Mom’s Milk Punch, and Other Secrets to Surviving the Holidays

Bourbon Milk Punch


Mom's Milk Punch is the recipe to surviving Christmas with your family. Every family has their holiday traditions.  These time-honored rituals bring us together year-after-year, in spite of time and distance and, well, the annoying little “ticks” that only loved ones can get away with.  You know what I’m talking about … I can’t speak to what these “ticks” are for your family, but in mine they involve some combination of Mom and my brother Jack bickering about how to cook the tenderloin, my husband Bruce fussing at the dogs for acting like dogs, Uncle Buddy wearing his Sponge Bob pajama pants to see the Trail of Lights, and me pouting because I was given—yet again—flannel pajamas and camping gear.  Really?  Is perfume or a pair of earrings completely out of the question?

In spite of the bickering, fussing, pajama wearing, and misguided gifting, we have one tradition that always brings us together:  Mom’s Milk Punch and Trading Places

Christmas Eve Traditions 

Every Christmas Eve, we make Milk Punch and watch the Eddie Murphy / Dan Aykroyd classic Christmas film, “Trading Places”.  Everything I know about the Stock Market I learned from this movie. I also learned that Cigars and Whiskey are great techniques to coax a convict into your Bentley, that Santa loves smoked salmon, Karate men bruise on the inside, and that she “stepped on the ball”.  But I digress.

Why Milk Punch?

Why Milk Punch? Because it is as delicious as - but lighter than -Egg Nog.  This means you can drink more of it.  While I have many memories of us laughing over glasses of Milk Punch watching Trading Places, one memory stands out above all.  This was Christmas 2013 – the year I moved to San Antonio.  Instead of being six blocks away from Hampton Road, I was now over 60 miles away and mom missed me.  She arrived at my loft fully loaded with homemade simple syrup, expensive Mexican vanilla, organic half & half, and 3 bottles of bourbon.  Two of the bottles were intended as gifts for Bruce and Jack.  The third bottle was allocated to Milk Punch.  Not one bottle survived the night. 


Mom dropped the first bottle (Makers Mark) while mixing the first round of cocktails.  Sorry Bruce, there went your Christmas present!  Later, I dropped the second bottle (Elijah Craig Small Batch) while mixing a subsequent round.  Sorry, Jack, I’m sure Gaucho (my dog) enjoyed the bourbon as much as you would have.  Down to the final bottle, Bruce took charge. 

About half way through bottle number three, gravity got the best of it  (Garrison Bros Small Batch).  Crack! Splash! Lick! Gaucho was in heaven.  We could barely contain our laughter, and the concrete floor in my flat remained “sticky” until the day I moved out.  Since then, Jack has been our primary bartender.  We haven’t lost a single bottle of bourbon since.  We retell that story every year while laughing our way through Trading Places. 

This tradition traces back to the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, Louisiana.  My grandparents celebrated their first honeymoon there (they had three), and we’ve ventured back  year after year for as long as I can remember to enjoy the Milk Punch.  How it became a staple at Christmastime is a mystery to me, but a staple it is.  Mom prefers Bourbon over Brandy or Cognac, so that is how we enjoy it. 

Mom's Milk Punch Recipe

Mom’s Milk Punch (inspired by the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone):

  • 2 oz Bourbon (or Cognac or Brandy)
  • ¼ oz Simple Syrup
  • ¼ oz Mexican Vanilla
  • 1 ½ oz Half & Half
  • Fresh Ground Nutmeg

Fill glass with crushed ice.  Pour liquor, simple syrup, vanilla, and half & half over crushed ice.  Shake vigorously to froth.  Top with ground nutmeg to taste, turn on Trading Places,  sit back, and enjoy.

How to Serve Mom's Milk Punch

I like to serve it in a highball (here are some great vintage options) with a cocktail stick (her are some beauties from Joanna Buchanan). And, if your favorite guy loves Bourbon as much as mine does, check out the Bourbon Cousins – they design incredible Bourbon-themed gifts that are perfect for giving.  Shop all of our favorites: here,

Bourbon Lovers Gift Guide

Merry Christmas, and Drink Responsibly! All the best, 

Lisa and Bruce

Bruce & Lisa in New Orleans, 12/2018


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