Gin Punch

I was craving that gin punch.

At the kickoff of Plymouth Gin’s Historic Los Angeles Cocktail Tour last month (which I still haven’t written about, because I’m a lazy bastard and God Emperor of Procrastination), Dave Wondrich handed us each a flask filled with what he described simply as “gin punch.” It was great.

A couple of weekends ago Wes and I were asked if we wanted to bring cocktails to a pool party and barbecue we had been invited to. The answer to that is always “Yes!” but often we tend to feel more like enjoying the party than mixing drinks the whole time, particularly when a pool is involved. This is one of those times that calls for punch, and my mind snapped back to Dave’s gin punch and how much I enjoyed it.

I went right for my copy of his marvelous book Imbibe! (the work copy, that is; we have two copies of it — one pristine and autographed, and the other one that we’re beating the crap out of in our kitchen and bar, and which already has a cracked spine and loose pages). There on page 77 was a punch recipe that seemed awfully similar to the one we had that day, and was undoubtedly It.

Given who the sponsor was, the gin we had that day was Plymouth, although the original recipe from the early- to mid-1800s was based on “Holland gin,” or genever. If you want to be authentic, make it with an oude genever, or try Maytag’s excellent Genevieve Genever-style Gin. Dave says even a London dry will work, and that’s what we used, because we had about 2 liters of Beefeater on hand and didn’t want to use up all our Boomsma or Genevieve.

For the raspberry syrup you can use Monin or even Torani in a pinch. The best raspberry syrup we’ve ever come across is from Harry and David, those folks that sell the amazing (and amazingly expensive) flats of fruit as gifts, and lots of other expensive bottled and bagged stuff too. Their raspberry syrup is amazing, richly flavored of fresh berries, not too sweet, and stays well-blended in the drink. Problem is, I just checked their online catalog and it doesn’t seem to be listed anymore. (D’oh.) As far as I can tell the product is discontinued.

Dr. Cocktail is fond of Smucker’s Raspberry Syrup, and it’s really good too. We found that it’s heavy and has a tendency to sink to the bottom of a drink rather than stay blended. This is not necessarily a bad thing — it just means you shouldn’t dawdle over your drink!

Or hell, just make your own.

Raspberry Syrup

2 cups fresh raspberries.
1-1/2 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons.
2-1/2 cups water.
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.

Combine the raspberries, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan and cook gently over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the berries begin to break down and release their juices, about 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the water and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil then immediate reduce to a low simmer, skimming any foam that forms. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.

Pour through a strainer, and press the fruit to squeeze out all the juices. Return to the pan, add the rest of the sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves, bring to a boil again and immediately reduce heat to a low simmer; simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool

Bottle and store in refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

YIELD: About 3 cups.

We didn’t have any raspberry syrup on hand, so we ended up kicking it up a bit by substituting the venerable Chambord black raspberry liqueur (which is made with blackberries as well). I had a lot of it on hand, after judging a local Chambord-sponsored cocktail competition a couple of weeks ago (and no, I haven’t written about that yet either, sigh).

I multiplied the recipe below by twelve to serve everyone, and had enough left over for us to have a nice li’l bowl of punch in the fridge for a few days. I think I might have to keep that practice up. Anyway, here’s the version of the punch I made, in a single-serving size:

Gin Punch
(Chuck’s version, based on the 19th Century recipe in Imbibe!)

3 ounces Beefeater gin.
1-1/2 ounces water.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
1/2 ounce Chambord (or raspberry syrup).
1/2 ounce simple syrup.
1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur.

Serve over ice in tall glasses, garnished with a slice of orange and berries in season. Provide straws for sipping.

This was good. They put a lot of this stuff away at the barbecue, and were very complimentary. Don’t let its pinkness put you off, though. It’ll knock you on your keister if you’re not careful. (A couple of people at the party cut it with lemonade, about 80% punch to 20% lemonade. Try some of the fizzy French-style, which would probably be very good in this.)