirdest [it contains milk but it is pretty clear, isn’t it weird?], and very popular in modern American cocktail geek circles, drink.

Going by, lets me say, a mixoshpere, it looks like this punch have been gathering popularity for last year or two. Esquire experts gave it a ‘Cocktail of the Year’ badge in 2014. It can really excite.

For making an acquaintance I used a recipe from the aforementioned Thomas’ first book. Obviously I had to make some unessential changes, for example, I converted the recipe to metric units and slightly scaled it.

The English Milk Punch straight up | ScienceOfDrink.com

English Milk Punch

120 ml lemon juice
the rind of one lemon
150 g sugar
1/3 pineapple, peeled, sliced
2 cloves
7 coriander seeds
1/3 small cinnamon stick
160 ml cognac
160 ml rum
*40 ml arrack
80 ml strong green tea
330 ml boiling water
330 ml whole milk
Peel a middle sized lemon trying to avoid white pith underneath. Put the lemon rind into an appropriate saucepan and add about 2/3 of the sugar, rub thoroughly with a muddler. Then add sliced pineapple, spices, and muddle. Add the other ingredients except milk. The boiled water should be added last. Briskly stir for dissolving of the sugar and close tight. Let the mix steep at least 6 hours in a cold place. After steeping, add hot milk and 40 ml of fresh pressed lemon juice. In this very moment milk must curl. Filter through filter paper / jelly-bag / cheesecloth or something like this. The drink must be quite clear, if you can’t filter, try to settle the punch. Strained punch must be refrigerated before serving. Serve straight up. This recipe is about for 1 liter of the punch.

Now, as usual, some words about the ingredients particularly about arrack. First of all you should know – it isn’t that arrack which is similar to ouzo :) It is an absolutely another beverage. It is a strong alcohol beverage made in some Asian countries like Indonesia or Sri Lanka and which usually is distilled from quite exotic raw stuff. In Indonesia arrack is distilled from molasses with an addition of fermented red rice cookies (Batavia Arrack), and in Sri Lanka it is distilled from fermented juice of coconut palm tree flowers. And yes, in fact, arrack is an essential component of many old punches. But here… There is certain strange asterisk in the original recipe, isn’t it? And what do we know about asterisks? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an asterisk is a symbol * that is used in printed text especially to tell someone to read a note that can be found at the bottom of a page. But the truth is that there isn’t a note at the bottom of a page [I have an e-copy of 1962 edt. digitized by Google]. What’s a pity… Oh, dear, it seems we will never find out the meaning … But I suppose, this asterisk means… omit this if you haven’t got it, isn’t it? Really, you must admit it, that it is the most believable speculation. So, I discarded arrack [I just haven’t got it in my liquor cabinet] with clear conscience 8)

The ingredients of English Milk Punch | ScienceOfDrink.com

As I decided to try this historical recipe of the English Punch I had to read some historical surveys (actually it was only Punch by D. Wondrich and the excellent post about this punch by Adam Elmegirab on the blog called The Jerry Thomas Project) for picking out the rest of the ingredients. As a result I decided to use a composition of Meukow VS Cognac [young, relatively pungent and lively spirit, 80 proof], Rhum J.M. V.S.O.P. [86 proof], Rum Mount Gay Black Barrel [86 proof] and a pungent, over-proof Lemon Hart Demerara Rum 151 proof as a base of the drink.

Certainly I have to say some words about execution. There are two troublesome points in preparation of English Milk Punch. The first is milk curdling and the second is separating of curdled milk from the drink. At the first sight it looks obvious and easy – you should add milk, milk should curdle and you should set curdled milk apart, but those things look easy only on paper…

The first trouble – with milk – pertains to modern food technology. I don’t now how it is in the USA, but here in Ukraine some sort of long-term storage milk in the carton is… Hmmm, how can I say this? It isn’t milk, actually. It is like an esculent colloidal solution. Proteins, particularly globulins, minerals, vitamins, supplements, additives, ultrapasteurized, normalized, enriched… Hell on wheels, really… I just don’t belive that it is able to curdle 8) So, newly drown whole milk from a local farmer’s market is the only and the best choice.

