The Wine Kitchen’s Clarion Call to Greatness in a Glass

Credit our founding father’s tactical and political victories to discipline, cunning and the ever-present inspiration of Barbadian rum. It turns out, that’s all George Washington drank, and it served his campaign purposes as well. Ladle pours cheered voters to the polls to elect him to the House of Burgesses in 1758, the year of Leesburg’s founding. As Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, George also believed alcohol sustained the morale of his fighting men, saying, “The benefits of moderate use of liquor have been experienced in all armies and are not to be disputed.”

The liquor that stirred the general’s patriots was a bit rough around the edges. Back then, intrepid tavern keepers often filtered rum through milk, a practice known as “milk washing.” When you mix milk and citrus with liquor, milk proteins bond to the liquor’s astringent compounds and then curdle. Absent strained curds and color, what emerges is a clear, bold cocktail, still savory but light and refreshing.

Given The Wine Kitchen’s deeply ingrained spirit of creativity, we couldn’t resist updating the brew with a touch of our own tradition. Drawing on Purcellville’s Catoctin Creek Distillery’s newly released bitters, we used just a few drops to add hints of chicory, honeysuckle and regal rose to the cocktail that sounded the clarion and clarified the path to a more perfect union. May it inspire you to greatness.


  • 2 cups Plantation 5 Years Barbadian rum
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 20 dashes of Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye bitters


  1. Add milk to a large glass bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix all remaining ingredients into a pitcher.
  3. Slowly pour the mixture into the milk and gently stir. Set aside for 45 minutes to allow curds to settle.
  4. Strain through a cheesecloth to collect the curds.
  5. Strain a second time through the curds, taking care not to disturb them.
  6. Strain through a coffee filter, then store in an airtight sealed container (We use a mason jar.) and place in the refrigerator.
  7. When cold, pour over a single large cube of ice, and the milk punch is ready to serve!