Saturday, December 20, 2008

xalapa punch

When our friend Matt took us up on the offer to borrow one our punch bowls for his party, he asked if I wanted to pick a recipe. After looking online and in our book collection, the Xalapa Punch caught my eye. Unlike many of the punches with a rich history surrounding them, the Xalapa's was elusive and I could not even confirm that it was created in the city in Mexico. The oldest reference I could find was in The Blue Grass Cook Book from 1904 (available as a pdf download here): [1]
Matt wanted to do a trial run of the punch. I made a 4 cup version of a more modern recipe. Most of the newer recipes call for grated orange peels instead of lemon. Matt approved.

Shortly after that, I bought David Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks and decided to use his version of the recipe:
Xalapa Punch
• 2 1/2 quarts strong black tea
• 1 pint simple syrup
• grated peel of 2 lemons
• 1 bottle applejack
• 1 bottle rum
• 1 bottle dry red wine
• 1 lemon sliced thin
Pour the hot tea over the lemon peel and allow to stand 10 to 15 minutes. Add the sugar syrup and stir thoroughly. Cool, add the liquors and wine, and let stand an hour or more to ripen. Pour over ice in Punch bowl and add lemon slices just before serving.
A day before the party, I made the lemon-rind infused tea (Oolong) and simple syrup (1:1) and stored it in the refrigerator overnight. I left the liquor and wine choices up to Matt. He went with Laird's Applejack, Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, and Casillero del Diablo Merlot, and he had them stored in the freezer (liquors) and fridge (wine) as requested.
The end product was a delightful lemon-flavored tea and sangria hybrid which the guests seemed to enjoy a lot. The punch was not overly boozy-tasting but still packed some heat at around 13% alcohol. The lemon flavor was a lot more subtle than the orange in the trial batch which could either be due to the quantity of oils in the citrus I purchased, how the flavors work with the punch, or the wine choice. The Casillero del Diablo was a lot more robust than the small bottle of Sutter Home we used in the trial, so it played a more dominant role in the flavor profile. Perhaps a low end Calvados (like the $20 Morin) would have added more apple flavor than the applejack did especially against the wine.

[1] A little research after the fact points that there is a famous horse stable, Xalapa Farm, in Kentucky which would explain the Blue Grass Cookbook connection and favor it over a Mexican one.

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