“I have a very strong memory of a Mardi Gras morning at someone’s house on St. Charles Avenue—finding a jug of milk punch in the refrigerator and loving it,” says St. John Frizell, co-owner of the Brooklyn restaurant Fort Defiance. “It came to symbolize that sort of home hospitality,” he says. So when he opened up Fort Defiance in 2009, he decided to incorporate the drink into his cocktail menu. "I wanted it to be really simple," he said. To lighten it up from that original version, Frizell cut back on the vanilla, mixed the milk with Old Forester Classic (an 86 proof rather than full-proof bourbon) and opted to shake the drink to the point of frothiness.
“The real key is the quality of the milk,” he adds. “We use Battenkill Valley milk, which costs more than the regular stuff you would get at the supermarket, but it’s so creamy and delicious, and we go through enough of it that it’s always fresh.”
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Frizell also stresses the difference between his breed of milk punch and the historic version that has made its reappearance on the cocktail scene. “Among the mixology set now, a milk punch is something completely different from what we serve,” he says. “They make these clarified, clear milk punches, which are great—but ours is very rooted in New Orleans, and the full dairy effect is the whole point.”