Whiskey and milk might seem like an unusual combination, but if you've ever enjoyed eggnog at Christmastime, you'll get how tasty this combo can be. The creamy milk blends beautifully with the complex flavor of whiskey, becoming a drink that fits the bill both as a party swig and a nice digestif. What might surprise you, though, is that the idea of mixing whiskey with milk goes way back in time!
A "milk punch" is what you'd call any drink that's made by mixing dairy milk with a spirit (such as whiskey). The earliest recorded mention of this concoction harkens back to 1688 when William Sacheverell mentioned in his travel dissertation, "An Account of the Isle of Man," how he had "a bowl of milk-punch" after supper, which "proved a good medicine against the fleas." In those days, milk punch was primarily consumed as a medicinal elixir, rather than the leisurely drink it is known as today.
It wasn't until 1711 that a solid recipe for a brandy milk punch was written down in a cookbook by a housewife named Mary Rockett. This drink is a full-blown cocktail (possibly one of the oldest around) incorporating sugar and lemon zest-infused brandy, milk scalded on a stovetop until it slightly curdles, and lemon juice. After infusing the punch with grated nutmeg for a few hours, it was carefully strained through cheesecloth to remove milk solids and lemon zest before serving. That's quite a fancy drink by 18th-century standards!
For A Time, Clarified Milk And Whiskey Was A (Literal) Royal Drink
Speaking of fancy, even though it's not all that complicated of a drink today, back then, whiskey-imbued milk was literally a drink for royalty and high society. There were reports that, in 1838, Queen Victoria liked the milk punch produced by a gentleman named Nathaniel Whisson so much that she gave his company a royal warrant with a rather lofty title: "Purveyors of milk punch to Her Majesty." However, the type that was enjoyed by Queen Victoria (and other historical figures like Charles Dickens and Benjamin Franklin) wouldn't look like what you'd imagine of a drink called milk punch.
Called "clarified milk punch," this mixture of milk and whiskey was clear in color! To make it, milk is curdled using an acid like lemon juice or brewed black tea. Then, the solid milk bits are filtered out, leaving a see-through liquid. Add your favorite whiskey, maybe a little citrus zest for flavor, and you'll have a tasty drink in hand.
Since most of the milk solids are removed during the process, it tastes nothing like dairy milk. Instead, you'd get a slight sweetness with hints of the acid used for curdling and, of course, the kick of the liquor. This mix makes for a seriously tasty and smooth drink — so much so that, as an 1873 Brooklyn Eagle article put it, it's "the surest thing in the world to get drunk on," via Atlas Obscura.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.