"It's party time, Doris!"
Making wonderful cocktails by the glass is all well and good at 7 o’clock on a Thursday evening before heading out to dinner. But come Saturday afternoon, when the fruit salad hits the table and you’re revving up the ol’ waffle iron with six friends on their way for brunch, making drinks one or two at a time starts to lose its romance in a hurry. Who wants to spend half the afternoon making drinks and missing the party? Wouldn’t it be nice to just make some punch and call it a day—I think we’ve got some sherbet from last Christmas!
And herein lies the problem: Punch gets a bad rap, conjuring images of 7-Up and day-glo orange sherbet mingling in a diabetic monstrosity, surrounded by paper plates and dollar store hot dogs — certainly not a vision in line with the sort of hospitality we’ve been mixing up in this column. But fear not! Punch actually has a long and storied history — much longer than the cocktails we’ve been making, in fact — and can be made to the same standard of quality and refinement. Someday we’ll talk about this history and some basic theory, but for now, let’s make this magic before our friends arrive.
2.5 parts Brandy (preferably Cognac)
0.5 parts Old, Good Rum (preferably Smith & Cross)
1 part Lime Juice
2 parts Water
Sugar — 1 ounce (by weight) per fluid-ounce of lime juice
Grated nutmeg for garnish
I serve this from a pitcher for convenience, but if you have a big, old punch bowl you want to trot out for the occasion, now is definitely the time. This recipe scales well, so make as much or as little as you need. I prefer this punch at room temperature, which brings out more of the flavors. If you are going to add ice to the bowl, cut back on the water a little. A really funky rum does wonders here for a nice depth of flavor and trade-route mystique. If you don’t have a worthy rum around, just use 3 full parts of brandy. I prefer cognac because the brandy is a central player and really characterizes this punch; if you use cheap brandy, it will show. The floor for quality on even inexpensive cognac is still much higher than it is for most mid-range brandy.
This is a pretty simple punch, quick to prepare and dangerously easy to drink. We mixed up a batch here at the shop for our Individualized Shirting event a couple weeks ago and it went over grandly. So to you fellows who were there and were asking about the punch — here’s your Sally McBride. Upon initial tasting we dubbed it “Oh! Be Joyful!” Use it wisely.