Appearances can be deceiving. Take, for example, Clarified Milk Punch, an old English preparation that dates back nearly three centuries. You’d never guess at first glance that milk is a main ingredient in the punch, but thanks to a little liquid alchemy—based upon acid’s curdling effects when mixed with dairy—this milk-rich punch can be clear as day. At Faith & Flower in downtown Los Angeles, bar manager Michael Lay has updated the traditional formula with modern-day drinkers in mind. Combining a host of spirits and spices with a grassy green tea, Lay lets his mixture meld before its final strain. The result? A silken, spirited punch that withstands the test of time.
20 coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 lb. granulated sugar
8 oz. mild Jamaican rum
8 oz. robust, overproof Jamaican rum (such as Smith & Cross)
8 oz. amber Puerto Rican rum
6 oz. bourbon
8 oz. Cognac
6 oz. Batavia arrack
4 oz. absinthe
1 oz. Peychaud’s bitters
8 oz. brewed sencha green tea
14 oz. boiling water
40 oz. whole milk
2 large, airtight containers
Mortar and pestle
1. Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove the zest from 8 lemons, taking care to avoid the white pith. Add the lemon zest to a large airtight container.
2. Peel and core the pineapple and cut into large chunks, and add them to the lemon peels.
3. Coarsely grind the spices with a mortar and pestle. Add the spices to the container, along with the sugar and the juice of 6 lemons. Muddle the mixture.
4. Pour in the brewed green tea as well as the spirits and bitters and stir to combine. Add boiling water and immediately cover so the liquid doesn’t evaporate. Let sit overnight, then strain the mixture into a clean container.
5. Bring the milk to a boil. Add the boiling milk and the juice of the remaining 2 lemons to the strained mixture—the milk will curdle and the solids will coagulate.
6. Strain the liquid a little at a time through a fine chinois lined with cheesecloth, replacing the cheesecloth if it becomes too thickly layered with milk solids. Pour into a clean container, cover and refrigerate overnight to give the remaining milk solids time to settle. Ladle the clarified punch into a clean container, taking care not to disturb the solids at the bottom. Strain again, if desired.
TIP: If the spirits list seems overwhelming, consider consolidating by using just one aged rum, instead of three.