Charles Dickens’ Punch

Charles Dickens sure liked his punch. It showed up in his novels and it showed up in his letters. Thank goodness it did, because one of them – his namesake punch – is delicious, pretty easy to make, and theatrically awesome. You set it on fire. Yes! Fire! (It’s a lot of fun.) We highly recommend making up a batch of Charles Dickens’ Punch for the holidays – and for the many cold winter nights still to come. Andrew

Charles Dickens Punch Recipe by Liquorary

Charles Dickens’ Punch

Makes 12 servings

16 oz Rum
10 oz Brandy
6 oz Raw Sugar
3 Lemons
5 cups Hot Black Tea

With a sharp knife or vegetable peeler, thinly peel the lemons, avoiding the bitter white pith, then juice the lemons and set the juice aside. Combine the rum, brandy, sugar, and lemon peels in a heat proof bowl or an enameled cast iron pot. Pick up a spoonful of the liquid with a heatproof spoon – stainless steel is best – and light the spoonful on fire with a match. Lower the lit spoon to the pot, lighting the whole thing on fire. Let it burn for three minutes, stirring periodically, then extinguish the fire by covering the bowl. Then add the hot tea and lemon juice, and remove the lemon peels with a slotted spoon. Ladle into cups to serve while it’s still hot. If it cools, you can also serve over ice. Garnish as you see fit: citrus wheels, freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and fresh herbs and spices all work. Enjoy!

Charles Dickens Punch Recipe by Liquorary

This is actually a pretty easy punch to make, as long as you’re good at not setting yourself on fire. Some of the traditional punches we’ve featured have been pretty labor intensive – remember the milk punch that takes two to three days to make? This one takes a fraction of the time. The heat from the fire both melts the sugar and extracts the oils from the lemon peels in minutes, instead of the usual hours or days.

Charles Dickens Punch Recipe by Liquorary

The result is a really flavorful punch, with a mellow foundation and a punch of citrus. You can make this punch with hot water instead of tea, but we like to go with a black tea – or even a chai – to add some complex spiciness.

And it’s so dramatic! This is a good one to impress a party. But be careful! Alcohol makes a cool, dim blue flame (it helps to dim the lights so you can see the full light show), but as cool as it is, it’s still flame and it will still hurt if you spill it on yourself.

Charles Dickens Punch Recipe by Liquorary

Lighting booze on fire can actually be a bit tricky. Most liquor is bottled at 80 proof, 40% alcohol by volume, and liquor at this proof doesn’t like to light at room temperature. If you’re using liquor at this proof, you’ll need to warm it up first – stick it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds before you try to light it, which will warm it and release alcohol vapor that will help with lighting. As it burns, you’ll lose alcohol content, so you’ll also end up with a lower-proof punch. Or, you can use an overproof rum, something like Hamilton 151, in your mix. Adding some higher proof rum should allow you to light the punch without heating it first.

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Glassware by Liquorary

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Benjamin Franklin’s Clarified Milk Punch

Milk Punch? Yes: milk punch. Back in the good old days – the 1700s – drinkers loved mixing their booze with their milk. There’s probably something in Leviticus about not doing that, but they did it anyway. We still have a few holdovers from those days, like eggnog. (Real eggnog, with brandy and rum.) Thick and rich and creamy, we usually save those for the holidays. But there’s a whole other way of making milk punch that sounds super gross and takes days to make and is super messy but is so, so worth it. Clarified milk punch is crystal clear, intensely flavorful, and silky smooth. So read below to learn how to make Benjamin Franklin’s very own clarified milk punch recipe at home. Andrew

Clarified Milk Punch Recipe

Benjamin Franklin’s Clarified Milk Punch Recipe

Makes 40 Servings

3 cups Brandy
3 cups Aged Rum
2 cups Lemon Juice
4 cups Filtered Water
1 1/2 cups Sugar
3 cups Whole Milk
11 Lemons
1 Whole Nutmeg
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Star Anise Pod

Day One: thinly peel the lemons with a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler, taking care to avoid the bitter white pith. Combine the peels with the brandy and rum in a jar and let it sit for 24 hours. Juice the lemons (and run the rinds through the garbage disposal; they’ll make it smell nice). You’ll have more than you need for the punch, so save the rest for other cocktails.

Day Two: strain the peels out of the brandy and rum. (Citrus peels will turn spirits very bitter if they infuse for too long.) Add the lemon juice and sugar to the brandy and rum and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Grate the nutmeg and break up the cinnamon stick and star anise into the mix. Then, bring the milk to a boil in a big pot. As soon as it is boiling, add the spirits and lemon juice mixture. Stir a bit to melt any remaining sugar. Turn off the heat and watch the milk curdle into a big, gross mess. Let it sit, covered, for at least two hours.

Then, using lots of cheese cloth (or, as in Ben’s original recipe, a Jelly-bag, whatever that was), strain the milk solids out of the punch. Working in small batches, run the punch through the cheesecloth, which will clog up quickly. Change out the cheesecloth frequently, taking time to squeeze out as much liquid as you can from each batch.

