Cocktails made with milk have a homey, old-fashioned feel to them — they’re the kind of drink sipped in front of a roaring fire rather than at a trendy lounge. In cocktails, milk can often substitute for half-and-half or cream to make a lighter version of a given mixed drink. Milk marries well with coffee liqueur, vanilla, banana, butterscotch, creme liqueurs, amaretto, frangelico and brown spirits.

White Russian and Variations

The White Russian seems to have originated in the mid-1960s as a variation on the older Black Russian and was popularized by its appearance in the cult movie “The Big Lebowski.” This drink is traditionally made with cream, but many versions call for whole milk instead. Mix milk, vodka and coffee liqueur and pour over ice. If made with skim milk, this is an “Anna Kournikova.” Try vanilla-flavored vodka as another worthy variation.

Eggnog and Milk Punches

A brandy milk punch combines brandy, milk and sugar plus a sprinkle of nutmeg. The result is suitable for holiday parties as well as brunch. It’s often confused with the Brandy Alexander, which uses cream and creme de cacao and omits the sugar. The iconic New Orleans restaurant Brennan’s is given credit for perfecting the classic recipe for brandy milk punch. You can also substitute bourbon for a bourbon milk punch. Similar to the brandy milk punch, eggnog consists of brandy, rum or bourbon with the addition of milk, sugar and beaten eggs; it’s often garnished with a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon. Eggnog is synonymous with the winter holiday season and is rarely served at any other time.

Hot Milk Drinks

Hot milk drinks are generally associated with the winter months. The Tom and Jerry — an eggnog relative — was popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries but fell into relative obscurity thereafter. Tom and Jerry is a warm milk punch best made in quantity. Brandy and rum is combined with spiced egg whites, sugar and hot milk to create a frothy drink. In this case, the milk is essential — cream or half-and-half would create a concoction that would be entirely too rich. The Jean Gabin cocktail is named after the famous French actor of the 1930s. Combine Calvados and dark rum with hot milk, and then add maple syrup and stir until the syrup is dissolved. Difford’s Guide says it “beats hot chocolate as a nightcap.”

More Milk Cocktails

Recipes for the cocktail known as Tiger’s Milk vary, but generally incorporate brandy, rum, milk, sugar and cinnamon. The cinnamon and the milk are the key ingredients here. Pour the combination over ice. Other simple milk cocktail combinations that may go by various names include rum, banana liqueur and milk; chocolate liqueur or creme de cacao and milk; milk and Irish cream; chambord, coffee liqueur and milk; amaretto and milk.