Milk Punch: Making The World’s Most Difficult Cocktail Recipe At Home

Zach Johnston

Milk punch is forever tied to my personal history here at Uproxx. Two years ago, back when I first started freelancing for the site, I was still pouring drinks at Berlin’s famous Victoria Bar. I’d generally work shifts from 7:30 pm until five or six in the morning. Around two am every night, I’d get a 30-minute break to collect my thoughts after the night’s third rush.

I’d usually be a little sweaty under my white shirt and black tie and dip into the kitchen to down three or four pale ales or porters. It was during these breaks that I’d call my new editor, Steve Bramucci, to feverishly pitch ideas to write about the next day. There was so much I wanted to cover, so many stories I was eager to write, and I knew my day’s slinging cocktails had an expiration date that was fast approaching. For me, Uproxx Life — a site I’d started writing for after Steve emailed me via my commenter profile — was my lifeline to a saner, more sober life.

I still remember one of those first calls. Steve could hear the clinking and clanging in the background and asked if I made his beloved milk punch at Victoria Bar. I told him we didn’t. Incredulously, Steve asked if I knew what it was. Equally incredulously I replied that of course, I did.

From that day on, nearly every time we talked Steve brought up clarified milk punch. He would nudge me to write about it and I, knowing exactly what it takes to make the drink, would always sort of nod along — all the while rolling my eyes as I counted cases of booze I had to carry from the cellar to restock at the end of the night.

You see, Milk Punch — or Clarified Rum Punch or Clarified Milk Punch — is one of the hardest cocktail recipes to execute in any bar chef’s repertoire. There’s just a ton of technique involved. It takes over two days to execute. And, it’s not cheap. In fact, it’s downright outrageously expensive to make. During that first year I worked for Uproxx, Steve wanted nothing more than for me — a bartender at one of the best bars on the planet — to whip up a Milk Punch in my free time and write about it.

Time passed. Steve and I met in person and went from work friends to actual friends. And, finally, the moment for this drink came to the fore. See, I believe you never give the public what they want when they’re asking for it. You give it to them when they least expect it. You wait until you’ve built up a rapport, a foundation if you will so that they’ll appreciate it all the more.