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An old technique, milk punch is easier than it looks to prepare, and always impressive. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

“Milk punch is a recent thing for me, and the inspiration, as all my good inspirations do, happened when dining alone at Gramercy Tavern — my true north, my Mecca!” laughs Chimene Macnaughton, the brainy, convivial beverage director for Honest Man Hospitality. “They had a gin cocktail that was a milk punch on their menu. I tasted it and it was just amazing. Revelatory! It did what milk punches do — it softens the ingredients, integrates them and knits them together in this way other cocktails can’t achieve.” 

Honest Man Group beverage director Chimene Macnaughton mixes up a Gramercy Worship Milk Punch. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

But while making milk punches is a recent obsession for Macnaughton, their existence, she says, is no tippling trick. The first time a recipe for one appeared in print was 1711, according to the Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails. Its purpose was twofold: aesthetically, to “clarify” or make any unwanted cloudiness turn crystal clear, and to stabilize a drink’s ingredients for the long term in the days before refrigeration. 

“My fascination with them probably has something to do with the fact that my entire family all have engineer minds — my brother is a rocket scientist!” she laughs. “The alchemy and potion vibe are something that I’m super into.”

Macnaughton has created a different milk punch cocktail for the constellation of restaurants in Honest Man’s East End universe: the Gramercy Worship for Nick & Toni’s, and three other individual signature drinks for Rowdy Hall, Coche Comedor and Townline BBQ. Each will be sold by the glass at their respective establishments. Starting this fall, Honest Man will also sell as four-ounce to-go bottled cocktails priced at $20 apiece or $80 for all four.

But you can — and should! — try your hand at making some at home. A chinoise (fine metal strainer), nut bag or some cheesecloth along with some high-fat whole milk are the easy-peasy secret ingredients.

“These are made for dinner parties,” says Macnaughton. “Everyone will think you slaved and all you do is stir it up, pour it over ice and there you go!” 

Gramercy Worship Milk Punch by Chimene Macnaughton

Prep Time 30 minutes


  • 10 oz Suntory Roku Japanese gin
  • 7 1/2 oz Eve’s Cidery NY Apple Cider
  • 2 1/2 oz Busnel Calvados
  • 2 1/2 oz rich simple syrup
  • 2 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 6 oz Ronnybrook Creamline whole milk (freshest high-fat milk is a must — many local supermarkets carry it) 
  • Chartreuse Végétal, to coat the glass


To make the clarified milk punch

  • Pour milk into a large glass jar. In a separate large mixing glass or pitcher, combine all other liquid ingredients. Slowly pour the latter into the jar with the milk. Stir gently. The mixture should have the textured look of shattered egg shells. Allow to stand for 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature, or until milk is fully curdled. Gently stir once more.
  • Secure a large piece of cheesecloth or a nut bag over a second large glass jar. Slowly and gently pour the mix over it. 
  • Pour the clarified milk punch into a large glass pitcher filled with ice. Pour a half-teaspoon of the Chartreuse into a double-old fashioned glass or stemless wine glass, gently tip until it’s almost sideways, and slowly coat the insides with the liqueur. Discard any extra. Pour in the punch and serve. Cheers!

To make the rich simple syrup

  • Combine 2 cups of sugar with 1 cup water in a small pot over heat. Bring to boiling and then lower until simmering, stirring occasionally. Cook until the sugar dissolves and the liquid starts to become syrupy, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool and store in an air-tight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.