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Thanks!!! I saw from the Intertubes that Arak was the anise-flavored one, didn't realize this spelling was also. Much appreciated!

One giveaway is that proper Arrack will not be clear, though beware as there are other aged arracks from Sri Lanka made from coconut sap. These are not clear, but also not what you are looking for (though I'd be surprised if you come across one by accident).

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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"Molasses spirits with artificial flavor added"?

Wacky.

As far as Anise flavored spirits go, "Arack" can be quite nice. Often less sweetened than ouzo or pastis.

Though this Israeli one looks dubious. Useless for 19th century punch, but the nicer Aracks often come from Lebanon and are often a better and cheaper Absinthe substitute than Pastis or Ouzo.

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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  • 2 weeks later...
I've already got a wine here to use but I'm curious if anyone has found any source for authentic catawba, or failing that if there is any specific wine that works better than others. Just for future reference.

Here in the Finger Lakes of NY, there is catawba in abundance. Unfortunately, I don't know how widely these wines are distributed. Hazlitt's Red Cat (short for red catawba) is probably easiest to get. Very sweet and perfect for punch.

I'm making a mulled cider for a party I'm having this weekend. Any suggestions for spices, liquor, or combinations thereof that would make it a little special/different than the run-of-the-mill variety? Thank you.

Corinna Heinz, aka Corinna

Check out my adventures, culinary and otherwise at http://corinnawith2ns.blogspot.com/

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have that exact bottle of Arack at home. I bought it for a coworker from Israel, and we share it whenever she comes over to visit. It's very good (and I like how it turns opaque when you add cold water), but I agree, it's not the Arack you want for punch. Don't let that stop you from trying it though!

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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I've been reading some Dickens lately, and have come across a punch-related term that I'm unfamiliar with. To wit:

Sydney Carton drank the punch at a great rate; drank it by bumpers, looking at his friend

Can anyone offer insight as to what a "bumper" is? Is it a quantity? A type of glass? Something else entirely?

To pick up on Chris's question above, I'm planning on making punch for our Christmas party this year, but I have two overriding problems right now: 1) I can't decide what kind of punch to make. I'm thinking of doing a basic rum/cognac/lemon juice/tea punch (David's "Bowl of Punch" in Killer Cocktails) or the Carousel Punch in the November/December issue of Imbibe magazine (despite the expense of Calvados). Which brings me to problem 2) I don't have a punch bowl. Any advice on what to look for in buying one? Mostly what I've seen around here is cheap glass with - yuck - a plastic ladle. Please tell me there's something in the middle ground between Walmart and Lalique.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I've been reading some Dickens lately, and have come across a punch-related term that I'm unfamiliar with. To wit:

Sydney Carton drank the punch at a great rate; drank it by bumpers, looking at his friend

Can anyone offer insight as to what a "bumper" is? Is it a quantity? A type of glass? Something else entirely?

To pick up on Chris's question above, I'm planning on making punch for our Christmas party this year, but I have two overriding problems right now: 1) I can't decide what kind of punch to make. I'm thinking of doing a basic rum/cognac/lemon juice/tea punch (David's "Bowl of Punch" in Killer Cocktails) or the Carousel Punch in the November/December issue of Imbibe magazine (despite the expense of Calvados). Which brings me to problem 2) I don't have a punch bowl. Any advice on what to look for in buying one? Mostly what I've seen around here is cheap glass with - yuck - a plastic ladle. Please tell me there's something in the middle ground between Walmart and Lalique.

There's always ebay of course, though for the types of punches favored around these parts, you'll need something larger than what is typical out there--at least 10 qts. If it doesn't specify the quantity or look rather large in the photo, it's probably not big enough. 5-7 qts seems to be the typical range though clearly that's for ginger ale and sherbert, not what we're discussing here. You might also check in on party rental places, sometimes they sell their older stock that is too scratched up or whatever for use. Thats where I got this one, which that link shows as out of stock but was well over $100 when I last looked it up. Paid $25 for it I think, with the ladle.

