Julia Reed’s Milk Punch

Spiked with bourbon and brandy, this recipe—excerpted from one of many treasured cookbooks on our shelf by the late Julia Reed—is especially good before a holiday lunch served with cheese straws and pecans
Julia Reed's Milk Punch served from a silver pitcher on a silver tray filled with green goblets

“I never serve eggnog—the one holiday culinary tradition I have not been able to get behind—but I do make milk punch. With its frothy top and not-so-jaundiced color, a milk punch is prettier to look at than eggnog and is not nearly as rich and cloying, saved from that state by an effective combination of bourbon and brandy. They are especially good before a holiday lunch with, naturally, cheese straws and pecans. By evening, everyone wants a Santa hat.” — From Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties by Julia Reed (St. Martin’s Press, 2008)

Milk Punch


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 quart (4 cups) whole milk
  • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
  • 2 cups brandy
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish


1 | Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cooking just until all the sugar has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool. It may be stored, refrigerated in a jar, for up to two weeks.

2 | Whisk the milk and the cream together in a large pitcher or punch bowl until blended. Stir in the spirits and vanilla. Add 1/2 cup of the simple syrup. Taste and add more simple syrup as needed.

3 | Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. To serve, pour into tumblers or goblets (pictured in green goblets from Reed Smythe & Company) and grate nutmeg on top.

Excerpted from Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties | Photography by Laurey W. Glenn

Keith Meacham (the author) with the late Julia Reed

Remembering Julia

Julia Reed was the life of any party but loved nothing more than giving one. Her dear friend and business partner, Keith Meacham, shares memories and a few of the entertaining lessons she learned from Julia over the years. Read more.