The second question is separating curdled milk from the drink. Most recommended ways are straining through some layers of cheesecloth [it works but not very well], sifting through a chinois or a jelly-bag [it works not so effectivly, proven!], and filtering with paper [I used filter paper, it worked exceptionally well. Some people say that paper towels can be employed, but I didn’t test it this way]. Actually, if you couldn’t clarify the punch by straining or sifting, you may allow the mix to settle. But, remember, the punch must be pretty clear before serving.

The glass of English Milk Punch | Scienceofdrink.com

The first sip of the English Punch was a truly intriguing… Suspense… In truth, I had absolutely no idea how it could taste. I had never drunk such a thing before. And the English Milk Punch didn’t let me down! It was an absolutely amazing drink. The first sip really surprised me with an utterly distinguished texture and mouthfeel and a very pleasant and balanced palate. Gorgeous!

The English Milk punch has a balanced fruity (pineapple, citrus adorned with spices), sweet-and-sour taste with a powerful solid spirits note, I mean, not spirituous but derived from the liquors used. I think, namely that I can describe it as a lush palate. All components work very well in this drink but in my humble opinion the milk whey makes this drink. It brings exceptional softness, roundness in the palate and mouthfeel. When you drink the English Milk Punch your tongue, gums, all mouth organs feel like they contacting with cold glass, or silk, or some of the smoothest things in the world. It is an amazing feeling! It is worth preparing the drink for the whole day long!

Yet one more thing – some people suggest serving Milk Punch over ice. I see this point – ice keeps the drink cold and visually magnifies it, but, it seems, it has not the best affect on the mouthfeel. It makes punch diluted and this can spoil its unique texture. So, I insist, serve it straight up only!

Classic Cooked Egg Nog

Some days ago I posted about my first sips of a traditional American Christmas drink – Eggnog. In that entry I briefly mentioned that there were two ways to achieve proper texture of eggnog (you should realize, that these two ways give entirely different results). First – maturing – I tried with my first recipe of Uncle Angelo’s Eggnog by Dale DeGroffe (who, actually, as you can see in this video, mixes his famous Uncle Angelo’s Eggnogs in quite original way and without any ripening) and second – cooking I am going to describe here.

Cooked Egg Nog

In a way, it is a philosophical issue – To cook or not to cook [eggnogs]: that is the question! And I see at least two reasons that make people cook their nogs. First – a lot of people are afraid of consuming raw eggs, they are frightened by salmonella, stomach bug and other indigestions. But another reason seems the most important – cooked eggnog is absolutely delicious! Besides, cooking of eggnog allows achieving of a really thick, rich and textural eggnog.

Cooked eggnog consists of the same ingredients as, let’s say, a plain one. Eggs, milk, cream, spices and bourbon, but its preparation is an absolutely culinary journey. I.e. you really need to cook it :) And this may frighten many that are much stronger than mythical salmonella :) What is it you say? You gonna put poached eggs in my nog, are you nuts, bro? 8)

Really, no, there won’t be any poached eggs in your eggnog, bro, if you are attentive enough and cook your eggnog in the right way 8)

Traditional Christmas Cooked Egg Nog in a beaty crystal mug

Classic Cooked Egg Nog (Классический заварной Эгг Ног)

2 big chicken eggs
75 g sugar
250 ml milk
75 ml cream
a pinch of salt
grated nutmeg (to taste)
grated cinnamon (to taste)
some cloves (to taste, optional)
vanilla extract (to taste)
80 ml bourbon
1. In an appropriate sized saucepan pour milk, cream (if you use half and half), add pinch of salt, fresh grounded nutmeg, cinnamon, some whole cloves or another spices and heat the mix till it is steaming (but do not boil! As we all know, boiled milk isn’t that tasty :) Leave warm milk mixture to steep. Before using I prefer to strain the mix through a tea strainer.
2. Separate eggs. Put egg whites in an appropriate airtight container and refrigerate or (if you are going to keep your eggnog relatively long) freeze.
3. Beat yolks in a large bowl until pale than add about three-fourth of the sugar and beat until they become almost white.
4. Pour warm spicy mixture to beaten yolks very slowly. Stir up constantly while you are pouring the milk.
5. Set the mixture on medium (or low) heat and cook it about 10-15 min at 160°F until certain thickening. Don’t let the mix boil! It is very important, because if the mix get boiled, yolks will curdle and the drink will be completely spoiled.
6. If you don’t have a thermometer, you may use a spoon-test for determining of an end point of cooking. Simple dip a metal spoon into the mix and look at – the mix should coat the spoon with a thin smooth film if ready.
7. After cooking let eggnog cool a little and add heavy cream, vanilla extract and bourbon.
8. Chill eggnog in a fridge for several hours or overnight.
9. Right before serving beat egg whites (you should thaw they before, of course, and warm up they to room temperature) until soft peaks with the rest of sugar. Do not overbeat, egg whites shouldn’t go past the “glistening” stage.
10. In an appropriate punch bowl gently incorporate beaten egg whites in chilled eggnog using a whisk until completely smooth, thick and fluffy.
11. Grate some nutmeg on top of the eggnog if you use a punch bowl, otherwise grate nutmeg on top of each drink. Serve in beautiful punch cups or short tumblers.

