Charles River Punch

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Quite a few months ago I got three free liters of wray and nephews over proof rum which is quite exciting for me (I may be the largest non jamaican consumer of the product in the country). I wanted to recreate and enhance a rum punch I made with lemonheart 151 two punch seasons ago that was quite successful. The old cocktail books contain many recipes for punch, some of which were reported to live quite a long time in the cellar. The old punches contained a lot of sugar and on paper look more like bottled tropical cocktails. The aim of my recipe is to create something quite flavorful and complex with minimal sugar that weighs in at 70 or so proof. Punches of the style I want to make are essentially high proof fruit juice preserves with a botanical here and there.

rum punch

3 liters of wray and nephews 126

2 oz. by weight of black tea with ginseng infused in the rum for 1.5 hours

6 oz. by volume of fresh squeezed lime juice (juice of six limes)

3 large satsuma orange leaves (left over from new years eve tasting menu)

2 oz. bergamot tincture (thin peel of two bergamots canned in a cup of pierre ferrand amber)

2 liters of pineapple pulp (well strained from beautiful january pineapples)

The recipe was assembled sometime at the end of january and the whole batch saw a simple straining through cloth at the beginning of april when most of the fine pineapple pulp had clumped and came out easily. Clay bentonite was then added to try and make the really fine sediment easy to rack off. It is now the middle of may and I’m bottling it in champagne bottles and I’m not so impressed with the bentonite. The bentonite did not exactly glue itself to the bottom of the carboy but rather floated up as soon as I started to rack so I strained the liquid through cloth again which seemed to do an excellent job.

The punch tastes very complex and has characteristics like an old wine. The funky higher alcohol character of the rum expresses itself well through the oxidized and mature tasting pineapple. It is very hard to believed the punch is 35% plus in alcohol because of the smoothness. Black tea is a very traditional punch ingredient and is really hard to pick out within the dram which may be a good thing. I think the tea flavor probably integrates into the mature pineapple creating that old white wine character. Since bergamot may be the only contrast (and subtly expressed) to the fruit of the punch another contrast may be nice in next years batch. Maybe some mace and nutmeg.

This stuff being a really sophisticated spirit (and in limited quantities) I’m only drinking mine straight or with sweet or dry vermouth. One of my favorite regulars who is a great patron of the drinking arts really enjoyed the punch with stock sweet vermouth and reagan’s orange bitters.

2 oz. charles river punch

1 oz. stock sweet vermouth

2 dashes reagan’s orange bitters

stir with adequate ice. add a citrus peel for top notes.

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