Lesson Two: Recipes

Chapter Twelve: Serving the People, aka A Bowl of Punch

Supporting Cast:
Scorpion Bowl

A Bowl of Punch

Punch was the first mixed drink with liquor to gain worldwide popularity. This occurred in the 1600s, when Europeans—Englishmen, mostly—spread to all points of the compass a concoction they had either “discovered” in South Asia or created there from local ingredients; it was particularly popular in the North American colonies. A relatively simple mixture of booze, water, sugar, lime or lemon juice, and spices (which could mean just about anything), Punch was refreshing, festive, and very, very potent. Seeing as, before Punch, liquor was mostly consumed straight or mixed into beer or wine as a stiffening agent, this had to be an improvement.

Over the centuries, Punch lost its original simplicity as more and more variations sprouted up and more and more ingredients were deemed acceptable to be included in it. Eventually, it became a catchall term for anything in a large bowl with some fruit or fruit flavoring. All well and good, but to taste the original recipe is to understand that change is not always a good thing. Relatively easy to make, a Bowl of Punch has the further advantages of being dry, complex in flavor, and extremely addictive. It’s strong, too. Serves 16.

6 or 7 large lemons
1/2 pound raw sugar
4 tea bags (black or green tea—anything but herbal)
16 ounces decent-quality cognac
16 ounces Wray & Nephew White Overproof rum, or other pungent rum such as Sea Wynde, El Dorado, or Pusser’s
To finish: freshly grated nutmeg

Peel 2 of the lemons, making sure to include as little of the white pith as possible. Heat the sugar in a large saucepan over a low flame with 1 quart water, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, add the lemon peels and tea bags, let the mixture steep for five minutes, and then remove the tea bags, pressing them to extract as much of the tea-and-sugar solution as you can.

Now juice all the lemons (peeled and unpeeled), passing the juice through a fine-meshed strainer. You should have 8 ounces of juice (if not, get more lemons). Add this to the tea-and-sugar mixture. Stir in the cognac and rum. Place the Punch in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. To serve, pour the Punch into a punchbowl, add as large a block of ice as you have been able to procure or produce, grate half a nutmeg over the top.

Scorpion Bowl

Nothing shouts out “tiki!” like a Scorpion Bowl. The formula for this Trader Vic creation from the 1940s went through several revisions—okay, dumbings-down—over the years. The original recipe was still the best, though. It used to come in this ceramic thing with topless Tahitian girls for feet and a gardenia floating in it. It served four; you, your best friend, and your dates would poke straws into it and sip yourselves into romance. And all for $2.50. This party version serves at least 20.

36 ounces white Cuban-style rum
2 ounces gin
2 ounces cognac
12 ounces dry white wine
16 ounces lemon juice
8 ounces orange juice
8 ounces orgeat syrup, or less to taste
2 sprigs of mint

To assemble, fill a punchbowl with cracked or crushed ice, pour everything over it and let it stand in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Add a big block of ice, poke a gardenia or two in, and let the games begin. Note: the gin and cognac may be replaced by 4 ounces pisco—the Trader made it that way, too.

So that’s it, or at least that’s a lot of it. In Lesson Eight Advanced Mixology we will abuse your brain with lots more recipes, maybe even a few complications. But, honestly, if a drink includes more than six ingredients, that’s not advanced mixology, that’s advanced calculus. With all due to respect to the brilliant men and women who are doing so much to elevate the craft of bartending, some people just take it too far. Us, we just want a drink and if it’s going to take ten minutes to make it, please drop a beer off so we can wet our whistles in preparation for the cheers and applause we are planning to shower on you, when the drink arrives. Tick tick tick tick.

Pisco Punch

Ryan Demonstrates How To Make a Pisco Punch.

Pisco Punch
This drink requires some prep time:
Cut up one pineapple into chunks and soak in gum syrup over night
Next day put the following into a separate punch bowl:
3-4 whole lemon rinds
6 oz sugar
Muddle thoroughly until it is a sticky syrup
Let set for two hours
Add 1 bottle of Pisco
22 oz of water
10 oz of the pineapple gum syrup
10 oz lemon juice
Large block of ice

Reproduced from “Killer Cocktails” by David Wondrich.

Now Click on the “Lesson Three – Distillation” button below to continue your lessons on how alcohol beverages are made.