All ingredients are traditional for eggnog and, consequently, may vary. Notice, if you decided to cook your eggnog because you are afraid of salmonella, I recommend using pasteurized eggs or egg whites for serving. The texture of eggnog is quite affected by how fat your dairy is, but you health is too :) Also you can change the amount of sugar if you prefer a not so sweet eggnog, but I am a real sweet tooth. Traditional species for eggnogs are nutmeg (absolutely essential), cinnamon (strongly recommended), cloves (if you want them, I usually do), cardamom (for the eccentric, I want to try it) and vanilla (strictly recommended too).

Even though I only specify bourbon in the recipe, rum (specifically dark or spiced) and brandy (cognac) or their mixes are also used. This season I made my cooked eggnogs only with bourbon, specifically Wild Turkey 101, and I was totally satisfied with the results.

Fluffy and thick top of real Cooked Egg Nog grated with nutmeg

If you succeed in following these directions, you will obtain an absolutely perfect eggnog – thick, fluffy, rich and smooth. And such eggnog has a distinguished smell and taste. A sweet, spicy, creamy, a little boozy, and ultimately a desert drink. Posh and lush desert drink 8) To be honest, this season, it is cooked eggnog that wins my heart (but, in fact, I did not the eggnog aged for three weeks yet, perhaps, something much more interesting is awaiting me next Christmas season. Well, I will have to just wait, a reminder (on next Thanksgiving) has already been set up! :)

P.S. I forget again and again to mention that eggnog can be non-alcoholic :) For this purpose just omit the liquor as you prepare cooked eggnog (actually, you can add booze directly in your glass later, bro ;)

My first Eggnog and Happy Christmas (Orthodox)!

Well, certainly I know that my American ilk posted their exciting entries about Eggnog all December long and have already forgotten about this drink, but I, as a matter of fact, have an excuse. Eggnog is a traditional Christmas drink, isn’t it? So, let me restate that Eggnog is a drink which some (okay, okay – it is a risqué assumption) Christians usually have on Christmas. But! Look! Not all Christians have Christmas in December! Actually, being Orthodox, we (I mean Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians) have our Christmas Eve on January 6 thus I am just in time 8)

Obviously, Eggnog isn’t our traditional Christmas drink. As a matter of fact here in Ukraine it is almost an unknown drink. Most people even have never heard about eggnog, needless to say they have never tasted it. So, I will be a sort of pioneer of eggnog around here 8)

Eggnog | ScienceOfDrink.com

As I could notice eggnog is quite popular in the USA. Being popular stuff in a market system, eggnog, certainly, became a commercial product a long time ago. Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market takes heed to bring eggnog even to the laziest persons – just take down a carton of the drink from a grocery store shelf and you are in the trend. But also I noticed that commercial stuff, even spiked with a small batch bourbon, isn’t considered a connoisseur’s choice ;) People who understand prefer to make eggnog from scratch. In my experience, this is the best way to enjoy this drink.

Generally, modern homemade eggnog is prepared with raw eggs, some dairy (milk, cream or both), sugar, spices (at least nutmeg) and liquors (bourbon, rum, brandy – all are allowed). In particular, all ingredients may vary – it seems there are millions of eggnog recipes just like for a Martini (or another cocktail superstar). So, it wasn’t easy to pick out a recipe for first tasting, but fortunately I have several authorities which never short-sell me in a wide range of questions about mixed drinks. One of these authorities is Dale DeGroff whose famous recipe of Uncle Angelo’s Eggnog I followed for starters (As a base I used a recipe from his book The Essential Cocktail, if you haven’t got it, you also can find the recipe on Liquor.com).

