Friday, March 18, 2011

united service punch

1 1/4 quart Hot, Strong Tea (5 oz Oolong)
1 pound Sugar (2 oz)
6 Lemons, Juiced (3/4 Lemon, 1 1/2 oz Juice)
1 pint Arrack (2 oz Batavia Arrack)
1 pint Port (2 oz Sandeman Tawny)

Rub off peels of lemons on loaf sugar (instead I made an oleo saccharum with 3/4 of a lemon peel in the sugar). Warm up and serve. The scaled down recipe makes 2 servings instead of 16.

Last Friday, with the end of Hot Toddy season in sight, I decided to make the United Service Punch from William Schmidt's The Flowing Bowl. I preferred that recipe to a similar one in Jerry Thomas' Bon Vivant's Companion for the latter one lacked the extra flavors from the port. What Thomas' recipe did include was lemon oil, so I borrowed that and merged it with the rest of Schmidt's recipe. David Wondrich in Punch provided a history that the recipe was created at London's United Service Club that was formed in 1816 after the Napoleonic and Revolutionary wars were over. The club was created to bring officers of the British army and navy together where they bonded over bowls of punch such as this one.
The punch's steamy aroma presented bright lemon notes from the oleo saccharum and juice and boozy heat and funkiness from the Batavia Arrack. The lemon continued on in the flavor where it mingled with the port in the sip and with the tea and Batavia Arrack on the swallow. The balance ended up a little on the tart and tannic side but overall, it was quite drinkable. Perhaps, I should have used less lemon juice to mimic the smaller size of 19th century citrus fruits, but often old punch recipes end up on the sweet side, so I did not take that into consideration on the first pass.


erik.ellestad said...

Cool, I didn't know this punch recipe originally came from Schmidt! I really should buy a non-collectible copy of that book, so I don't feel bad about bending the pages...

frederic said...

I think the Jerry Thomas one pre-dates it. And there are some affordable reprints of the book on Amazon.