This delicious and easy bourbon milk punch is the perfect treat! A great Sunday brunch cocktail or holiday drink for guests, it's sure to warm you from the inside out.
We love this bourbon milk punch as a holiday tradition. It's perfect snuggled up by a working fireplace with a cozy throw blanket!
Where did bourbon milk punch come from
Milk punch has a long history in Louisiana, particularly New Orleans.
That said, its American origins actually lie in the colonial-era cities along the East Coast, back when both milk and brandy were thought to have powerful medicinal properties.
According to Wikipedia, the earliest recorded recipe for milk punch dates to a 1711 cookbook. Now THAT'S an old recipe!
Bourbon milk punch in New Orleans
From my first visit, I've always been a huge fan of New Orleans. Not so much the "Bourbon Street" side of New Orleans, but once you get off that (slightly disgusting) beaten path, there's so much more the city has to offer.
We spent some time there on our Deep South road trip, and the more I see there and the more I learn, the more I love it.
I won't ever live there because I already reside in a city that will probably wash away into the ocean in the future, but I do love to visit. And one thing New Orleans knows is a good cocktail, including bourbon milk punch.
Arnaud’s French 75 in the French Quarter has had milk punch on its menu since the 1930s, and many other restaurants carry it as a staple as well.
What goes in milk punch
All you need to make this simple and delicious bourbon milk punch is bourbon, half and half, some type of sweetener (I used maple sugar, more on that below), vanilla, and a sprinkle of nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice.
The best thing about bourbon milk punch is that it is flexible. You can swap out bourbon for brandy, use darker or lighter rum, add maple syrup in place of simple syrup. Get creative!
How do you make bourbon milk punch
Traditionally, milk punch is exactly what it sounds like: usually whole milk or heavy cream, combined with either brandy or bourbon, rum, some sweetness (usually simple syrup), and a touch of vanilla extract.
Most bartenders will put ground nutmeg or cinnamon on top. If that sounds like a great drink for the holidays, it is. In its classic form, milk punch is like a boozier, less saccharine version of a Christmas eggnog.
So, as you can tell, it's stupid easy. To start, combine your bourbon and half & half (or dairy-free milk, if you're subbing) and whisk them together.
Next just add in your maple sugar or other sweetener and vanilla, and whisk again.
....aaaand you're done.
We even mix them up in a measuring cup and then just serve them from there - so easy! I'm all about less dishes.
If you want to use a cocktail shaker, you can - just know that when you shake milk, it gets foamy, so you're going to get a bunch of bubbles on top. I prefer whisking to keep it from getting foamy.
Can this be made dairy-free
We made ours using full-fat, grass-fed half and half. If you can't tolerate dairy, you could most certainly sub almond milk or another dairy-free milk instead.
I steer clear of dairy most of the time, but when there's a flavor compromise (and let's be real, bourbon isn't Paleo either!) I'll make an exception.
I find that as long as I stick to the grass-fed varieties, and keep it to a minimum, my body handles it ok.
Why did you use maple sugar?
Kurt from Sawyer's Maple Farm in Jackman, Maine sent me a bag of their maple sugar to try out in some recipes, and I used it here.
Their maple sugar is very finely ground, so the texture is perfect, and it dissolves immediately, which is exactly what you want. If you don't have maple sugar on hand, you could definitely sub maple syrup instead.
It will change the flavor just a bit, but if you ask me bourbon and maple go together like peas and carrots, so I think any variation of that would be a good one!
Use of other sweeteners
For sure! Other bourbon milk punch recipes will use a powdered sugar - the reasoning is the same, you want it to dissolve fully in the liquid.
I do not recommend refined sugar, as it will not dissolve, but will sink to the bottom of the glass. Womp womp.
You could try honey (keeping in mind it will give the drink a more honey-forward flavor), maple syrup as mentioned above, or even agave nectar. If you try agave nectar, be careful - a little bit goes a long way! Start off small and add as needed.
(*Side note, I use agave nectar in my Classic Margaritas and they are the best!)
These cocktails are a great holiday treat, and will definitely warm you up from the inside on a cold, rainy day. They're also perfect as a Sunday brunch cocktail, or for the holiday season when entertaining. Serve in a rocks glass over ice cubes.
Other Serving Suggestions
- Serve this as a boozy milkshake. Sub in vanilla ice cream for the half and half and spin the whole thing up in the blender. Now it's a summer drink recipe instead of only for the winter months!
- Add in a touch or orange for a delicious twist on the flavor.
- Next time, sub dark rum for the bourbon and make a rum milk punch.
- 9 ounces bourbon
- 12 ounces of grass fed half & half (or dairy alternative)
- 2 Tablespoons maple sugar (see notes!)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg
- 6 cinnamon sticks
- In a large bowl or measuring cup, combine the bourbon and the half and half.
- Whisk in the maple sugar and vanilla.
- Pour into glasses over crushed ice.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg and a cinnamon stick and serve.
Maple sugar isn't something most people have on hand! If you need to use an alternative sweetener, try powdered sugar. You're looking for something that will dissolve quickly.
You could also use a liquid sweetener, such as maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar - just be sure to add a bit at a time and taste as you go so as not to overdo it!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 6 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 198Saturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 24mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 1g
Looking for other holiday cocktails? Try my Snowblower Cocktail for the perfect winter drink!
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