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The Milk Punch Revolution is Here | 2 Clear Cocktails Without Citrus!

Milk washed bourbon old fashioned made with powdered milk instead of regular milk

Hello, Friends of Cocktails! Let’s say you’d like to add a rounder, silkier mouthfeel to your stirred cocktails, like the Old Fashioned or a Martini. Clarifying with milk is a great way to do it, but for that you need the milk to curdle, so you also add acidity and citrus juice can add a flavor you might not want. That can now be a thing of the past thanks to the Powdered Milk Punch Technique!

Today we’ll go over two different ways of using this new clarifying technique, to show you how you can make two mind-blowing, but also very different Old Fashioned cocktails, including a vegan-friendly Piña-Colada-inspired Rum Old Fashioned. If you’ll reach the Bottom of The Glass we’ll check out the history of powdered milk, so stick around for that. 

So to set the scene for what we’re doing today, clarified milk punches use the proteins in milk to add a luxurious, velvety texture to the cocktail, while the acidity in the cocktail curdles the milk, making it possible to strain out all of the solids. This process also clarifies the cocktail and removes the tannins, resulting in a rounded and rich drink without the heaviness of the dairy.

Despite how popular it is, this is far from being a modern technique. Milk punches date back to the 1700s, in the era before refrigeration, as it creates a stable drink that could be stored for long periods of time… but then Daniel Villa, a bartender working in Charlotte, North Carolina, realized he could hack the age old technique by using powdered milk!

If you want to see Daniel explain the technique in detail, I recommend you give the full episode a watch by clicking the video at the end of the post, and meanwhile we’ll start by making a toasted milk powder Old Fashioned, starting with our Rehydrated Toasted Milk. It’s Cocktail Time!

Toasted milk powder on a baking tray, ready to be used for cocktails

Rehydrated Toasted Milk

● 40g Powdered Milk

● 280g Water*

I’ll toast this powdered milk in an oven. To do that, spread the powdered milk evenly on a baking sheet and place for 5-10 minutes with the oven set to 110°C or 230°F, as higher temperatures can burn or brown the powder too quickly. Once the powdered milk is toasted, it might be a bit uneven, with darker edges. That's okay because we’ll mix it all with water and it will taste great, with a nice caramel aroma and flavor added to the powdered milk.


For that I’ll boil the water and add our toasted powdered milk. And since powdered milks can vary I’d suggest you follow the instructions on the packaging, like I did with this one. Whisk well for about half a minute, then set aside as with that we have what we need for our Whiskey Old Fashioned!

Whiskey & Toasted Milk Old Fashioned

● 240mL · 8oz Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

● 30mL · 1oz Maple Syrup

● 6 dashes Angostura Bitters

● 8 drops 20% Saline Solution

● 90mL · 3oz Rehydrated Toasted Milk

Into a container add all your ingredients with the exception of the Rehydrated Toasted Milk, starting with our bourbon. I went with a Kentucky Straight Bourbon that sits at 45% ABV, made with a small selection of bourbon whiskies that have been aged between 6 and 7 years. It has a rich buttery and honeyed taste with popcorn notes that will work great with what we’re doing with this powdered milk. Mix everything before we pour it over the still hot toasted milk in a separate container. 

The curds will start forming quite quickly, just as if we added citrus to this cocktail. After that passes I’ll strain it through a coffee filter as the curds form an additional filter, after which you can strain the liquid through again to end up with a clear result. Once this step is done, we should have enough for 4 servings each, but you can easily multiply the amounts to make a bigger batch and bottle it for future use. Now all that’s left is to serve it over a nice block of clear ice, stir, and express orange oils on top. Cheers!

Aromas reminiscent of a classic Old Fashioned with strong orange notes greet you. On the palate it transforms into a smoother version, where the bourbon’s aromatics blend well with the caramel-buttery milk. The curdling process enhances the cocktail's character, and in my opinion, even improves it. No, this is a great drink… but what if you prefer a vegan alternative instead?

For our next cocktail we’re combining two interesting variations to this technique. First we’re using a vegan-friendly coconut milk, but we’re also spicing things up with a pineapple tea made from pineapple scraps, namely, the peels. 

Pineapple Tea

● 200g Pineapple Peels

● 600g Water

So start by peeling half of a pineapple. We don’t need pineapple juice today, but check out the Cryo-concentration post if you want the sweetest pineapple juice, even if your pineapple isn’t super ripe. As for the pineapple leaves, pluck some nice ones that can be used for garnish, and you can save the leftover ones in the freezer for future use.


Now let’s bring the water to a boil, then throw in the pineapple peels, cover and continue to simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. After that, strain out the peels and let’s use this zero-waste pineapple tea to rehydrate the powdered coconut milk. 

Rehydrated Coconut & Pineapple Milk

● 15g Coconut Milk Powder

● 200g Pineapple Tea

I’m repeating the process to rehydrate the milk, but this time we’re using slightly less milk powder than with the first cocktail, because when testing those amounts I got a thicker mixture that filtered for a really long time, and there was too much coconut flavor, overpowering the pineapple. When that’s fully mixed and dissolved I’ll also make a 2:1 syrup with the remaining pineapple tea, using 150g of pineapple tea and 300g of sugar. 

This syrup will work great in a Daiquiri or many Tiki cocktails,but today we’ll use it for our Piña Colada Milk Punch Old Fashioned - quite a mouthful, but simple to make!

Piña Colada Milk Punch Old Fashioned

● 240mL · 8oz La Hechicera Reserva Familiar Rum

● 30mL · 1oz Pineapple Tea Syrup

● 12 dashes Cocoa Bitters

● 8 drops 20% Saline Solution

● 90mL · 3oz Rehydrated Coconut & Pineapple Milk

The making of this one follows the same process as our previous cocktail, except the milk might curdle less than before, so let it sit for 10 minutes. After that it’s time to filter, again through a coffee filter. The filtration process will be longer here, but be patient and make sure you’re getting as clear of a result as possible, by re-filtering the first part, then just give it time. After that, you’re ready to pour your cocktail over clear ice, and garnish with a small, elegant sized pineapple leaf. Doesn’t get any simpler. 

We get at first a slightly murky Old Fashioned, probably due to the fats in coconut milk. On the aroma, rum and coconut dominate. The cocktail maintains its full-bodied character with exciting tropical notes too. Not quite a piña colada, but it's tropical, nutty, and rich! With that we’ve made it to the Bottom of The Glass of Milk.

Today we’ll learn a few fun facts about the history of powdered milk, for which we need to go back all the way to the time of Marco Polo. He wrote about Mongolian Tatar troops who carried sun-dried skimmed milk as "a kind of paste", but the first modern production process for dried milk was invented by a Russian doctor, Osip Krichevsky in 1802, with his compatriot, chemist M. Dirchoff organizing the first commercial production of dried milk in 1832.

And now… some 190 years later, we’re powdered milk to make better milk punches - evolution! Alongside milk punches you can also use it in cooking, baking and even tea or coffee to add richness and creaminess. For another fun dairy ingredient for your cocktails check out this Milk Syrup, to add a bit of froth without using egg whites, and I’ll see you next week. Cheers, Friends of Cocktails! 


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