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Buying, Making & Using Swedish Punsch


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#1 lancastermike

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 03:53 PM

In his book Ted Haig gives a web address to order this. When I try to process the order it refuses to do so for customs reasons. Anyone have any other ideas. Other than a trip Stockholm?

#2 trcroyle

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 04:01 PM

In his book Ted Haig gives a web address to order this. When I try to process the order it refuses to do so for customs reasons.  Anyone have any other ideas.  Other than a trip Stockholm?

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I found this recipe at United Service Punch

2 pints hot tea
3/4 lb. sugar
8 lemons
1 pint arrack

Dissolve, in two pints of hot tea, three quarters of a pound of loaf sugar, having previously rubbed off, with a portion of the sugar, the peel of four lemons; then add the juice of eight lemons, and a pint of arrack.

From Bon Vivant's Companion by Jerry Thomas, 1862

They recommend zesting the lemons (since the recipe instructions assume load sugar) and steeping it all for a few days. These are the basic ingredients for Swedish Punsch and it sounds plenty sweet enough to be right. Anyone with an actual imported bottle want to try it and compare?

#3 eje

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 05:11 PM

I'd give it a try; but, I think Arrack is even harder to find than Swedish Punsch!

:raz:

Maybe substitute a rum agricole or cachaca?
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#4 Friend of the Farmer

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 07:45 PM

I did see the Punch variations at Stockholm airport duty-free a few weeks ago - too bad you didn't post sooner!

If you're interested in other Scandanavian drinks, do a search for glögg or glöggi, the Finnish winter mulled wine, which is made principally with wine and spices (also served with currents and almond slivers). Quite the celebrated drink in a winterland where the sun barely rises above the pines, and for that only a few hours.

#5 lancastermike

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 12:34 PM

Thanks for bumping this back up, but I still can't find it.

#6 Danne

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 03:03 PM

I'm sorry for bringing up an old thread.

But, I'm from Sweden, I can send you a bottle if you really want it.
A 200 ml bottle costs 67 SEK and a 500 ml bottle costs 142 SEK.
http://www.systembol...=0&SokStrangar=

I don't know about the shipping but i can have a look if you want to. Just tell me where I can find you.

If any one finds anything they like on that that site ( www.systembolaget.se ) and you can´t get a hold of it, just tell me and I'll see what i can do.

#7 Snowy is dead

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 06:37 AM

arrack is availiable in massachusetts still. or at least they have a bunch near me

Edited by Snowy is dead, 06 July 2006 - 06:37 AM.


#8 ned

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 11:44 AM

I bought Arrack (Arak?) in New Jersey. Pretty sure I've seen it in NYC also. The Punsch I saw and tasted at Zig Zag in Seattle but I don't know how they got it.

Edited by ned, 06 July 2006 - 11:45 AM.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

#9 eje

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 02:12 PM

Arak isn't Arrack.

Arak (raki) is a middle eastern liquor flavored with anise. It is similar to Ouzo.

(Batavia) Arrack is a liquor originally made from distilled Palm Wine in the East (India, Sri Lanka...) Many times today a combination of fermented sugar cane and/or fermented rice are used to make Arrack. From what I've read, much of it is produced illegally and pretty nasty.

My idea from the above recipe:

1 cup Cachaca
zest of 4 lemons
1 cup hot black tea
1 cup palm sugar

Infuse Cachaca with lemon zest for a week or two and strain. Dissolve palm sugar in hot tea. Combine sweetened tea and flavored Cachaca, age for a week or two, filter and bottle.

Opinions?
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#10 lancastermike

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 05:21 PM

Arak isn't Arrack.

Arak (raki) is a middle eastern liquor flavored with anise.  It is similar to Ouzo.

(Batavia) Arrack is a liquor originally made from distilled Palm Wine in the East (India, Sri Lanka...)  Many times today a combination of fermented sugar cane and/or fermented rice are used to make Arrack.  From what I've read, much of it is produced illegally and pretty nasty.

My idea from the above recipe:

1 cup Cachaca
zest of 4 lemons
1 cup hot black tea
1 cup palm sugar

Infuse Cachaca with lemon zest for a week or two and strain.  Dissolve palm sugar in hot tea.  Combine sweetened tea and flavored Cachaca, age for a week or two, filter and bottle.

Opinions?

View Post


Sounds good and also easy. The only thing is, I have no idea what it is supposed to taste like.

#11 eje

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 06:39 PM

Sounds good and also easy.  The only thing is, I have no idea what it is supposed to taste like.

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My problem, too.

When will they get that internet taste archive going?
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#12 Snowy is dead

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 10:19 AM

Arak isn't Arrack.

Arak (raki) is a middle eastern liquor flavored with anise. It is similar to Ouzo.

That explains that. It shares the shelf space with ouzo.

#13 eje

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Posted 04 October 2006 - 09:53 PM

re: Arrack

I was re-reading David Wondrich's incredibly informative, "A Brief History of Punch," in Mixologist Volume 1, and ran across this footnote.

Arrack came in three main kinds, "Goa Arrack" or "Columbo Arrack" was distilled in southern India and Ceylon from palm-sap, "Bengal Arrack" in northern India from sugarcane, and "Batavia Arrack" in the Dutch colony of that name--present day Jakarta--and other parts of Indonesia and the Philippines...Originally made exclusively from rice...At some point in the seventeenth century, the Batavia Chinese took a leaf from the Bengalis and began making Arrack from sugarcane, although they retained the traditional Chinese technique of jump-starting fermentation with little cakes of moldy red rice.


In addition in Stanley Clisby Arthur's "Famous New Orleans Drinks & How to Mix 'Em", I find the following information from his writeup of the Arrack Punch recipe.

Arrack is the fermented juice of the date palm, and is a name that was applied in Eastern countries to any spiritous liquor of native manufacture, especially ones distilled from the fermented sap of the coco-palm, or from rice and sugar fermented with cocoanut juice.  Later the arrack imported from Batavia and Japan was considered superior in concocting the punch, at which time the name arrack was shortened to "Rack".


These two quotes lead me to wonder if the most appropriate substitution for Arrack might not be some decent Japanese Shochu or even Chinese liquors started with "Red Starter". Perhaps a trip to one of the many Asian Grocery stores in the area is in order. Who knows, they might even have Indonesian Arrack. Though, given what I've heard about the flavor of Chinese rice wine and liquor, it is probably no wonder it was heavily adulterated before being consumed.

Some nice wiki pages:

Chinese Wine
Chinese Distilled Beverages

edit - typos

Edited by eje, 04 October 2006 - 09:56 PM.

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Erik Ellestad
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#14 ThinkingBartender

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Posted 04 October 2006 - 11:22 PM

Erik,

I recommend looking through Google Books for old information on Arrack. There are a few old definitions of Arrack.

In some old newspaper cuttings, it seems that Arrack from Goa was highly thought of by the British. And one would assume that it was the original Arrack to be used in Punch.

Batavian (Jakartan) Arrack may have taken over in the US, from Goan Arrack, for reasons other than taste, but do you know specifically?



Cheers!

George S.


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#15 Splificator

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 07:24 AM

These two quotes lead me to wonder if the most appropriate substitution for Arrack might not be some decent Japanese Shochu or even Chinese liquors started with "Red Starter".  Perhaps a trip to one of the many Asian Grocery stores in the  area is in order.  Who knows, they might even have Indonesian Arrack.  Though, given what I've heard about the flavor of Chinese rice wine and liquor, it is probably no wonder it was heavily adulterated before being consumed.

Having done some field research on Chinese distillates, I would recommend NOT trying this. First off, the flavors are completely different; the only thing Batavia arrack and Chinese distillates share is the uniquely volatile and permeating nature of their aromas. But the Indonesial (Batavia) arracks I've tried are really rums, albeit funky ones. The best substitute I know is the Wray & Nephew white overproof rum from Jamaica. The Chinese liquors I've tried are emphatically not rums, and are indeed an acquired taste (and that's putting it politely). They're the limburgers and Epoisses of the spirits world.

An excellent article is Lars Frederickson's "The Liquor from Luzhou and the Secret of the Earth Cellar"; I'd give a link but right now the only thing that's working is Google's cache of it.

And George--
I think the Goan (coconut sap or "toddy") arrack was indeed the original kind used for Punch, but by the 19th century it seems to have fallen out of favor; at any rate, I've only found one reference to it being imported to the US, as against many for Batavia arrack. One possible reason is that it was (and still is, judging from the Sri Lankan variety) much weaker than the Batavia kind, and hence needed to be used in large quantities. Since shipping costs made arrack the most expensive of liquors, this would have Batavia arrack, which was--and is--potent enough that only a little will flavor a punch, a much more attractive proposition.
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#16 ThinkingBartender

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 08:19 AM

I think the Goan (coconut sap or "toddy") arrack was indeed the original kind used for Punch, but by the 19th century it seems to have fallen out of favor; at any rate, I've only found one reference to it being imported to the US, as against many for Batavia arrack. One possible reason is that it was (and still is, judging from the Sri Lankan variety) much weaker than the Batavia kind, and hence needed to be used in large quantities. Since shipping costs made arrack the most expensive of liquors, this would have Batavia arrack, which was--and is--potent enough that only a little will flavor a punch, a much more attractive proposition.