Before I had that I used a cheap plastic punchbowl off of ebay, which last time I was looking at that kind of thing, could be had in a pack of 6 for under $40. It's not the most elegant solution but it holds punch.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I don't know anything about thrift stores in Guelph, but around here there are usually three or four glass punch bowls with cups at every Salvation Army and Savers (Value Village up north, eh?). That's where I got mine. The ladle, though, is harder to find; I usually use a stainless steel gravy ladle instead.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I got mine from Goodwill. Craigslist is also a good place. I think you should be able to get a nice one (4 quart size) for around $20. Size depends on your preference. I personally wouldn't have any use for anything bigger than that.

Do you think of cider and eggnog as punches? Functionally there's some similarity in that you make up a big batch. That's what I'm going to be making up for the holidays, and saving "real" punches for another time.

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I got mine from Goodwill. Craigslist is also a good place. I think you should be able to get a nice one (4 quart size) for around $20. Size depends on your preference. I personally wouldn't have any use for anything bigger than that.

Do you think of cider and eggnog as punches? Functionally there's some similarity in that you make up a big batch. That's what I'm going to be making up for the holidays, and saving "real" punches for another time.

Kent, I'm curious what punch recipes you have that fit in a 4 qt bowl with ice? Do you just scale down recipes for very small crowds? I've gone through a bowl of Fish House Punch with 5 other people in under two hours before without even trying, such a small bowl as that seems like you'd have to be refilling it all the time.

Though I guess I can see the appeal for eggnog.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Thanks, all, for the punch bowl suggestions. I'm on the road right now, but I'll check out the thrift stores once I get home. I guess if I can't find something big enough, I can always just refill it partway through the party.

Another question: How do you calculate how much punch to make, especially when dealing with a group of guests who have never had proper punch before? I'm worried that I'll either run out really early or have tons left over at the end of the night.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Thanks, all, for the punch bowl suggestions. I'm on the road right now, but I'll check out the thrift stores once I get home. I guess if I can't find something big enough, I can always just refill it partway through the party.

Another question: How do you calculate how much punch to make, especially when dealing with a group of guests who have never had proper punch before? I'm worried that I'll either run out really early or have tons left over at the end of the night.

I would say it depends on how motivated the crowd is for tippling in general. As I said upthread, I've burned through a full bowl of Fish House Punch in about 2 hours with just 6 people before but that was a rather exceptional night. In general I try to err slightly to the side of too much, since the stuff holds up ok in a jug in the fridge for a couple of days afterwards. Not as good as the first day but so long as there were no fizzy components it shouldn't suffer too much.

The rule of thumb in most sources seems to be that a bowl (10-12 qts with ice block) of punch serves 12-15. One thing I have done for parties and catering before is have everything pre-measured, prepared, and pre-chilled--juice, booze, water, and even the oleo-saccharum can be made as a kind of syrup ahead of time--and then if you run out and feel the need to recharge, just pour it all in the bowl with a fresh ice block (or maybe your first block is still usable). If you don't need it, the only waste is the juice; everything else can be saved for next time.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Here's a recipe for the famed "Smoking Bishop" punch, as featured in Dickens' A Christmas Carol. This recipe comes couretry of Dickens' Great-Grandson, Cedric Charles Dickens:

http://www.britannia.com/cooking/cedric.html

Recipe for "A Smoking Bishop"

Taken from "Drinking With Dickens", published in the US by New Amersterdam Books, NY

'Port was the base for a number of drinks: "we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop." Bishop seems to have been a very popular drink, and no wonder. I discovered it many years ago and it quickly became a traditional winter party drink. Not only is its taste exquisite, but equally its medicinal qualities are great. You can feel it doing good. Temperatures go up, from the top of the head (bald heads turn red) right down to the toes.'

