Milk Punch: The Cumberland's recipe for a centuries-old drink

Milk Punch is a drink that dates back hundreds of years; here's the recipe for The Cumberland's unique and delicious take on the classic.

Milk Punch: The Cumberland's recipe for a centuries-old drink

What is Punch? It’s an old, old drink. It has been around since at least the 1600s, and there’s many ways to make it. It’s a balance of citrus and liquor and sugar and served in a bowl — it’s not, I suppose, a drink for a public wary of plagues and pandemics, so we’ll leave the requirement of a shared vessel out of it for today.

Milk Punch is a somewhat slightly different beast. It is Punch, so it has liquor and citrus and sugar, but it employs one additional ingredient which transforms it into a drink worthy of gods: milk. That's right, milk.

But doesn't milk and citrus curdle when put together? Yes, and that's the point: Milk Punch relies upon the magic of curdling, and if the thought of curdled milk makes you wince, just bear with us a moment.

Drinks writer and historian David Wondrich, in his book on Punch, dates the earliest recipe for Milk Punch to 1711 and a woman named Mary Rockett, although it was most likely being made before this first written account.

When milk is added to acid — the citrus elements in this recipe — the milk solids will curdle and in the process strip the colour from the now clarified portion of the drink. And, with the milk solids removed — and thus with them the possibility of the drink turning rancid — the resulting mix should keep for quite sometime without going bad.

The process also adds a creamy texture the drink, without there being any actual cream present. Magic.

Don’t confuse this drink, however, with other classics like the New Orleans Milk Punch. That particular drink isn’t clarified and is made more in the style of a single serve, and is a drink made to order rather than batched in large quantities.

The recipe we're highlighting here certainly deserves to be batched in large quantities. It's delicious. It comes from the Cumberland in Manly, where they batch the ingredients together, before refrigerating the clarified drink so that it's ready to pour whenever a guest wants one.

The idea for the drink and The Cumberland’s cocktail list — like the name of the bar itself — is inspired by the old name for the ounty of Cumberland, the area in which modern-day Manly resides.

“Each drink champions a major export or material that was found within each county,” says bar manager Petr Dvoracek.

“The Georgiana has a milk and corn element which highlights the farming of cattle (milk) and harvesting corn as one of the main grain supplies for the area."

Made correctly, this clarified style of Milk Punch can be stored without going bad for an indefinite length of time, but it's also a great choice if you're mixing drinks for a big get together.

The Georgiana cocktail at The Cumberland in Manly. Photo: Boothby
The Georgiana at The Cumberland in Manly. Photo: Boothby



  1. 400ml Husk Spiced Rum
  2. 400ml Appleton Signature
  3. 200ml Laphroaig 10
  4. 400ml orange juice
  5. 400ml pineapple juice
  6. 200ml lime juice
  7. 150ml falernum
  8. 30ml Angostura aromatic bitters


  1. On the side, bring to a boil 900ml of milk which has been steeped with corn flakes for one hour. Stir the boiling milk in to the batch of punch.
  2. Leave it in the to separate for two days.
  3. Strain off the clear liquid and bottle.

Recipe from The Cumberland, Manly.