During the California gold rush, San Franciscans were introduced to the grape-based spirit pisco thanks to ships stopping in the port of Pisco, Peru, to pick up supplies on their way to the West Coast. San Francisco bartender Duggan McDonnell of Cantina adapted this recipe for aged pisco–milk punch from Jerry Thomas’s 1862 book of cocktail recipes called the Bartenders Guide. It’s a unique punch: You’ll infuse pisco with spices and citrus for 2 days, add milk and green tea syrup to it, age that mixture for 3 days, then strain it through cheesecloth to remove all the curdled bits. It may sound weird, but it produces a spiced, balanced holiday drink that’s not too rich or too sweet, despite being dairy-based.
Special equipment: You will need 1 large piece of ultrafine woven cheesecloth. It can be purchased at cooking supply stores or online.
What to buy: Pisco is a brandy distilled from South American white Muscat grapes. It can be found at well-stocked liquor stores or online.
Game plan: The pisco and rum are infused for 2 days before the milk is added, then the mixture needs 3 more days to age before serving, so plan accordingly. Once made, the milk punch will last up to 1 month stored in the refrigerator.
This recipe was featured as part of our Drinks from San Francisco’s Sleazy Past.