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Milk Punch Revisited

August 4, 2017

One way you know something is truly great, is if you can’t stop thinking about it days after the fact.

That Fire Feast at Pitney Meadow Community Farm earlier this week wasn’t all just about local food, prepared by internationally renowned chefs. It was also about crafting some killer cocktails to go along with the dishes.

And of all the great cocktails, and there were many great cocktails, one stood out in my mind above all others. But even before you learn how it’s made, this was a totally badass drink to kick off a summer night of culinary adventure.

Eamon Rockey was there mixing up a summer seasonal version of milk punch using some local spirits. DocSconz, who brought all of this culinary talent, sat down with Eamon in 2014 soon after falling in love with this drink at Betony in NYC. In the link post above, there is even a thirty minute video where you can see all the labor and thought that goes into making a batch of milk punch.

I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version.

Heat milk.
Mix in citrus to curdle the hot milk.
Combine curdled citrus milk with other flavorful liquids.
Strain.
Strain.
Strain.
Strain.
Strain.
Strain.

When you are done, the resulting liquid is entirely clear, if a little yellow from the whey. It’s not hard work, per se, but it takes a long long time. And it helps if you have a fine mesh bag and a cold place to hang it while it does its thing. Because milk punch loves to ferment, and that would make it cloudy.

While I hear fermented milk punch is delicious, it’s counter productive for these brilliantly clear cocktails.

Years ago, when milk punch was having a moment, I tried my hand at a different version of the stuff. And while in the end I produced a clear product, it was such a pain in the ass, I vowed never to do it again.

Now, I’m reconsidering. Largely on the strength of the drink I had earlier this week.

The version of Eamon’s milk punch offered as the very first cocktail of Fire Feast was flavored with watermelon and powered by Upstate Distilling Co’s unaged whiskey.

This is where I suspect I might lose people. But hang in there. Because I know it may sound totally bizarre. Especially since I’m keenly aware how most people feel about unaged whiskey. Does it help to think of the whiskey as a corn based spirit?

What’s more summery than corn and watermelon. I’m serious. Intellectually, it’s very clever.

In the mouth, it was delicious, with great balance and remarkable complexity, while never losing its ability to refresh. Man. That was a great drink, and a great way to kick off a night full of culinary adventure.

Plus, the night ended on corn too, in the form of that corn gelato. It’s possible that the symmetry there was completely accidental. But really it wasn’t. Because when you put together a feast that is all about local and seasonal ingredients, it’s no accident when certain ingredients weave themselves in and out of the meal.

Hopefully, this was just as inspiring to some of the local chefs who participated in this event as it was for me. Maybe we’ll get to see more things like this come through the area, at Pitney Meadows Community Farm, and beyond.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Matthew permalink
    August 4, 2017 11:55 am

    The milk punch was good – but the Spruce Sour was AMAZING!!!

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