Warm Coconut Chai Punch

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Bourbon / Punch

This past weekend, a group of friends and I made our inaugural trip to the Sierras to kick off the summer.  But May is a fickle month, and while in some years May is a warm and sunny preview of the summer to come, this year it was cold, drizzling, and dreary.  Though our cabin is quite small and usually depends heavily on the use of the deck for accommodating large groups of people, we managed to keep our sanity and entertain twelve people for two nights in part thanks to this boozy and warming cocktail (and forcing two people to sleep in the kitchen).

I am a big fan of milk punch, but knew I wanted this one to be warm to ward off the chill outside.  I also knew it had to be dairy free (to accommodate dietary restrictions in the group) and had to be easy to make in a batch.  I started with this recipe and tweaked until I found something I liked, but it was lacking some depth of flavor.  I threw in some chai, knowing that chai and coconut fit together like two peas in a pod, and knew I’d hit it.

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Warm Coconut Chai Punch (serves 6)

4 cups milk

1.5 cups coconut milk (or just use all coconut milk if you want it to be non-dairy)

3 bags chai (use Rooibos for caffeine-free)

1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out and added to the milk mixture

1/3 cup brown sugar, or to taste

12 oz bourbon

Combine all ingredients on the stove except the bourbon.  Heat until warm, then let simmer for a little bit to let the tea steep.  After about 5 minutes, taste and see if the chai is strong enough.  Add 2 oz bourbon to each of six mugs and ladle about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the mug.  Top with grated cinnamon or cloves.

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Mixes well with Dixit, cozy blankets, and beer, apparently.

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