The Milk Punch is a old cocktail, with roots dating back to the late-1600s. Comprised of a spirit, milk, sugar and usually vanilla, the drink sprang to life in England, traveled to Ireland and eventually came stateside. The current iteration is often associated with New Orleans, as the Brandy Milk Punch has been a staple of the city’s brunch culture, served at Brennan’s since the 1940s.
Over the years, variations have sprung up, including simple and self-explanatory twists like the Bourbon Milk Punch as well as more versions featuring tequila and other spirits. Bartenders have also gotten creative by clarifying the milk for perfectly clear drinks, or by making dairy-free versions featuring milk alternatives. The Espresso Milk Punch sets itself apart by featuring bourbon, coffee liqueur, chicory liqueur, heavy cream and a ground espresso garnish.
The recipe comes from Cavan in New Orleans. Though it’s now closed, the restaurant served this coffee-flecked spin on the classic brunch cocktail to weekend crowds looking for a tasty and caffeinated start to their days. It begin with a slug of 100-proof bourbon, which is straightforward enough. But then the ingredients take a unique turn.
Varnelli Caffe Mokka is an Italian espresso liqueur that is aged for at least six months and has aromas and flavors of coffee, cocoa, vanilla, spices, tobacco, honey and caramel. Hoodoo chicory liqueur adds an extra New Orleans flourish. It’s made with roasted chicory root and Louisiana cane sugar and is an homage to the classic chicory coffee, a popular drink in New Orleans (and elsewhere) that’s made with nutty chicory root instead of coffee beans.
You can recreate the Espresso Milk Punch at home by adding the alcoholic ingredients to a rocks glass with ice, topping with the cream and then garnishing with freshly ground espresso. Make one in the morning, after dinner to extend your night, or any time you want to channel New Orleans through a caffeinated, creamy cocktail. Once you’ve mastered this recipe, try your hand at more complex variations like the Paloma Milk Punch made with tequila and coconut milk.
Add the bourbon, Caffe Moka and chicory liqueur into a rocks glass filled with ice and stir briefly to combine.
Top with the heavy cream to fill the glass.
Stir once, and sprinkle with freshly ground espresso to garnish.