The father celebrates a birthday today, so we are making a drink for him. As you get older it seems harder to find things to give for birthdays and Christmas, at least within the family. We all have everything we could wish for, except for more time and none of us can afford that. So instead of giving dad some socks or a tie or yet another desk accessory, I am going with trying to recreate an experience, so won’t you join me now as we stand and make Arnaud’s Milk Punch.

We tried this one a couple of weeks ago when we made the Devilish Coffee Milk Punch, a recipe he had sent to me from Garden & Gun. He was excited to try it again and he and mom got all nostalgic talking about the ones they shared together in New Orleans back in the 70’s. As I have already well-documented elsewhere, that was not the right recipe, so while it was excellent it was a failure in the quest to relive that nostalgic Milk Punch moment. Undaunted, I tracked down the Arnaud’s recipe and decided to give it a shot.

Arnaud’s Milk Punch

Grab your tins and pop in 1 1/2 ounce of brandy or bourbon. They had both been adamant that their remembered milk punch was a bourbon drink, so we went with E.H. Taylor Single Barrel, Bottled in Bond. This one calls for 1/2 an ounce of dark rum, so we went with one of the best, Havana Club 7 Year. To that add 2 ounces of half and half, 3/4 teaspoon of Simplify vanilla extract and 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup. Pop in some ice and shake to the beat of “Buttons and Bows”. The Dinah Shore version that topped the charts when the Captain launched. Besides Dinah is from just down the road and we don’t hear enough from her these days. When your tins are well chilled, strain over ice into a rocks glass and grate some fresh nutmeg over the top.

This is lovely, perfectly lovely. I do miss the depth that the coffee added in the other one, but there is nothing wrong with this at all. That excellent bourbon and rum really run the show here with the vanilla rounding out the flavor. This one is definitely great. Seriously, this is a wonderful drink.

It is also the wrong drink. Dad acknowledged that it was very good, just not the one that he was remembering, mom tried it and confirmed that even though this followed Arnaud’s recipe precisely and was expertly crafted by these strong simian hands, it was, sadly, just not right. Which makes sense on some level, I figured that I was working uphill on this one. It is hard to match a memory, things are always smoother, more golden, creamier in retrospect. This is why we go back to ex’s, remember childhood treats as the pinnacle of decadence and why Christmases were always nicer somehow when we were younger. Nostalgia is life’s way of sanding the rough edges off and helping us remember the good old days which were rarely all that great when they were new. But my folly ran deeper than that. It turns out that they did not enjoy this nearly mythical, at this point, milk punch at Arnaud’s, they had it at Brennan’s. Not only did they have it at Brennan’s, but mom had the recipe. So, with hope in my heart, I set out again to craft the legendary Milk Punch of yore, Brennan’s edition; which I will set forth for you now.

Brennan’s Milk Punch

Grab your freshly washed tins and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of that truly amazing E.H. Taylor Single Barrel Bottled in Bond Bourbon, 1 ounce of simple syrup, 4 ounces of half and half and 1/2 an ounce of Simplify Vanilla Extract. Add ice and shake again, this time to “A Pirate Looks at Forty” by Dr. James Buffett. When well-chilled strain over ice into another more different rocks glass, grate some fresh nutmeg on top and serve, with a bit of trepidation presenting as over confidence.

The third time is indeed the charm. This was the drink they were looking for and it was seriously excellent. All three versions were really nice, but this one was creamier and more straightforward. The simplicity really worked. I was just excited that we got there, because we kept trying. Sure we started with some miscommunication and then it got even more muddled, but we persevered and found our way through together. We haven’t always done that, so I’d say that is a pretty good cause for celebration by itself, and we have just the drink to toast with. Happy birthday, Captain! The rest of y’all stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane.