You Don’t Need a Hangover to Enjoy a Brandy Milk Punch

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On a sunny Sunday, the light streams in through the windows at Rye restaurant in Williamsburg. You might be sitting there, feeling a little rough around the edges from the night before (and perhaps the night before that), trying to burrow into the distressed-leather banquette, desperately wishing someone would turn down the friggin’ sun already.

It’s OK, honey. Put on your sunglasses like the rock star you thought you were last night, and order a Brandy Milk Punch. But don’t bother looking on the cocktail menu—it’s not there. Instead, to find this decadent bit of hangover relief, skip on over to the dessert offerings. Yes, it’s just that good. There’s good reason Brandy Milk Punch is a particular seller at Sunday brunch.

Loosely based on chef/owner Cal Elliott’s favorite dessert, a Brandy Alexander pie, the Brandy Milk Punch is made with Ronnybrook whole milk, Jacques Cardin brandy and house-made Demerara syrup. The final touch is the glass rim: moistened with an orange slice and dipped in cocoa nibs from Brooklyn bean boys, the Mast Brothers.

After a vigorous, even violent, shaking with ice (“You can tell when the bartender’s making a Brandy Milk Punch, because he’s working it!”), the cocktail is strained into a glass and transformed into a light, fluffy concoction. “You see it, and it looks like it’s going to be thick,” Van Heel warns, “but it’s not.” Instead, the texture runs to frothy and feather-light—you know, like the pillows on the bed you wish you still occupied at this very moment.

“It’s like this really light, milky cloud,” Van Heel describes. That’s due in part to the air introduced during the shaking, and in part to the upstate milk, which adds an ethereal richness. If you can summon the strength, pull yourself up off the banquette and take a seat at the 21-foot mahogany bar. “Because when the bartender’s making Brandy Milk Punch,” Van Heel says, “everyone at the bar gets a little extra.”

Brandy Milk Punch
From Casey Van Heel, Rye Restaurant
Serves one

1 orange slice, to rim the glass
2 tablespoons Mast Brothers cocoa nibs, crushed
2 ounces Jacques Cardin brandy
3/4 ounce demerara sugar simple syrup
5 ounces Ronnybrook whole milk

Moisten the edge of a Highball glass by running the orange slice around the glass rim. Gently roll the edge of the glass in the cocoa nibs to coat.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the brandy, simple syrup, milk and ice. Shake vigorously, and strain into prepared glass.

Photo credit:  Shannon Sturgis.

Emily Farr

Emily’s work explores the role of fishers’ knowledge in fisheries management. She has milked goats in Vermont, worked on seaweed and shellfish aquaculture in Connecticut, and holds a Master’s from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy.

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