Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pleased as Punch

Who doesn't love punch? If you love parties, I'm sure you love punch. I certainly do. Punch is so festive - it's interactive, everyone shares from the same bowl, the evening's just getting's just fun. 

Punch is especially fun when it's enjoyed in a gorgeous setting like the annual Traditional Beverages event at the historic Homewood Museum. Add the fact that the punch recipes were created by incredibly talented folks like Corey Polyoka and Connor Rasmussen of Woodberry Kitchen, Brendan Dorr of B&O American BrasseriePerez Klebahn of Mr. Rain's Fun House and Doug Atwell of my most favorite new bar, Rye. (Have you been to Rye? Oh dear Lord. Go.) 

The delicious food was by Spike Gjerde and Woodberry Kitchen. Spike reminded guests to appreciate the hard work and important contributions of the farmers, food producers and watermen of the Chesapeake Bay region. I love that he made a point to say a few words on such an important aspect of the world of food. Support LOCAL people! (I was happy to see that the strawberries we enjoyed for dessert were grown in White Hall, MD by my friends Joan and Drew Norman of One Straw Farm.)

Traditional Beverages event isn't just about actually learn about the history of each year's theme. In past years, they've focused on champagne, beer, wine, bourbon and more. According to Polyoka of Woodberry, the word "punch" comes from the Hindi word "panca," which means "five." When it originated in India centuries ago, it had five ingredients: citrus juice, water, arrack (a coarse spirit made of palm tree sap), sugar and spices.Then, when it migrated to Colonial America, arrack was replaced by rum. Serving punch was a way of showing your wealth - sometimes referred to as "art in a bowl." 

So, the five's what you need to have in a traditional punch recipe: something sour, sweet, strong,  weak and spice. A traditional punch should never be too sweet or sour, should be strong, but not taste too much like alcohol. 

As guests entered the lawn of the Homewood Museum at Johns Hopkins University, they were greeted by Polyoka's Clipper Punch. It was my favorite of the punches served. Here's the recipe:

Clipper Punch
makes 8 6oz servings

12oz Jamaican Overproof Rum (Smith & Cross)
4oz VSOP Brandy (Raynal VSOP)
2oz Batavia Arrack
6 lemons peeled and juiced
1/2 cup brown sugar
24oz chilled black tea
Grated nutmeg

In a large punch bowl, add the peels of 6 lemons, being careful not too include too much white pith from the lemon peels. 

Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and muddle with the lemon peels, extracting the oils.

Add rum, brandy and arrack and stir into the sugar lemon mixture.

Add the juice of 6 lemons and 24 oz of black tea.

Place in refrigerator to chill or add a large block of ice.

Grate nutmeg on top and enjoy.

A warning, friends. Punch is tricky. That's why punch glasses are so small.

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