Punch of the day: Cape Fear Punch

I’ve mostly given up on the Food Network, because about 90% of their programming is crap (then again, as Sturgeon’s Law is often cited, albeit slightly incorrecty, 90% of everything is crap). I do still watch “Good Eats” occasionally, because Alton Brown is one of the few remaining good things about FN. A recent edition of his show that’s been sitting on our TiVo finally got watched last night, and it was about punch, a subject near and dear to our hearts ’round our house.

As usual, Alton has done his homework (which I suspect included reading David Wondrich’s Imbibe!), and right off the bat taught the Teeming Masses the long-cherished basic formula for punch … while dressed as a 17th Century buccaneer:

ONE of sour
TWO of sweet
THREE of strong
FOUR of weak, plus

(Alton, of course, being a fellow geek, had has deckhand recite, as he got to the fifth part, “He who controls the spice controls the Universe … the spice must flow!” Heh.)

He started off with a very simple punch recipe, using pints as the measurement and making a rather huge batch. One of lime juice (with the spent hulls), two of Demerara sugar, three of Batavia Arrack (to my surprise and delight) and four of tea (warm, so as to help dissolve the sugar), with grated nutmeg. The arrack will likely be difficult for some folks to find, but a title card said that it’s available “on the world wide web” (the source for all things).

The main punch recipe he dealt out, though, looked mighty good, and I’m looking forward to trying it:


For the base:
750ml rye whiskey.
750ml water.
1/2 cup Demerara sugar.
3 bags green tea (although I’d be tempted to substitute oolong).
375ml rum.
375ml Cognac.
4 whole lemons.

For the punch:
2 small oranges, thinly sliced.
4 small lemons, thinly sliced.
2 750ml bottles of sparkling wine.
1 liter sparkling water.
Large ice block.

For the base: Pour the rye whiskey into a 4-quart container. Fill the now empty rye whiskey bottle with water, pour into an electric kettle or saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until the temperature drops to 190 degrees F. Place the tea bags in the kettle and steep for 3 minutes.

Add the tea, rum, and Cognac to the whiskey. Peel the zest from the lemons, being careful to get only the yellow zest and not the white pith. (A vegetable peeler works best.) Wrap the peeled lemons in plastic wrap and reserve in the refrigerator. Add the lemon zest to the mixture, and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

For the punch: Strain the base into a large punch bowl. Juice the reserved lemons and add to the punch bowl. When ready to serve, add the sliced oranges, lemons, sparkling wine, and seltzer water; stir to combine. Add the ice block and serve with freshly grated nutmeg per serving to taste.

You can do this in two batches, to keep the bubbles fresh. Add half of the base with one bottle of the sparkling wine and half the seltzer, and repeat when your guests have drained the bowl.