View Post



Is there any record of how the Batavians drank their Arrack? Was the Batavian Arrack straight-swapped for the Goan Arrack simply because of the shared name, or was it also consumed in a punch type beverage?

Which country was the colonial master of Indonesia at the time? was it the Dutch? Could an anti-English colonial product embargo have been in place, if not officially then culturally?

Cheers!

George

Edited by ThinkingBartender, 05 October 2006 - 08:20 AM.


#17 eje

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 09:17 PM

The kindness of Canadian bartenders (Thanks Darcy!) has allowed me to come into possession of some Sri Lankan Arrack.

Posted Image

Posted Image

As Darcy O'Neil described on his website, The Art of Drink, Arrack is pretty odd tasting stuff. I was surprised it was as smooth as it is. I was expecting something much closer to Wray and Nephew White Overproof. I really don't know what to tell you it tastes like. Some of the flavors remind me more of whiskey than rum. Others are completely new to me in a distilled spirit.

I have attempted to turn it into something like Jerry Thomas' United Service Punch. Revisiting today, I seem accidentally to have crossed the United Service Punch and Imperial Arrack Punch recipes.

United Service Punch.
Take ½ pint of Arrack.
1 pint of Jamaica rum.
½ pound of loaf-sugar.
3 pints of hot tea.
6 lemons.

Rub off the peel of four of the lemons with some of the sugar. Dissolve the sugar in the tea; add the juice of all the lemons, and the Arrack. Serve cold.


Imperial Arrack Punch,
Take 1 quart of old Batavia Arrack.
6 lemons.
1 pound of loaf-sugar.
1 quart of boiling water.

Cut the lemons into thin slices, and steep them in the Arrack for six hours. Remove the lemons without squeezing them. Dissolve the sugar in the water, and add it while hot to the Arrack. Then let it cool. This makes a fine liqueur which should be thoroughly iced before serving.


I'm not sure about amounts for the liquids, since I have no idea what proof liquors Thomas might have been working with. I decided to shoot for something around 20% alcohol, since this seems to be where I see most Swedish Punsch listed.

Trying to halve the recipe above, I steeped 1 thinly sliced lemon in 1/4 pint Arrack and 1/2 pint Rum overnight.

Posted Image

I made a cup of darjeeling tea, dissolved a cup of demerara sugar in it, cooled to room temperature, (the reason to cool to room temp before chilling is tea tends to cloud if chilled too quickly,) and chilled overnight.

In the morning I strained the alcohol mixture (not squeezing) and combined it with the tea syrup.

12 hours later, I ran the barely aged liqueur through a filter and bottled. The result isn't a bad tasting liqueur. A bit odd, it must be admitted. Still, tasty.

Posted Image

No idea if it is remotely similar to real Swedish Punsch. But, that won't prevent me from making a Biffy Cocktail with it!
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#18 scheer

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 02:28 PM

Arak isn't Arrack.

Arak (raki) is a middle eastern liquor flavored with anise.  It is similar to Ouzo.

(Batavia) Arrack is a liquor originally made from distilled Palm Wine in the East (India, Sri Lanka...)  Many times today a combination of fermented sugar cane and/or fermented rice are used to make Arrack.  From what I've read, much of it is produced illegally and pretty nasty.

My idea from the above recipe:

1 cup Cachaca
zest of 4 lemons
1 cup hot black tea
1 cup palm sugar

Infuse Cachaca with lemon zest for a week or two and strain.  Dissolve palm sugar in hot tea.  Combine sweetened tea and flavored Cachaca, age for a week or two, filter and bottle.

Opinions?

View Post



Arrack = arak = Arrak but there is only 1 Batavia Arrack, which is also made from sugar cane molasses distilled in Indonesia. You can find other Arrack's in e.g. Sri Lanka or Lebanon. Raki is totally different. See also www.rum.nl

#19 eje

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 03:09 PM

Arrack = arak = Arrak but there is only 1 Batavia Arrack, which is also made from sugar cane molasses distilled in Indonesia. You can find other Arrack's in e.g. Sri Lanka or Lebanon. Raki is totally different. See also www.rum.nl

View Post

You're right and a bit wrong.

