Clarified Milk Punch

Milk Punches have captivated American drinkers since the early 17th century. From the selection of spirits to the methodology, this classic style of drink leaves plenty of room to play. 

At The National in Athens, Georgia, Bar Manager Michael Clancy gives a nod to the Mediterranean with his Clarified Milk Punch recipe. Aromatic cardamom and coriander accent sweet Cachaça, the fermented sugarcane juice he uses in place of more traditional rum. 

In contrast to the quintessential Bourbon Milk Punch, a Clarified Milk Punch boasts an iridescent transparency that leaves the drink's creamy texture and subtle richness completely unexpected. The magic lies in the clarification process. Cool acid literally breaks the warm milk, separating out the solids to leave behind crystal clear whey that enriches the final concoction. You'll have to taste it to believe it. 

3 tsp. ground cardamom

2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. coriander seeds

6 oranges

1/3 cup Ceylon tea

1 ½ cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar

3 cups hot water

1 liter Leblon Cachaça

1 liter Ansac Cognac

0.75 liters orange juice

1.5 liters whole milk

2 ½ cups lemon juice


Peel and juice the oranges. Reserve the orange juice for the next day. Mix together the orange peels, cardamom, coriander, tea and sugar with the hot water until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool overnight.

On the next day, strain the cooled mixture. Add cachaça, cognac and orange juice to make the base for the punch.

In a pot on the stove, bring the milk slowly to a boil. Remove from heat and break the milk by pouring in chilled lemon juice. Immediately add the broken milk to the base and stir to combine. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth to separate the milk solids from the whey. Strain several times until clear.

To serve, pour 5 oz. of the finished Clarified Milk Punch over ice and garnish with a blood orange wheel if desired. The flavor of the punch will only improve as it keeps in the refrigerator for up to two months. Some say it can even remain shelf stable at cellar temperatures for years.

Recipe by Michael Clancy

Photographs by Danielle Hulsey

Styling by Candice Beaty