What’s left will still be pretty cloudy, so you can handle the next step a couple of ways: you can let it sit overnight so the solids settle to the bottom and then carefully decant the punch into another container, or you can do what we did: strain everything painstakingly through a coffee filter. We used our Chemex coffee maker. It takes forever, but what comes out will be crystal clear and you won’t lose any liquid in the dregs.

Clarified Milk Punch Recipe

Got all that? If you’ve made it this far, and survived the curdling, then you’ll be left with a crystal clear, amber-hued liquid of sublime flavor and texture. Clarified milk punch is dark and smooth, with layers of citrus and hints of spice. It’s also silky and smooth in a way that no other drink is. By letting the lemons’ acidity curdle the milk solids, you’re really just using the whey – sugar, in the form of lactose; proteins; and almost no fat. The result is an unctuousness that’s surprising the first time you try it.

Clarified Milk Punch Recipe

This is definitely an old drink. Even people who have enjoyed classic cocktails before will probably be surprised by clarified milk punch. And not just its texture: this punch almost seems like a showcase for citrus, with all the lemon juice and lemon oil in there, and exotic (at the time) spices. Which makes sense: in the 1700s, citrus was a fairly rare treat. And spending two or three days making a single punch will definitely remind you of how different life was back then, when people actually had time to make and enjoy a bowl of punch like this. So it’s odd. Delicious, but odd.

Clarified Milk Punch Recipe

Some logistics. This recipe makes about a gallon, so be prepared with a large bowl and some thirsty mouths to help you drink this down. (And this is a short version of Ben Franklin’s original, which made about four gallons and used 44 lemons (!!). Serve it over ice; if you’re serving from a bowl, put the biggest block of ice you can fit into the bowl. No need for a garnish, since it has all that spice and lemon oil in it, but it won’t hurt if you want to make it pretty. And because it’s clarified, it will keep in the fridge, so keep some swing bottles handy to save any leftovers.

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Glassware by Liquorary

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Planter’s Punch: A Tiki Bowl Rum Punch

After several decades, punches are finally making their way back into cocktail fashion. Two hundred years ago, Americans would spend an evening sitting around a punch bowl, slowly drinking it down in convivial company. The Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect excuse to mix up a big bowl of punch, so before we all go running off for the holiday we wanted to share a Tiki spin on a classic rum punch. Enter the Tiki Bowl! Popular during Tiki’s golden age and a feature of the Tiki Revival, Tiki Bowls straddle the line between cocktail and punch, combining the simplicity of batching up a cocktail with the social aspect of a punch bowl. So this week, we’re drinking a big bowl of Planter’s Punch! Andrew

Planter's Punch Tiki Bowl Rum Punch Recipe

Planter’s Punch

8 oz Jamaican Rum
8 oz Demerara Rum 
8 oz Lime Juice
4 oz Grenadine 
4 oz Honey-Pineapple Syrup
2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
16 dashes Angostura Bitters

To make the honey-pineapple syrup: combine equal parts honey and pineapple juice in a sauce pan over low heat. Stir frequently until the honey is melted into the pineapple just. Bottle and refrigerate.

To make the cinnamon syrup: break up two cinnamon sticks into bits with a muddler in a sauce pan, then add a cup of sugar and a cup of water. Melt the sugar into the water over low heat, stirring frequently until all the sugar is dissolved. Cover and remove from the heat; let the pan sit for at least twenty minutes. Strain through a sieve, bottle, and refrigerate.

Combine everything in a punch or Tiki bowl with 8 ounces of cold water and give it a stir. Add ice and garnish with mint and, if it suits your fancy, a flaming lime shell. Ladle into cups to serve or, better, drop in some straws and enjoy together. Makes about 8 servings.

Planter's Punch Tiki Bowl Rum Punch Recipe

Planter's Punch Tiki Bowl Rum Punch Recipe

Planter's Punch Tiki Bowl Rum Punch Recipe

Planter's Punch Tiki Bowl Rum Punch Recipe

Planter’s Punch has its roots in Jamaica, from which it spread throughout the Caribbean and to America through Charleston. There’s no authoritative recipe, and variations run the gamut – rum and lime and sugar in all of them; grenadine in many but not all; orange juice in a few; you get the idea. It’s more of an idea of tropical refreshment, a reference point for tweaking and experimenting. We went with grenadine, which adds a dark tartness; pineapple for tropical fruitiness; and honey for rich, earthy sweetness. Between the grenadine and pineapple and lime, this turns out pretty tart, so we added just a touch of cinnamon syrup to balance it out. This Planter’s Punch is rich and tropical and just a bit spicy.

Planter's Punch Tiki Bowl Rum Punch Recipe

Ice is key to a cold punch; you want to make the biggest block of ice you can fit into your freezer (and your punch bowl) to cool your punch without melting and diluting your punch too quickly. Cake pans are handy for this; we used a Bundt pan to make our big block of ice. We filled ours with lemon and lime slices, but you can freeze all sorts of garnishes into your ice, which both look great and add flavor as the ice melts – fruit, herbs, whatever suits your fancy. Lay your garnishes in the bottom of the cake pan, then fill the cake pan with crushed ice and, finally, top with water before you put it in the freezer. The crushed ice will keep your garnishes in place as the ice block freezes up.

