Tag Archive for Spirits

Going Retro with Punch!!!

Newport Punch


My girlfriend got tapped recently to provide adult beverages for her friend’s bachelorette weekend.  This is good, no, really it is!  It gives me the opportunity to help her out and try some punch recipes I’ve been eying for a while.   Yes, punch.  What could be easier to please a crowd?  Getting flashbacks of your 8th grade dance?  Not to fear, this was all the craze in the 50’s, as in 1850’s.  Jerry Thomas, the godfather of bartending, would be proud.  Staying true to Jerry Thomas and his era, I decided to scour the reprints of his books and others from that time.  I found a lot of punches with champagne or something else effervescent.  This would be great for a party where it would be consumed quickly before going flat.   This, however, is not one of those circumstances.  What we needed was something that would hold up for at least six hours and had ingredients that were not impossible to find.  Three options were explored: Brandy Punch, Newport Punch, and Victoria Punch.  Further research was done by making a reduced quantity version of each and comparing them against each other.  The three punches had bases of brandy, rum, or both in the case of Victoria Punch.  The contest to decide the best took two nights as the Victoria Punch required a 24 hour soak of equal parts rum and brandy in slices of lemon.  

My girlfriend chose the Newport Punch as that hit her palette just right.  Translation: saccharine.  My personal favorite was the Brandy Punch- not too sweet, actually a bit on the tart side.  To reproduce the reduced size batches, try the following:

Brandy Punch (Single serving)
1 Tbsp Raspberry Syrup
2 Tsp powdered sugar
2 oz water
3 oz brandy
1 medium sized lemon
2 orange slices
1 pineapple wedge
fresh berries

Place raspberry syrup, powdered sugar, water, brandy, juice of lemon, orange slices, and pineapple in shaker with ice.  Shake well and garnish with berries in season.

Newport Punch (1/12th full recipe)
4 oz sugar
4 oz cold water
1 lemon
1 lime
1 oz rum

Mix sugar, water, and juice from lemon well.  This is called sherbet.  These proportions should make about 5 oz of the stuff.  Mix it with rum.  I used Myers Dark Rum.  On rim of glass run quartered lime and squeeze the remainder in glass. 

Victoria Punch (1/12th full recipe)
½ lemon sliced
4-2/3 oz water
5-1/3 oz brandy
5-1/3 oz rum
1-1/3 oz milk
1-1/3 oz sugar

Steep the sliced lemon in rum and brandy over night.  Again, I used Myers Dark Rum for this.  Mix the remaining ingredients well and filter with a “jelly bag”.  I didn’t have a jelly bag so I used some paper towels made in to a cone filter.  A coffee filter would work great for this as well. The filter is needed as the milk curdles a bit. It’s noted that this can be served hot or cold.  I found it to be pretty stout and better cold than at least warm- not sure about hot. 


 We tweaked the final version of the Newport Punch as it was super sweet.  The actual amount we used turned out to be 4 lbs sugar, 26 lemons, 104 oz water, 26+ oz Myers Rum for good measure, and 6 limes making a little under two gallons.  This fit perfectly in the 5 dollar 2 ½ gallon cooler we got from the grocery store.

The end result was received well by the thirsty bachelorette party which in my book is a success!

These recipes are from American & Other Drinks: Cocktails, Punches and Fancy Drinks, 1878.  Reprinted editions can be found at multiple places.  I found mine from Vintage Cocktail Books (www.vintagecocktailbooks.com) and Amazon.

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!!!

Stranahans is a micro-distillery in Colorado is responsible for producing the "only Rocky Mountain Whiskey"

Sex and the City, Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men have something in common…They have helped to reintroduce the world to the glitz and glam of classic cocktails, bringing almost extinct spirits like Rye back in vogue and re-popularizing libations our parents, and sometimes more appropriately, our grandparents used to enjoy. Who can forget how every girl’s night out on Sex and the City started with Carrie and the girls drinking a sexy looking Cosmopolitan? Or, in Mad Men where sex, power and money seem to include an amazing looking Vodka Gimlet, Martini or Old Fashioned? TV helped to kick off a trend, but what has fueled the current cocktail/spirits craze has been an explosion of micro distillers who are taking the craft of spirit distillation to a new level.

In 2000, there were only about a dozen micro-distillers in the country, that is to say, distilleries, producing 40,000 cases of spirits a year or less. Today, there are about 200 craft distillers countrywide with more producers popping up all the time. Happily, for us tipplers, this means a whole array of spirits now available made from small producers who take their craft seriously, distilling their spirits with love, sweat and tears. Only a little over a decade into the micro-distilling movement and we see new categories of spirits appearing, such as an “American” single malt “Scotch” style whiskey from St. George of Northern California, and vodka made from Maple Syrup from Vermont Spirits. Cordials, gins, vodkas, bourbons and agave spirits that did not exist before now are available for our consumption.

This artisanal, locally oriented micro-distilling movement is simply the continuation of a food and beverage renaissance that started in the early 80s. Almost out of nowhere high quality, handcrafted, and locally produced food and beverages started showing up in supermarkets and specialty shops alike. These early pioneers fought for quality and flavor and did not accept the premise that domestically produced libations and noshes needed to taste boring or insipid. On the beverage front, they refused to accept that only great quality coffee, beer and wine had to come from Europe. So, came the advent of craft beer makers like Magic Hat, Sam Adams, Rogue and Sierra Nevada to name a few, not to mention the rise of Starbucks, the now international coffee chain who introduced America to quality coffee products on a large-scale. This all brings to mind just how far we have come in just 30 short years on the food and beverage scene, and it is exciting to think about where we will be, even in the next 10 years!

To celebrate the advent of micro-distilling, the newest phase of the locally produced, high quality beverage movement, Elixrr will be featuring interviews with some of the coolest artisanal distillers. Stay tuned.