Not that long ago, we wrote about making a single cup of hot rum punch. This week, since we made a big batch for our little cocktail party, we’re going to explain how to make an entire bowl of the stuff. It’s pretty much the single best thing you can make for a winter party. – Andrew
Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper
Traditional Hot Rum Punch
1 Bottle Pot-Stilled Rum
12 oz Raw Sugar
Nutmeg and Cinnamon to Taste
Peel the lemons into thin strips, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith. Muddle the sugar and the lemon peels to extract the lemon oil and let sit for at least an hour. (I left the sugar and peels in a sealed ziplock bag in the refrigerator overnight.) Add 12 oz of boiling water to melt the sugar and remove the lemon peels with a slotted spoon, squeezing to extract as much sugar and oil as possible. The resulting liquid is, in classic punch parlance, your oleo-saccharum (“sugar oil”).
Juice the lemons and limes, then add the juice – about 12-14 oz – to the oleo-saccharum. This, again in classic punch parlance, is your sherbet. Pour the sherbet into your punch bowl and then add a full 750ml bottle of rum. (We used Pusser’s Navy Rum, a pot-distilled rum that replicates the rum served as rations in the British Navy until the 1970s. It’s funky and delicious but it is not at all subtle.) This is your punch, with just one last step: adding some hot water to heat things up and dilute the very strong punch a bit.
Right before you’re ready to serve, start adding boiling water to the bowl, a cup at a time, until you reach your preferred temperature and dilution. I added about six cups, but you can add as much or as little as you want. Garnish with some sliced lemons and limes, a few cinnamon sticks, and freshly grated nutmeg.
It’s hot – this will surprise a lot of people who have never had a hot drink before – which I love in a drink this time of year. It’s sweet and sour and rich and funky, thanks to that navy rum. And it’s big; although there’s a bit of work involved, you can do all of that before your party and have a single big drink you can serve to all your guests, leaving you free to enjoy your own party. A single bowl of punch also creates a single focal point at which people have to congregate (especially if you serve them in tiny punch cups, which you should, necessitating lots of return trips to the bowl and hence mingling).
I’ve never tried to figure out how many servings this make, but: it’s a lot. I’ve never run out of punch at a party, and typically have a bunch left over, enough to stick in a bottle and refrigerate to enjoy later.
Photos by Sweet Root Village for Oh So Beautiful Paper