Planter's Punch Tiki Bowl Rum Punch Recipe

Planter's Punch Tiki Bowl Rum Punch Recipe

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Glassware by Liquorary

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Fish House Punch

We’re going to spend some time over the next month or so exploring the big flowing bowl: punches! We’ve featured a few punches before, but we’re going to try to tackle what really makes a punch a success and some of the ways to tweak punches to suit your needs. We’re starting with a spin on a rum punch recipe with the ridiculously named Fish House Punch. Andrew

Rum Punch Recipe: Fish House Punch by Liquorary for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Fish House Punch

8 oz Jamaican Rum
4 oz Brandy
4 oz Lime Juice
4 oz Preserved Lemon Syrup
1 oz Apricot Brandy

8 oz Chamomile Tea

Combine everything in a swing bottle and refrigerate overnight. To serve, pour over ice into tiny cups and enjoy! Makes about fourteen two-ounce servings.

This is a heady, rich, boozy punch. (Feel free to dilute it with water or more tea if it’s a little too, ahem, punchy.) There’s a lot going on in this punch, sweet and sours and fruity and funky and spicy, and it’s a great showcase for punch’s ability to incorporate lots of flavors – when you’re working with a big batch, you can start to incorporate small amounts of ingredients, like the apricot, to add subtle notes to each glass.

Rum Punch Recipe: Fish House Punch by Liquorary for Oh So Beautiful Paper

We made this punch a little smaller than usual for a couple of reasons. First, I was testing out the recipe and didn’t want to mix up a giant bowl, with the risk that a bad recipe would result in a giant bowl of undrinkable punch and several wasted bottles of perfectly good liquor. Second, not every punch needs to be huge. Sometimes, you just want to share a few drinks between friends, or maybe you’re having a party where you want punch but still want some variety. Making it like this gives you flexibility – and it’s a lot easier to transport a bit of punch in a large swing bottle than a whole huge bowl.

Rum Punch Recipe: Fish House Punch by Liquorary for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Rum Punch Recipe: Fish House Punch by Liquorary for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Fish House Punch dates all the way back to the 1730s, when a Philadelphia club, known as the State in Schuylkill Fishing Corporation, set up shop and came up with a signature punch. America, or at least its men, used to be much more fond of these clubs and, with them, drinking huge amounts of punch. Progress does not always make things better. This isn’t the original recipe – we’ve added the chamomile, for example, for an added element of spicy complexity, and replaced the now-unavailable peach brandy with some apricot eau-de-vie – but I don’t think anyone from the State in Schuylkill Fishing Corporation would mind the innovation.

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Glassware by Liquorary

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

An IPA Jungle Bird

Ok folks, one more beer cocktail before we switch to our next big project: punches! So far, we’ve been adding beer by topping off our drinks with some suds. This gives our drinks some fizz, some extra body, and all those bitter or spicy or fruity flavors that come with the beer. But what if you want those flavors without all the fizz? Just turn some beer into a syrup! We took a bitter, floral IPA and turned into a syrup to use in an unexpected place: a Tiki drink, the Jungle Bird.Andrew

Tiki Cocktail Recipes: The Jungle Bird / Liquorary for Oh So Beautiful Paper

An IPA Jungle Bird

2 oz Jamaican Rum
3/4 oz IPA Syrup
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice

To make the IPA syrup: add 8 ounces of IPA and 8 ounces of sugar to a saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently until the sugar has completely melted, then remove from the heat. Strain into a bottle and refrigerate.

To make the IPA Jungle Bird: combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled two-thirds with ice. Shake gently to incorporate, then strain into a tumbler glass filled with fresh crushed ice. Garnish whimsically and enjoy!

Tiki Cocktail Recipes: The Jungle Bird / Liquorary for Oh So Beautiful Paper

The Jungle Bird is a relative newcomer in the world of Tiki, probably invented in the 1970s at a bar in Malaysia. It pairs dark rum with fruity pineapple and Campari, the intensely bitter Italian liqueur. It’s a dark, rich, intense Tiki drink. We lightened it up a bit by replacing the Campari with our IPA syrup. IPAs–India Pale Ales–are loaded with hops, which give the beer bitterness, along with lots of other flavors. Hops can be piney, floral, citrusy, or even fruity. So we retain some of the original’s bitterness and replaced some of those herbaceous Campari notes with the IPA’s complex flavors.

The result is a light, fruity Tiki drink, with lots of funkiness from the Jamaican rum up front, followed with tropical pineapple and just a bit of complex bitterness from the IPA. It’s tremendously refreshing!

Tiki Cocktail Recipes: The Jungle Bird / Liquorary for Oh So Beautiful Paper

And remember: the whole point of Tiki is to be a little ridiculous, a little over the top, so we came up with a pretty ridiculous garnish to go with our IPA Jungle Bird. Some fresh pineapple, some cloves for eyes, and some pineapple fronds give us our very own Tiki jungle bird. Go wild.

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Glassware by Liquorary

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper