Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Bourbon Cocktails

Bourbon Milk Punch

bourbon milk punch with frothy head and freshly grated nutmeg on top / Tim Nusog

New Orleans is known for a handful of classic drinks, including the Sazerac and Vieux Carré. But when the prior night’s extracurricular activities require a soothing pick-me-up, countless inhabitants of and visitors to the Crescent City opt for the fortifying charms of Milk Punch.

The Milk Punch is an old drink. Printed recipes date its invention to at least the 1600s, well before its association with New Orleans. But French Quarter establishments like Brennan’s and Arnaud’s French 75 Bar deserve credit for perfecting the version as it’s known today. The drink can be made with a variety of spirits, from French brandy (a classic choice) to all-American bourbon, as seen in this recipe from Sarah Baird, author of “New Orleans Cocktails.”

The Bourbon Milk Punch combines its namesake spirit with whole milk, simple syrup and vanilla extract. Freshly grated nutmeg dusts the top of the drink, providing a sprinkling of warm aromatics with each sip. Think of the cocktail like Eggnog without the egg. It’s meant to be rich and creamy, so whole milk is the way to go here. Low-fat milk and certainly skim milk will produce a thinner, less satisfying drink, so it’s best to leave those for cereal.

The Bourbon Milk Punch may be called on most often during brunch, but its comforting sensibilities also make it a great nightcap. Therein lies its super power: the ability to kickstart your day or gently bring it to a close.


  • 2 ounces bourbon

  • 3 ounces whole milk

  • 1 ounce simple syrup

  • 2 dashes vanilla extract

  • Garnish: nutmeg, freshly grated


  1. Add bourbon, whole milk, simple syrup and vanilla extract into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a rocks glass, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.