Photo: Hugo Yu

Despite the name, “milk punch” is a style of drink that’s usually clear and always good for warmer temperatures: Booze, sugar, and citrus are combined with dairy until it curdles. The solids are strained out, and the delicate, satiny liquid that’s left behind is the cocktail. At Superbueno, a version is infused with salted plum and tamarind; Jelas, in Union Square, serves a rotating selection, including a spicy-margarita riff with Sichuan peppercorn.

At Bungalow, the East Village restaurant from chef Vikas Khanna and Jimmy Rizvi that’s fashioned after India’s colonial-era country clubs, the goal was to create a milk punch that evoked a familiar cup of masala chai; it took longer than expected to get it right.

“It’s our most intense cocktail,” Rizvi says, “both in terms of richness and labor.” An early version with lime was deemed too bitter, so orange juice was swapped in to pair with lemon. There was also an attempt to brew the chai with milk, but that didn’t extract the right flavor. Instead, full-fat milk was added to a mixture of Old Monk Indian rum and citrusy chai concentrate made with a blend of spices including cinnamon, bay leaf, ginger and cardamom. Then it was strained, repeatedly, for hours at a time until the mixture was completely clear. To serve it, bartenders pour the chai pani — literally “tea water,” a common phrase for refreshments — over a single ice cube and swipe the glass with a crumble of toasted Parle-G cookie, a classic accompaniment to chai.

Rizvi says that batches are made at the start of each week and require 36 hours to prepare and clarify. “We haven’t figured out the costs of making the cocktail yet, but it’s a lot, and we can only make a limited number at any given time,” he says, adding that Bungalow currently sells more than 600 of the $21 drinks per week. “The chai pani is definitely one of our small wins.”

The chai’s spice blend includes cinnamon, cardamon, rose petals, and bay leaves.

Indian rum is the base.

The citrus-y mixture is combined with milk and allowed to separate.

 Straining takes more than a day. (And labeling is crucial: well-meaning staff members have mistaken the strainer setup for dirty dishes and dumped entire batches.)

Biscuits are crumbled for garnish.

The finished drink is served via tap.

Photographs Hugo Yu