Today’s clever cocktail is not a cocktail at all. Long before the word cocktail was penned there was the Punch Bowl. The social tipple offered up in an ornate vessel for communal drinking. So, this week should you have a holiday crowd, dig out grandma’s punch set, get out from behind the bar and let your guests enjoy a punch as old as Dickens himself. The punchbowl was no stranger to Charles Dickens or his written cast of characters. The recipe we offer you eliminates Dickens’s elaborate showmanship of igniting the spirits to melt the sugar. We sacrifice this step for the sake of not having a holiday house fire. Should you choose to follow his original process, feel free to google the recipe but beware, such a process requires a sober, steady hand to execute safely and with proper flair. Below we share with you the Bottle Pros simplified version which we call “A Dickens of a Punch”. It can be offered hot or cold and is quite enjoyable either way.
A Dickens of a Punch
In a small bowl add:
- 3/4 cup sugar demerara sugar (plain white in a pinch)
- The yellow zest of 3 lemons (reserve the lemons to juice later)
Stir the two together and let rest for 3 hours. (This infuses the essential lemon oils into the sugar creating what is called an oleo-saccharum).
In a small stock pot add in this order:
- 5 Cups Strong Black Tea
- 2 Cups Navy Strength Rum (90 proof +/-)
- 1 1/4 Cups Well Bred Cognac (preferably VSOP)
- Sugar/Lemon Zest Oleo-Saccharum
- The Juice of the Three Reserved Lemons
Bring the heat up slowly, stirring until hot but not to a boil.
At this point if you desire a Hot Punch ladle into individual punch cups. Garnish with lemon wheels and dust with nutmeg.
For Cold Punch
Allow the punch to cool, transfer into a punch bowl. Lay in one Large Lump of Ice (chipped from block ice). Garnish with Lemon Wheels and Dust with Nutmeg. Present with Ladle and Punch Cups for Guests to Serve Themselves.