Apparently a word similar to "Arak" means something like "distilled wine" in Arabic and can be used to refer to any distilled spirit.

There is no connection, beyond both being distilled spirits, between Sri Lankan Arrack and Lebanese Arak.

Sri Lankan Arrack is distilled Palm Wine. That is to say, palm trees are tapped, the sap oozes out, it is allowed to ferment, and then it is distilled. The resulting alcohol is kind of similar to rum and/or tequila. Though, it is often made illegally in both Sri Lanka and parts of Africa, and may or may not involve 100% palm wine.

Lebenese Arak is usually (though not always) based on distilled grape wine and is most often flavored with anise seed, making it a bit similar to Ouzo and spirits like that.

Batavia Arrack is from Indonesia and based on sugarcane, making it a bit similar to rum. However, instead of yeast, a fermented red rice is used to start the fermentation of the cane, giving it a unique flavor and smell.

After posting the above, I did finally get to try some real Batavia Arrack and Swedish Punsch, and realize the punch I created had little to do with real Swedish Punsch.

On the other hand, it's closer to Swedish punsch than any other rum substitution I can think of.
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#20 bostonapothecary

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 03:33 PM

rum punch needs to be revisited....

i made a good one six months ago and upon rediscovering it found it aged really well.

to me rum punch is all about creating a new spirit with as much depth of flavor as you can before it turns into fruit mud. the flavors should be expressive rather than integrated and roll across your tongue.... think new zealand sauv. blanc. and not meursault.

you need to decide on a proof as well. alcohol supports and somewhat defines flavor so personally i like the high 70's or 80 proof. therefore you need to start with a 151. it basically comes down to lemon heart or wray and nephews. lemon heart is intimidating but in my last recipe i turned that black color into the most beautiful caramely amber.... acid also is a focus because it defines flavor. sugar more or less just carries it.... all attempts of making flavored vodka fail because acid is what defines most of the flavors and the vodkas don't really have any.... goose pear smells good because your nose doesn't need the acid but tastes horrible....

anyhow you gotta calculate mathematically how much volume of juices, tea, sugar, acid, etc. you can add to bring the rum down to your desired proof. don't quote me but i think a 750 of 151 comes down to the 70's after adding 2.2 cups or so.

my last one was infused with green tea, three limes for acid. pineapple jiuce from a fresh pineapple and the peel of some lemons (for citrus depth and maybe some pleaseant bitter...but seville orange peel would have been a better choice)

my next version is infused as well with powdered ginseng....

a couple things go in but alot comes out.

the old recipes are kinda lame. but teach lots of valuable lessons. tea is the greatest additive on earth....but don't over steap it...sometimes only 40 minutes will do the trick....cloves are potent but awsome....lemon seeds have beautiful flavor because they are mucilaginous....if you add sugar i'd use cubes and rub them along the lemon skins to soak up the oil but i wouldn't add the peel itself. i think today's lemons might have a different bitter than they used to....mint is cool but the flavor seems to deteriorate....

bury it all in your backyard.... get back to me in six months.... then i'll take one straigh up with orange bitters.... i'll bring some cigars.... = )
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#21 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 07:48 PM

This seems like as good an opportunity as any to re-ask: Is there still no online source for real Swedish Punsch?

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#22 eje

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 09:23 AM

I haven't had any luck trying to contact the folks at The Northerner, though, I've never tried phoning. I guess I'm not that excited about paying what I imagine will be exorbitant shipping charges, otherwise I would try harder.

I can tell you that Haus Alpenz, (importers of Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur and Lauria Alpine Cream,) are hoping to bring a Batavia Arrack into the US some time this year. If we're lucky, and the TTB is willing, we'll all be making our own Arrack Punsch soon...
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#23 slkinsey

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 09:36 AM

Erik, how do you mean "contacting the folks at The Northerner"? It looks like they're set up as a straight e-commerce site, and you should be able to order their Carlshamns Flaggpunsch Original online and have it shipped directly to you. When I did a dummy purchase they seemed to be charging around 14 bucks a bottle. So 35 bucks for a bottle of Swedish punsch isn't cheap, but it would be nice to have around.
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#24 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 09:42 AM

Erik, how do you mean "contacting the folks at The Northerner"?  It looks like they're set up as a straight e-commerce site, and you should be able to order their Carlshamns Flaggpunsch Original online and have it shipped directly to you.  When I did a dummy purchase they seemed to be charging around 14 bucks a bottle.  So 35 bucks for a bottle of Swedish punsch isn't cheap, but it would be nice to have around.

