As a means of coping with the now gone (but NOT FORGOTTEN) soul crushing winter of 2k15, we fell in love. The object of our affection? A cocktail named milk punch. We met at Forrest Point, a lovely restaurant located at the famous Flushing Triangle.
While the entire cocktail menu commands respect, milk punch in particular has become a signature drink for the Bushwick eatery, which opened in August last year. I had the chance to speak with Forrest Point’s own Gareth Howells about the weeklong process behind the cocktail as well as his inspirations for two recently unveiled offerings.
Milk punch originated in the 1600s, but most people work off Jerry Thomas’ California milk punch recipe from the 1860s. There’s also a popular version associated with New Orleans, but Forrest Point’s milk punch differs from both. “There’s a very limited set of instructions with series of measurements that would make no sense in today’s world,” Gareth explains. The nebulous recipe allows bartenders like Gareth to get creative. Like many alcoholic beverages, milk punch was created as a means of preserving liquid pre-refrigeration. “It’s made to last forever,” Gareth notes. Ironically, Forrest Point can’t keep them in stock.
The process itself takes about seven days. Alcohol is sweetened with demerara and infused with various fruits and spices. After a couple of days milk curds are added. Gareth keeps the duration of this portion of the process a secret, but when it’s over, the liquids are strained extensively. The resulting beverage is not milky at all, but rather the clear liquid Forrest Point serves garnished in glass mugs.
Gareth Howells of Forrest Point
When we inquired as to the inspiration behind his two newest recipes, Gareth explained: “Generally, anything I do has a story to it, I love stories.” The Margot McGowan’s, whose 11 ingredients include both Jameson Black Barrel and Mount Gay Black Barrel, is inspired by memories of Gareth’s Irish grandmother and “spending time at her house in Dublin. She had a couple of recipes that inspired my use of cinnamon and vanilla.” The refreshing and ever so slightly spicy Panchito’s Way is inspired entirely by the continent of South America.
Carrying the thread of Gareth’s love for a good story, each of the drinks is true to its “identity” down to their non-alcoholic components. For example, the Margot McGowan’s includes Barry’s Irish Tea and the Panchito’s Way has Yerba Mate. You can imagine the mixologist spending as much time searching ephemera on Wikipedia as he does tasting his concoctions.
Gareth is committed to innovation, meaning more varieties of milk punch are on the horizon. “I’m always experimenting,” he explained. “Currently I’m working on several new recipes, including a chocolate milk punch.”
Alcoholic chocolate milk is in your future, Bushwick! Gareth never told us the story behind that one, but we’ll go out on a limb and offer up Bushwick’s “Neverland” feel as one possible interpretation.
Bushwick Daily pro tip: try one of Gareth’s milk punches on the newly opened patio!
Forrest Point’s milk punch menu (a glass is $9):
Islay Cyrus – the botanist Islay gin, Laird’s Applejack, Batavia Arrack, Lejay Cassis, Pear, Plum, Lemon, Green Tea, Coriander, Cloves, Demerara
Fancy Pants – Ron Zacapa 23, Wild Turkey 101, Pedro Ximinez Sherry, Pineapple, Lemon, Lapsang Souchong, Star Anise, Cinnamon, Demerara
Panchitos Way – Leblon Especial, Encanto Distillers Reserve, Fidencio Clasico, Ancho Reyes, Mango, Papaya, Black Grape, Lemon, Lime, Yerba Mate Tea, Canella, Star Anise, Vanilla Pod, Habanero, Demerara
Margot McGowan’s – Jameson Black Barrel, Mount Gay Black Barrel, Glendalough Mountain Strength Poitin, Green Apple, Blackberry, Sultanas, Lemon, Orange, Barry’s Irish Tea, Clove, Cinnamon, Vanilla Pod, White Peppercorn, Demerara