Even though much buzzed-about bartender Michael Lay has been gone from Faith & Flower since earlier this year, moving on to Chef Ray Garcia’s Broken Spanish, his English Milk Punch has managed to stick around on the F&F menu. Credit for its staying power belongs to cult-like popularity bolstered by being named Esquire’s Cocktail of the 2014. And since it would be insane to remove the cocktail from the menu, Edwin Osegueda, who took over the program in January, is instead offering his own spicier variation, the Spanish Milk Punch, which debuted on the new fall menu last month.
“I thought it was appropriate to reflect my style in my menu and let people know that I’m here as well and that I wanted to make something that represented me and who I am and spirits that I enjoy,” he says. Osegueda hails from Caña Rum Bar, having been trained by bartenders Danielle Crouch and Allan Katz. He admits that a lot of his new cocktails at Faith & Flower reflect what he’s learned at Caña; even Caña’s beloved Zombie variation 28 Days Later makes an appearance.
Osegueda’s version of the Milk Punch, which took four months to create, is a boozy mix of his favorite spirits: mezcal, cachaca, and tequila. The result is a more aggressive milk punch, with more bite, spicier notes, and a ton of heat thanks to its higher ABV. “The mezcal is very vegetal compared to rum. You can taste the spirits more. It’s not as sweet, it’s not as warm. It’s a little crisper, a little cleaner,” he explains.
Why use so many different spirits—six, to be exact? It creates a unique complexity where one can’t pinpoint what they’re drinking. Suffice it to say that drinking one Spanish Milk Punch is equivalent to drinking a cocktail and a half.
If you would like to wow holiday guests, here’s Osegueda’s recipe. It’s a three-day project so plan ahead. Keep in mind that this makes 60 servings (the restaurant does this amount times eight every week). Osegueda says he’d love to shake the hand of anyone who endeavors to take on this punch recipe.
The Spanish Milk Punch
by Edwin Osegueda, Faith & Flower
6 parts Avion Silver
4 parts La Nina del Mezcal Primario
4 parts Avua Prata Cachaca
1 part Pernod Absinthe
1 part Del Maguey Minero
1 part Neisson Blanc
Peels of 10 oranges
3 quarts sugar
15 anise stars
10 thyme sprigs
8 cinnamon sticks
42 ounces fresh lime juice
5 quarts English breakfast black tea
42 ounces whole milk
In a large, clear receptacle, throw in diced pineapples and orange peels. Add the sugar and begin muddling that batch. After the consistency is that of baby food, add the thyme, cinnamon and anise stars. Lastly, pour in the fresh lemon juice, bottles of alcohol, and black tea.
Let this sit over night (24 hours) to allow a thorough infusion.
Strain the batch through a fine strainer. The goal is to get rid of all of the pulp from the pineapple. After everything is strained out, throw out the solids (or eat the booze-infused pineapple, yumm).
Now you have a cloudy mix that needs clarification! This is the tricky part. You must ensure that the batch is as cold as possible (not frozen, though) so the curdling process works well. Add boiling hot whole milk to the batch and immediately, you’ll see the lactic acids react and solidify. With a julep strainer, scoop out the thick chunks floating on top of the batch. After you’ve scooped out the bigger solids, strain the whole thing through a fine strainer.
The end result should be a cloudy solution. The residual milk that made it past the fine strainer should eventually settle to the bottom of the batch, leaving behind the clear punch. Let this sit for 24 hours.
Now, you’ve let your cloudy punch sit for 24 hours but it shouldn’t be cloudy anymore. The residual milk that was floating around should have settled and collected all the way at the bottom of the receptacle.
Now, with the ever most care, you must pour the punch into another receptacle. You need to do this without rattling the punch at all. If you rattle the punch, you’ll redistribute the milky residue and you’ll ruin the whole batch. Carefully, tilt your receptacle and pour the clear product into another. Serve in a punch bowl garnished with orange slices and ladle into ice-filled rocks glasses.