The brunch cocktail category needs a serious revision. Mimosas are lame, boring and watery. Bloody Marys can be either transcendent or horrible. Consider, then, the milk punch, eggnog’s slimmer, trimmer and more palatable cousin. Milk and brandy sounds like something your grandmother would drink, but hear us out — the milk punch is a pleasantly old-timey, autumnal beverage, best enjoyed somewhere indoors with flickering candlelight, or in front of a vast, roaring fire. There’s been a bit of a milk punch revival in Brooklyn these days, headed up by Tooker Alley, who makes a killer version. If the words “milk” and “punch” are making you slightly ill, we understand. Dairy and alcohol together seems like a dangerous recipe for illness, but hear us out! Milk punch is actually a really, really good thing.
First, a little history — milk punch is traditionally a Southern thing, specifically New Orleans, and is served best cold and freshly made. The ingredients are simple: bourbon, a dash of rum, some milk, some vanilla, and sprinkle of nutmeg which all add up to a cold, creamy concoction that goes best with brunch, or in any situation where you’d have eggnog. It’s cozy, it’s spicy, and it’s a nice alternative to a hot toddy. You can make one at home, if you want, with this recipe. Or, if you’re intrigued, repulsed, or a little bit of both, stop by any one of these Brooklyn spots and try it out for yourself.
Tooker Alley – 793 Washington Avenue
Crown Heights’ very own cocktail bar has a lot of really fantastic things on the menu, but its Winter Milk Punch, infused with Oregon chai, is sweet without being cloying.
Forrest Point – 970 Flushing Avenue
This brand new spot in Bushwick boasts an impressive cocktail list, but what stands out is the two milk punch options — a rarity in these parts. Take your pick from the Red Hook, which features rye, brandy, stone fruit and chai, or the Widow Jane, with strong bourbon, pineapple and Lapsang Souchong tea, for added smokiness and depth. Take your drink of choice and sit outside on their beautiful secret garden patio, before the icy fingers of winter get us all.
Rye – 247 South 1st Street
Rye’s brunch game is strong, their waiters are nattily-dressed and their cocktail list boasts booze-forward drinks that focus on punched-up classics. Their milk punch is off-menu, but if you order one, you’ll be treated to a light, airy thing that’s like ice-cream, but airy.
Fort Defiance – 369 Van Brunt Street
This lovely restaurant/bar in downtown Red Hook does a delicious brunch, a wonderful dinner and has lovely picture windows that let in lots of sun — always important. Their brunch cocktail menu has two classic New Orleans drinks on it — the Ramos Gin Fizz and an excellent bourbon milk punch that goes just as well with eggs Benedict as it does with their excellent chicken liver pate on toast.