English Milk Punch – 1763 Benjamin Franklin Recipe

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History Of Clarified Milk Punch

The common origin story to this cocktail is provided in David Wondrich’s book “Punch” is the Clarified Milk Punch was invented by Mary Rockett. This cocktail seems to have been invented as a way of preserving milk punch by curdling and removing the parts that go bad and would turn the drink. The alcohol and milk fats protect the drink with epic stories of it lasting far longer than one would expect it to. Prior to refrigeration that was hard to do. The recipe I have provided here is the classic Benjamin Franklin English milk punch from 1763.

The Clarified or English milk punch starts to fade in the middle of the 1800s, and by the 1900s there isn’t a single book that mentions it. The invention of commercial refrigeration in the mid 1800s meant people could now get their drinks cold even in the middle of summer. Hot cocktails, room temperature cocktails, and preserved cocktails like this, fall out of favor to chilled drinks. Jerry Thomas give one of the last printed recipes for it and his is very similar to Benjamin Franklin’s recipe.

What Does English Milk Punch Taste Like

This taste absolutely nothing like what you would expect and it should not taste as good as it does. English milk punch is refreshing, full body and taste like a fancy sparkling lemonade but without the bubbles. You would never guess this was the byproduct of cheese. I’m usually pretty good at tasting something and guessing what is in it, or reading a list of ingredients and knowing what the final product will taste like, not all the time but enough, but I was completely and totally wrong when guessing what English milk punch would taste like. This is a fantastic drink that blew me away, and one I will make many more times.

Now just for fun I also tried the leftover cheese strained out of the milk punch and that taste EXACTLY like what you would expect. It was awful. A sweet and sour, booze cheese and it was so gross. If you make this, which you should, try both the cheese and the punch and you will be amazed they both came from the same mixture.

How Do You Make Clear Milk

By making cheese of course. Milk is made mostly of 4 things, water, protein (cheese), fat , and lactose (sugar) and by denaturing/cooking the protein you are able to isolate it out. Cooking can be done 2 ways, with heat, or acid. Typically when making cheese you keep the protein part and throw out the whey, but this cocktail reverses that and instead you save is the whey (water, fat, sugar) part. By removing the cloudy white protein, what is left is the clear pale yellow liquid.


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English Milk Punch – 1763 Benjamin Franklin Recipe

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Learn how to make English Milk Punch.


  • 1 Cup Lemon Juice

  • 1/2 Cup Simple Syrup

  • 2 Cups Water

  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg

  • 3 Cups Brandy

  • 1.5 Cups Milk


  • Using a knife cut the zest of 5 lemons and juice the lemons to the required volume. Set juice aside. add the shaved zest to the brandy and let it sit for 24 hours. After 24 hours remove and discard the lemon zest.
  • Add the sugar to the brandy and stir till dissolved. Now set brandy aside.
  • In a large pot combine water, nutmeg, and milk and bring to 100f/37c.
  • Once milk has warmed turn off heat and add the lemon juice and brandy. Stir the mixture for 30 seconds then let it sit for 2 hours undisturbed.
  • Line a mesh strainer with a large paper coffee filter and strain out cheese, letting the clear whey run into a large pot. Bottle, refrigerate and serve cold.

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