I first discovered the wonderful ritual that is brunch during my college years in New Orleans. Leisurely late morning meals (early afternoon, if we’re being honest) with friends. Brunches served with the best sweet and savory dishes that always made you think, “Why do they only have this on their brunch menu?!” When it comes to food, New Orleans will never let you down. And it sure won’t disappoint when it comes to having a cocktail.
Enter: cocktails at brunch. More specifically, New Orleans milk punch. I am a Bloody Mary lover through and through, but I was quickly sold on this milky sweet concoction. Traditionally, milk punch is made with either brandy or bourbon, milk or cream, simple syrup, vanilla extract, and a dusting of nutmeg. Since having left New Orleans, it is rare that I see milk punch on a cocktail menu. And while New Orleans is currently in the midst of Carnival season, my heart, as it is every year at this time, is wishing it was taking part in the festivities.
Since I’m already checking the Times Picayune online for parade updates (despite being hundreds of miles away) and living vicariously through New Orleans’ friends Facebook and Instagram photos of kingcakes and floats and Mardi Gras balls, I finally decided that at the very least I could make myself a milk punch, and a dairy-free, refined sugar-free one at that.
By swapping unsweetened almond milk for cream and making a simple syrup from sucanat, the outcome is just as satisfying as the original. The sucanat simple syrup adds a slight hint of molasses to the mix, giving the drink a darker hue than traditional milk punches.
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 2 ounces unsweetened almond milk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce refined sugar free simple syrup
- 1 cup sucanat
- 1 cup water
- ground nutmeg for sprinkling
- To make unrefined simple syrup, place 1 cup water and 1 cup sucanat in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally until all sucanat is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- In a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice, add bourbon, almond milk, vanilla extract, and simple syrup. Shake for 20 to 30 second. Strain over a glass filled with ice. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Keep extra sucanat simple syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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