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Brennan’s Brandy Milk Punch

To insure we feel good for the following day’s Milk Punch Party, we avoid going out New Year’s Eve.

The party format has remained the same for more than 50 years: for good luck, Hopp’n John—black eyed peas, cooked with ham hocks and served over rice; for good health, greens—mustard, turnip and collards; to satisfy the  appetite, spareribs; and, to raise spirits, Milk Punch.

Milk punch is a New Orleans morning after tradition.  The concoction is designed to cool a parched throat with ice cream; settle a stomach with milk and clear a muddled head with brandy or bourbon.  The combined ingredients provide a sweet, easy to drink and surprisingly potent drink.

My freshman year at FSU I was invited to my first New Year’s Day party.  I arrived  with a date several hours after the party had begun. We poured a glass of Milk Punch and sat, on the floor, in front of the television to watch football.  Turning around, I realized how potent the punch was when everyone, except my date and me, was sound asleep.

My wife Terri’s first milk punch party took place a few months after she moved to Florida.  She volunteered to help prepare the punch and I assigned her to quality control—tasting each batch of punch. Terri made an unforgettable impression on her new friends when I slung her over my shoulder to carry her home.

Years later we invited our Sunday School class to join us to celebrate the new year and enlisted my brother to make the punch.  Late in the afternoon, I noticed our Sunday school teacher was slurring her words and the punch in her glass was bourbon brown.  Having run out of ice cream, my brother adjusted the recipe by doubling the bourbon and our guests were drinking almost straight shots of whiskey.  The members of the Senior Sunday School class at Winter Park Presbyterian still talk about that party.

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Anne and John Dozier

The past few years, our friends John and Anne Dozier have hosted the annual affair. They do a great job: Anne is a gracious host and her husband John is a Milk Punch party expert.  His preparations begin days before the party: spareribs are selected; just picked greens are bought; the dried black eyed peas are culled and he acquires gallons of ice cream and milk. The result is a meal that any Southerner—including imported ones—will appreciate.

New Year’s Eve is about celebrating the passing of the current year.  New Year’s Day is about greeting the new year; and, there’s no better way to do so than enjoying food, drink and laughter with friends.

John Dozier’s Milk Punch Recipe

In a blender add:

1 cup good bourbon

1 cup ice cream (ice milk may be substituted)

1 cup milk (whole or reduced fat)

1 cup crushed ice

2 oz Cream De Cacao (Kahlua or Tia Maria may be substituted)

Blend until smooth and serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

I hope you have a happy, prosperous and healthy new year!

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