A Punch That Will be Welcomed

20 Nov

The Gift of Punch.  In the December 2009 issue of Esquire magazine, the one with Robert Downey Jr. on the cover, there is an article about the things you need to do this holiday season, in calendar form.  One of the inserts is a piece about how to make a good punch, and one of the recipes had me ready for a group to come over so I could make a GIANT batch.  For a horde of people, put together this “Spread Eagle Punch:“This American classic (the recipe from Jerry Thomas’ 1862 How to Mix Drinks, the world’s first bartender’s guide), is a foil for the fruity swill that so often passes for holiday punch.  Dry, rich, and both smokey and lemony, it leverages the healing power of whiskey to create something that’s masculine enough for your uncle but not so intense that your co-workers won’t lap it up.

Procedure: Forty-eight hours before your party, put a gallon bowl full of water in the freezer.  The day of, use a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler to peel a dozen lemons, trying to get as little of the white pith as possible.  Put the peels in a 2- to 3-gallon pot (one with a cover) and muddle them with one cup of sugar. Let sit for half an hour, muddle again, and add 2 bottles of smokey single-malt Scotch (Bowmore Legend is good and affordable, but Laphroaig will work well, too) and 2 bottles of straight rye whiskey. (The sazerac rye is particularly fine here.) Stir and then add 1 gallon boiling water.  Stir again until the sugar has dissolved.  Cover and let cool.  To serve, unmold your bowl of ice (you may have to run hot water over the bottom of the bowl) and put it in a punch bowl.  Pour the punch over teh ice, add 4 thinly sliced, de-seeded lemons, grate half a nutmeg over the top.  Serves 48.”

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