Egg Nog | ScienceOfDrink.com

Uncle Angelo’s Eggnog (by Dale DeGroff)

1 egg
35 g sugar
150 ml milk
75 ml heavy cream
40 ml bourbon
30 ml spiced rum
10 ml flavorful rum
Separate egg. In a bowl beat together yolk with about two-thirds (or a little more) of sugar until mix becomes pale in color even almost white. Then add slowly milk and cream, stir up the mix with a whisk. Then add liquors and stir again. The mix must be quite homogeneous. In another bowl whip the egg white until soft peaks then add the rest of sugar and whip thoroughly until stiff peaks. Beware of not overbeating the whites, the froth must glisten. Then pour slowly yolk mixture in the whipped egg whites stirring eggnog constantly with a whisk. Stir until entirely smooth. Chill eggnog in a fridge for a couple of hours or serve it in a chilled bowl standing over ice. Serve eggnog in beautiful crystal mugs or punch cups or just in short tumblers. Grate nutmeg on top of the each drink. It seems, this recipe gives 2 serving, so feel free to scale it if you need.

Quite literally such eggnog is pretty similar to flip (diluted with some dairy) but there is something that can make this drink different – certain preparation tricks. As a matter of fact, there are two different ways to make eggnog (not only this eggnog, I mean, all eggnogs) quite a distinctive drink. It’s, lets say, maturing (or ripening) and cooking. So, it will probably be better to mature the eggnog for a minimum of five days, even though this recipe tastes pretty good right after mixing.

As I could have noticed, one of the most important things in eggnog is consistency. It seems, eggnog must have an appropriate texture and mouthfeel. Although it is quite difficult to realize these two key things just by reading posts or watching youtube 8) So, I should engage an expert 8) Fortunately, my English teacher (native American) kindly accepted my invitation to a tasting and gave me some advice.

Several attempts (with this recipe and some others) showed that both tricks affected texture significantly (even though they gave rather different results). They work in different ways, but both of them bring additional thickness, smoothness and roundness to the drink. Actually, cooking gives thicker and fluffy eggnog [it is another story and it will be coming soon], but maturing, as for me, gives a more delicate, roundish, silky texture and quite interesting mouthfeel. Also maturing affects the flavor and palate of eggnog. It seems, maturing of eggnog is a very interesting procedure to explore, and I should give it more attention in the next season (and try to mature it for quite longer periods).

Two Beauty Eggnogs | ScienceOfDrink.com

Well, my first acquaintance came off. Eggnog is a rather pleasant dessert drink with a lovely small kick. It is very delicious. It suits winter holidays wonderfully. It is so reach and heavy (in sugar, fat and ultimately – calories;) and it undoubtedly can replace holiday cake on the table. And, I must admit, eggnog may also suit wonderfully our Christmas tradition. Ukrainian Christmas cuisine is very rich and heavy, [actually it is such all year around ;)] – a roasted goose or a duck, kholodec – traditional dish – a sort of broth jelly (aspic) with a lot of different boiled meat in it (usually chicken (rooster) with hog knuckle and beef), pork stew, fried fish and, of course, traditional homemade roasted hog sausage. A traditional Christmas sweet dish is kutia – a sort of boiled cereal with raisins usually served with uzvar – soft drink from dried apples and sometimes pears. However, traditionally, kutia isn’t a dessert, it opens Christmas table. This heavy meal serve a purpose to break the Christmas Lent and I don’t see any reason to not to include such a rich and heavy concoction like eggnog at the close of that feast 8) Therefore, thanks to globalization, which puts bourbon on our shelves, and World Wide Web, that gives us knowledge (and of course, many thanks to American bloggers who write so passionately about eggnog) now I can make Eggnog my Christmas tradition too.

P.S. Being an eggnog novice I don’t give so much useful information in this post, if you need not emotions but information, I want to recommend some useful pages – Brilliant post on Kitchen Riffs about Eggnog (one of the best on the web, I am positive), and 5 Tips about Eggnog from Derek Brown on Liquor.com.

P.P.S.S. Also I should thank Denise from ChezUs.com for such a stunning idea – photgraphing eggnog with a fir twig 8)

Continue reading “My first Eggnog and Happy Christmas (Orthodox)!”