Updated February 13, 2015
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NOLA boasts an enviable MVP list of regional cocktails: The Sazerac, Vieux Carré and Ramos Gin Fizz are some of the city’s historical heavy-hitters. But the drink that best embodies Mardi Gras’ season of masked revelry? The unassuming, yet charming glass of Milk Punch.

Traditionally made with brandy (and more recently, bourbon), New Orleans–style Milk Punch wears a mask of its own: It’s quietly potent, sneaking up on drinkers after a few easy-going glasses. Milk punch is similar to an eggless Eggnog: All ivory creaminess with powdered sugar and vanilla for sweetness, a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg and a subtle, lurking booziness. Well-suited to brunch, milk punch will be soothing the hangovers of many a Mardi Gras merrymaker in the coming weeks. But with these handy variations, you can play like its Mardi Gras wherever you may be.

1. Midnight Milk Punch


Maple syrup and sticky caramel are unconventional (yet very welcome) cupmates in this brandy-based punch. They enhance the doubly rich foundation of heavy cream and whole milk with dark, developed flavor and guarantee that this late-night punch is a pleaser warm or cold. Get the recipe.

2. Almond Lavender Bourbon Milk Punch


The lactose-challenged shouldn’t have to miss out on milk punch. Homemade almond milk laced with vanilla invites everyone to join the punch party when paired with a lightly floral lavender syrup and a bold dose of bourbon. Get the recipe.

3. California Milk Punch



This West Coast riff was supposedly adapted from Jerry Thomas’ recipe by a San Francisco bartender with easy access to pisco. Paired with Jamaican rum, the pisco adds a crisp fruitiness and is bombarded with all manner of flavor partners before its final appearance as punch. First, the pisco is infused with citrus and spices and aged for a couple days before meeting with green tea syrup and whole milk. Then comes another aging period. The curdled milk is strained out to reveal a silky punch that packs a whole lotta wollop in a very small serving. Get the recipe.

4. Coffee Milk Punch


If you’ve ever tried coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde, you’re familiar with the Big Easy’s fondness for chicory. Inspired by Bourbon Street, this punch blends that famous chicory coffee with whole milk, half-and-half, bourbon and ice to create the equivalent of a caffeinated, boozed-up milkshake. Get the recipe.

5. Cereal Milk Punch


How to improve on good old-fashioned, wholesome milk? Infuse it with your favorite cereal. Bearing the familiar nuttiness of toasted corn flakes, this cereal milk–laced punch channels the essential childhood breakfast—but spikes it adult-like with bourbon. Brown sugar adds depth and sweetness, and a dusting of nutmeg nods at the classic. Get the recipe.