Ingredients

For an American version

(6 Bitter Seville Oranges) OR

5 sweet oranges

1 old fashioned grapefruit

1/4 lb sugar to taste

2 bottles cheap strong red wine

1 bottle ruby port

cloves

How It's Done:

Bake the oranges and grapefruit in the oven until they are pale brown and then put them into a warmed earthenware bowl with five cloves pricked into each. Add the sugar and pour in the wine - not the port. Cover and leave in a warm place for about a day. Squeeze the oranges and grapefruit into the wine and pour it through a sieve. Add the port and heat, but do not boil. Serve in warmed goblets and drink hot.

During lunch with the Arab leader Ibn Saud, when he heard that the king’s religion forbade smoking and alcohol, Winston Churchill said: "I must point out that my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite the smoking of cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after, and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." Ibn Saud relented and the lunch went on with both alcohol & cigars.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks to all for the tips. I ended up finding a largish punch bowl at retail, with a stainless steel ladle. I followed Andy's advice about chilling the sugar/tea/lemon juice separately from the spirits, and we ended up going through one and a half batches total. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, so it's definitely something I can see making an annual feature of our party!

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Does anyone have experience with Leroux Peach Brandy, in Fish House Punch or otherwise? I know it is cheap and less than ideal, but might it work in a pinch (esp if balanced out with a good rum)?

TIA.

Edited by Corinna (log)

Corinna Heinz, aka Corinna

Check out my adventures, culinary and otherwise at http://corinnawith2ns.blogspot.com/

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Does anyone have experience with Leroux Peach Brandy, in Fish House Punch or otherwise? I know it is cheap and less than ideal, but might it work in a pinch (esp if balanced out with a good rum)?

TIA.

Based on very limited experience, my advice would be to avoid Leroux products if at all possible.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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What are people making for holiday punches this year?

Hubby and I are doing a quiet Christmas Eve & Day this year, just the two of us. Well, perhaps it will be just slightly boisterous, even if it is just the two of us.

I'm not planning on cooking a goose, but a standing rib roast for Christmas Eve dinner, which makes me think that we should start by toasting with an appropriate Dickensian punch. The Smoking Bishop sounds quite tasty, but rather a lot for two people -- any other suggestions of more modest proportions?

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Lapin d'Argent,

The following was part of an e-mail I just received from the "Mixellany" folks, and seems to involve manageable prep and total quantity:

"Blame Charles Dickens for helping to revive the celebration of Christmas at a time when tradition festivities had disappeared from the pages of London's Times (between 1790 and 1835, there was no mention of Christmas).In his 1843 A Christmas Carol, Bob Cratchit makes a hot gin punch for the whole family.

An authentic recipe from the period goes like this:

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 cinnamon stick

1 whole clove

1 teaspoon muscovado brown sugar

1 teaspoon honey

60 ml Madeira wine

60 ml Beefeater London Dry Gin

boiling water

Place the cinnamon stick,lemon juice, and clove into a warm tumbler. Add gin and wine. Fill the tumbler with boiling water. Stir with the cinnamon stick. garnish with ground cinnamon and nutmeg."

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If anyone is looking for a good Christmas punch, I can highly recommend the Carousel Punch recipe that appears in the Nov/Dec issue of IMBIBE Magazine. I made it for a party earlier this month and it was a big hit. The only cheat I resorted to was using Laird's Apple Brandy instead of Calvados. But I followed the sub-recipe for the spiced honey syrup precisely. Since the full recipe doesn't seem to be available on the IMBIBE Magazine website, I don't think it would be proper to reproduce it here (unless a moderator counsels otherwise). This was a wonderful punch and well worth the effort. It was so good that I'm thinking of making it again just for the hell of it (sadly, not a drop was left over after the party). The recipe doesn't say how many servings it should yield, but it's well over 100 ounces of liquid.

Edited by brinza (log)

Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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