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Rum-hibiscus milk punch

January 28, 2009

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Serves about 15

Among the oddities of the Colonial tavern that adventurous bartenders are taking pains to revive is milk punch. This soothing beverage involves deliberately curdling milk by heating it and combining it with brandy and/or rum and citrus juice, in addition to sugar and spices. The curds are strained, and the resulting liquid is clear but rich-tasting: think fizzless cream soda. At the bar Drink (348 Congress Street, Boston), manager John Gertsen makes several versions, including this one, which is served cold and straight. Start this two days in advance. LAUREN CLARK

SIMPLE SYRUP

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1. In a clear container or jar, combine the sugar and water.

2. Cover and shake the mixture until the sugar dissolves.

PUNCH

1 bottle (750 ml.) white rum
Pared rind of 1 orange
Pared rind of 2 lemons
1tablespoon dried hibiscus leaves (available at Latin American and Caribbean stores)
2 cups simple syrup
1 cup fresh lime juice
2cups fresh whole milk (preferably unpasteurized)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Have on hand a 1-gallon container and 2 pitchers (1 should be glass).

2. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, combine the rum and orange and lemon rinds. Cover tightly and set aside to infuse for 48 hours. Add hibiscus and infuse for 2 hours more.

3. Strain the rum mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a 1-gallon container. Add the simple syrup and stir well. Stir in the lime juice.

4. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk to 180 degrees. Pour the hot milk into the rum mixture. Add the cinnamon and clove. Stir and set aside for 30 minutes or until the mixture curdles.

5. Set a fine-meshed strainer over a pitcher (glass isn't necessary right now). Pour the milk mixture through the strainer. When the flow of liquid has slowed to a drip, place strainer into a glass pitcher and slowly pour contents of first pitcher into the strainer. (Do not remove curd after first straining; it forms a natural filter.) Rate of flow from strainer should be slow and steady, and resulting liquid should be clear.

6. Store punch in a corked bottle or covered container and refrigerate for up to 8 weeks. Serve cold in small, stemmed glasses, such as sherry glasses. Adapted from Drink