Saturday, August 28, 2010

parker house punch

1 1/2 oz New England Rum (Thomas Tew)
1/2 oz Brandy (Pedro Domecq Fundador Solera Reserva)
3/4 oz Cold Tea (Oolong)
1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup (Gomme)

Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass or punch cup filled with shaved ice. Add a dash of soda water, a slice of orange, a slice of lemon, and a cherry. Our punch cups would be too small for these volumes so we subbed a rocks glass.

Ted Saucier's Bottom's Up captures an old Boston recipe, the Parker House Punch. While the Parker House, which still exists as the Omni Parker near the Granary Burial Ground, developed this punch, the hotel is better known for creating the Boston Cream Pie and coining the word "scrod." In fact, the only other reference I could find for this punch is in the Robert E. Sherwood 1940 book There Shall Be No Night where it gets mentioned a few times. Obviously, the recipe had a big impact on Sherwood and enough of an effect on Saucier to add it to his 1951 book. One problem that separates people from easily making this recipe is that New England Rum (as a style) is no longer made. Adam Mechanic recommended that we try Thomas Tew Rum made by the Newport Storm Brewery and Distillery. Thomas Tew is a pot stilled rum named after a 17th century Rhode Island privateer, and while not claiming to be a New England Rum, it is closer to the style than not. Unfortunately, Thomas Tew cannot be found much outside of Rhode Island, so we were forced to make an unscheduled antiques run down to Warren, RI, and get a bottle (along with a bottle of Everclear for infusions).
The rum contributed barrel aged and light molasses notes to the nose of the Parker House Punch along with the aroma of the tea and lemon. The lemon-sugar sour flavor on the front of the sip was balanced by the tannins and flavor of the tea on the swallow. Moreover, the Thomas Tew Rum added a good amount of richness to the drink (along with the Spanish brandy), and the rum was notable on the aftertaste as a pleasing pungency. Overall, the Parker House Punch was a pretty solid single serving punch that could easily be scaled up to punch bowl quantities. A rich rum like Appleton, Lemon Hart, or Coruba would make an adequate substitution.

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