Benjamin Franklin’s Milk Punch, Part 1: Inspiration

A Modern Replication of a Colonial Cocktail in Three Parts

I am not a wizard in the kitchen, not by any means.  My culinary feats don’t range far beyond cold breakfast cereal, grilled cheese, and when I’m lucky, not breaking the yolks when preparing my eggs over-easy.  Beverages, on the other hand, are another story altogether; it seems I have quite the knack for creating my own brandies, infused vodkas, and homemade limoncello.

With this self-taught confidence and determination in hand, it’s no surprise I quickly gathered the ingredients necessary to make my own batch of milk punch using Benjamin Franklin’s own recipe.  I first learned of it after reading Ashlie Hughes’s The Aperitif column at the Huntington-Belle Haven, VA Patch, a local suburban publication where she writes on featured drinks and cocktails.

In her Milk Punch post, Ashlie explains: “The recipe I chose comes from the book Vintage Sprits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh and calls for a combination of rum, brandy, milk, vanilla extract and simple syrup… According to the Massachusetts Historical Society, the boozy drink has roots dating back to the 18th century–Benjamin Franklin even had a recipe he shared with friends.”

As she and I are occasional pen pals and both contributors to Metrocurean, I reached out for a bit more background on her story.  “I have a weird obsession with colonial era beverages so I’m interested in trying Franklin’s recipe,” she told me.  Certainly as good a reason as any.  Yet she hadn’t tried to re-create it herself.  And who can blame her?  The Historical Society calls Franklin’s punch “lemony, with a slightly medicinal kick.”

But I’m not one to scare easily at questionable food or drink descriptions: I’ve subsisted on military rations; sampled cow’s tongue in Moscow; and shared kofta in downtown Baghdad.  So words like medicinal and lemony cause more curiosity than hesitation.  I was determined to create a batch, using Franklin’s own words as my guide.  Thankfully, the Historical Society provided just that – in two ways actually: several high-resolution JPEGs as well as a neatly formatted text in Times New Roman font.

It’s time to turn back the bartending clock.

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Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 5:08 pm  Comments Off on Benjamin Franklin’s Milk Punch, Part 1: Inspiration  
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