The Narwhal Cocktail: A Magical Shimmering Milk Punch

When I decided to make a narwhal cocktail for the holidays, I knew there had to be a little magic involved. After all, these unicorns of the sea seem almost too fantastic to exist in real life—but they do!

And I already had the appropriate glassware from last year’s Elf holiday party. It deserved a drink that would make the season truly sparkle.

narwhal cocktails made with milk punch
Photo: Casey Barber

With Arctic beasts who swim through icy blue depths as my inspiration, the first magical ingredient was easy: indigo blue cocktail shimmer dust.

Because the cocktail shimmer dust is such a showstopper on its own, I could have just made a simple martini like a Vesper and brightened it up with a shimmer. But what’s the fun in that?

Nope, this narwhal cocktail had to be a little more special than just a colorful martini. So for the second magical ingredient, I decided to make a mint-and-spice clarified milk punch.

If you’re a cocktail enthusiast who’s always wondered about clarified milk punch, it’s time-consuming but not difficult.

steeping a milk punch base
Photo: Casey Barber

You make a flavored tea-and-booze base, and let that steep overnight.

Then you add milk and acid to the base, and watch it curdle. Yeah, it’s a little gross in theory, but the curdling is the key element to milk punch.

Like making cheese in reverse, the milk solids (curds) strip away the bitter tannins and other elements in the punch base.

straining milk punch
Photo: Casey Barber

When you strain out the curds, you end up with a flavorful punch that’s almost colorless but most definitely not lacking in flavor.

Whatever elements you put into your punch base—in this case, a wintry mix of fresh mint, cardamom, and star anise—come through loud and clear in the finished product.

Speaking of clear…. People like to call it “crystal clear,” but clarified milk punch definitely retains a slightly yellow tint. All the better to color it up with indigo shimmer!

narwhal cocktails made with milk punch
Photo: Casey Barber

Because there’s a lot of wait time involved in the process, a narwhal cocktail is definitely a make-ahead drink.

However, because milk punch easily keeps in the fridge for a week, that’s reason enough to make a big batch for a party.

For the narwhal cocktail, you can either serve your drinks neat in martini glasses—don’t forget the themed narwhal cocktail picks—or on the rocks in highball glasses.

To get the full effect of the shimmer dust, add and stir just before serving. Your guests will be amazed by the beautiful swirling effect.

And to replicate the look of a narwhal horn, twisted sugared lemon peels topped with edible glitter heighten the magic.

narwhal cocktails made with milk punch

narwhal cocktails made with milk punch

Narwhal Cocktails (Milk Punch with Shimmer Dust)

Yield: 12 drinks
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days 40 minutes

The Narwhal Cocktail is a magical way to celebrate the holidays. Made with clarified milk punch and edible cocktail shimmer dust, it truly sparkles.


Milk Punch:

  • 4 white tea bags
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 thick strips of orange peel
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, rinsed
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 cup white rum
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cups whole milk

For the Cocktail:

  • 12 fluid ounces (1 1/2 cups) vodka, spiced rum, or gin
  • blue cocktail shimmer dust


To make the milk punch:

  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil.
  2. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags, cover, and steep for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the tea bags and stir in the sugar until dissolved.
  4. Stir in the star anise, cardamom, orange peel, and mint.
  5. Re-cover and steep for 1 hour.
  6. Pour in the vodka and rum.
  7. Let the punch base infuse at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  8. The next day, strain the punch to remove the solids, and stir in the fresh lemon juice.
  9. Bring the milk to a bare simmer (185 degrees F)—it should be steaming, with just a few bubbles barely starting to form around the edges.
  10. Pour the milk into the punch and stir once or twice, gently. The milk will immediately start to curdle.
  11. Let the punch rest at room temperature for 30 minutes so the milk solids can set.
  12. Line a mesh strainer with a damp flour sack towel or cheesecloth and place over a large bowl (I use my KitchenAid mixer bowl because it's nice and deep).
  13. Strain the punch to remove the milk solids.
  14. Refrigerate the punch for at least 4 hours or overnight again, letting any residual milk solids settle to the bottom of the bowl.
  15. Strain the punch once more through a damp coffee filter to remove any remaining milk solids.
  16. Refrigerate until you're ready to make cocktails.

To make the narwhal cocktail:

  1. Mix 1/2 cup of the milk punch with 1 ounce vodka, spiced rum, or gin per serving.
  2. If serving neat, stir with ice in a cocktail pitcher, then strain into chilled cocktail coupes or martini glasses.
  3. Add a few shakes of blue shimmer dust to each glass and gently stir to dissolve.
  4. If serving over ice, stir the punch, gin, and a few shakes of blue shimmer dust together in a pitcher.
  5. Add ice to highball glasses and divide the drink between the glasses.
  6. Whichever way you choose, stir and serve immediately for the full swirling shimmer effect.


To make sugared lemon peels:

  1. Dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup simmering water to make simple syrup.
  2. Add the lemon peels and cook for about 15 minutes until soft and translucent.
  3. Drain (reserving the syrup for other drinks if desired) and as soon as the peels are cool enough to handle, twist them around long skewers.
  4. Sprinkle with edible glitter or sparkling sugar and let harden.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 287Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 19mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 0gSugar: 20gProtein: 1g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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