View Post


When I tried it a couple of months ago, it went through and I got a confirmation and it charged me and everything, but when I checked the status on my order (thinking it too good to be true) it said out of stock or something like that. When I sent a query as to when it would ship they came back saying that they cannot ship to the US for customs reasons, and my money was promptly refunded. What we need is a similar site in English without as much concience about smuggling. Evidently this site was working in 2004. As far as the cost goes, if I recall correctly, I ended up paying about $20-25/bottle when I ordered two (with shipping and everything). Expensive, but hardly exorbitant.

-Andy
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#25 eje

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 10:07 AM

Erik, how do you mean "contacting the folks at The Northerner"?  It looks like they're set up as a straight e-commerce site, and you should be able to order their Carlshamns Flaggpunsch Original online and have it shipped directly to you.  When I did a dummy purchase they seemed to be charging around 14 bucks a bottle.  So 35 bucks for a bottle of Swedish punsch isn't cheap, but it would be nice to have around.

View Post

Yes, you can add it to your basket.

However, when you try to go through the checkout process, the punsch will be removed from your basket, "due to customs reasons". Or at least that's what has happened the last few times I've tried.

I sent them enquiries using their online feedback system, and they've never replied.
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Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#26 lancastermike

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 12:37 PM

Erik, how do you mean "contacting the folks at The Northerner"?  It looks like they're set up as a straight e-commerce site, and you should be able to order their Carlshamns Flaggpunsch Original online and have it shipped directly to you.  When I did a dummy purchase they seemed to be charging around 14 bucks a bottle.  So 35 bucks for a bottle of Swedish punsch isn't cheap, but it would be nice to have around.

View Post

Yes, you can add it to your basket.

However, when you try to go through the checkout process, the punsch will be removed from your basket, "due to customs reasons". Or at least that's what has happened the last few times I've tried.

I sent them enquiries using their online feedback system, and they've never replied.

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What you describe is exactly my experience with them.

#27 eas

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 02:28 PM

If you are unable to buy the Swedish Punsch in your travels or somehow online, you'll find it's easy to make with the Batavia Arrack (once available). Most will mix the Arrack with rum, sugar, water and citrus. Some include spice(s); I prepare at home with cardamom.

If looking for more cocktails using the Swedish Punch, the Hollinger & Schwartz "Art of the Drink", published last winter has 2 or 3 cocktails well worth a try. I'm not sure which Punsch they used.

Arrack Punch is very much alive on the island of Bali, where it is mixed with some of the local exotic fruit juices.

#28 Danne

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 10:29 AM

Well, I've said before that I can send some punsch to the US but didn't succseed to do it I feel that i have to help you with some recepies.
First of all, I don't drink punsch but I've tried to find some stuff in swedish and translate it here.

1: (this is a HUGE recepie, you'll have to calculate for yourself)
55 liter arrak 60%
46 liter sprit 96% (plain alcohol)
78 kg socker (sugar)
157 liter vatten (warm water)
4 liter rhenvin (rhenwine)
kulör (some foodcolour)

2:
2.6 liter hett vatten (warm water)
0.66 liter arrak
2 hg socker (sugar)
5 - 6 citroner (lemon)
"Härpå rifwes muskått" (old swedish for nutmeg)

this is old punsch, in the recepies it says around 1750.
I'll try to get some more up to date soon. but right now I Have computerproblems.

#29 eas

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 09:54 AM

For those attending the "Lost/Rare Ingredients" session at Tales of the Cocktail, the Swedish Punsch you'll taste was prepared with the following, approximately:

800 ml Batavia Arrack (at 50% - 65% ABV, mix of three varieties at hand)
560 ml Water
350 g Cane Sugar, standard refined
20 ml Fresh lemon juice
20 ml Pusser's Navy rum
mix of spices, freshly crushed

The level of sugar was fit to balance these Arracks and the citrus, though by comparison seems less than found in the Cederlunds and Facile Punschs. The consistency is that of a light liqueur.

Rum is found in most of the commercial punschs and many historic Arrack recipes. I've so far found that any rum of character tends to stand out and compete with the Arrack, whereas light rums do little more the dilute. I suspect that, then as now, its inclusion is largely an economic decision. In this preparation, the minor amount of Pusser's adds its accent, though doubt I'd use it again.

The spices are traditional to Nordic pastries, and may be the only other element aside from local consumption that makes this Swedish.

#30 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 11:14 AM

--moderator note: merged topic--

Apologies if you've touched on this before, but what did you think of your homemade arrack punch vs. commercial swedish punsch? Is it even close enough to bother with?
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