Milking It

By Christopher Crown

September 7, 2017 4 min read

While the kids leave out good ol' 2 percent for Santa, the adults can mix up their own drinks. Here are several milk-based holiday cocktails, with an emphasis on recipes that use almond milk and coconut milk, two popular options that even dairy-free friends can enjoy.

It's time. Your bartender knows it, your party guests know it and so do you: cocktails change with the seasons. When you retire the pontoon for the season and swap your tank tops for sweaters, somehow that Pina Colada just doesn't feel right anymore. The after-work drink desire switches from "tropical" to "cozy." Many just tone down their passionfruit-infused daiquiri craze and transition to classic mixers, but, from time-tested standards to innovative and dairy-free alternatives, milk just might be your holiday cocktail wild card.

Adding milk to cocktails can provide a filling, rich creaminess that can really hit the spot on cold winter nights -- and we've been using this spirituous strategy or hundreds of years. According to a 2016 article by Cara Strickland from TalesoftheCocktail.com, historians have dated milk in cocktails back to the 1600s in a drink called Milk Punch, and have even found Ben Franklin's recipe for his favorite version! Here is an authentic recipe for an old classic provided by Natalie Broulette and published on SouthernLiving.com in 2013:

*Holiday Milk Punch

2 cups milk

2 cups half-and-half

1 cup brandy or bourbon

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Crushed ice

Freshly grated nutmeg

Whisk together milk, half-and-half, brandy, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a pitcher. Serve over crushed ice. Top each serving with freshly grated nutmeg.

Although dairy drinks might be no problem for some, others have found out that diary doesn't sit well in their system. Fortunately, there are some inventive, and quite tasty, dairy-free holiday alternatives that still offer that cozy and creamy experience. Below is a spin on a holiday favorite from FoodRepublic.com, written by Kaitlyn Thornton in 2015:

*Almond Milk White Russian

1-ounce coffee-flavored liqueur, such as Kahlua

2 ounces high-quality vodka, such as Ketel One

Splash of homemade almond milk, to taste (approximately 1-2 ounces)

In a rocks glass, combine vodka and liqueur. Add ice. Gently pour almond milk over the ice -- "float" it -- so that it slowly flows down the glass without fully incorporating. Stir and enjoy.

If you want to give this cocktail even more holiday spirit, MilkLife.com recommends adding Peppermint Schnapps to taste and coating the rim of your glass with crushed candy-cane pieces.

Although the FDA does classify coconuts as "tree nuts," many with nut allergies have found that coconut milk poses no threats. For those who are dairy and nut-free, Katie "The Wellness Mama," from a website of the same name, shares a quick-assembly, large batch and highly rated coconut milk alternative to a holiday favorite that is sure to knock the stockings off your guests:

*Coconut Milk Eggnog

6 cups coconut milk

6 egg yolks

1/4 cup (or more) spiced rum or brandy

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup honey or cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Put all ingredients except alcohol in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth

Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and slowly bring the temperature up to low heat, being careful not to let the eggnog boil. When it is well warmed and barely starting to thicken, take it off the heat and chill in the fridge for several hours, adding the alcohol in just before serving.

These delicious fireside mug-fillers may not be Paleo friendly or on your 10k training diet, but hey, you've been good this year.

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