A Punch-Drunk Fourth: Not Just for Old People


There's no better way to serve a crowd than a punch. It might take a little preparation, but so does potato salad. And once you've got it all together, you can just sit back and enjoy the day. Here's an adaptation of one of my favorite recipes—a classic, going back to the golden age of punch in the 18th century England (no, the woman in the photo is not from the 18th century, although she could be), when tea and rum were prized commodities for the seafaring nation.

Regent's Punch
Serves about 16.

4 lemons
6 oranges
2 limes
4 bags of green tea or 4 teaspoons green tea leaves
1 cup superfine sugar
2 cups brandy, try VSOP cognac
3/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup light rum or cachaca
1/2 cup pineapple syrup (just soak overnight a bunch of cubed pineapple pieces in a solution of 1 cup water mixed with 1 cup sugar)
2 bottles chilled prosecco, dry cava, or brut sparkling wine

With a vegetable peeler, peel the citrus fruits, taking off as little white pith as possible and set aside the peels. Juice the fruits, keeping the juice. Steep the peels along with the tea in 4 cups boiling water for five minutes. Strain and discard the tea and peels. Stir in the sugar and the citrus juice. Pour all this into the punch bowl and add the rums, cognac and pineapple syrup. Refrigerate until cold. Just before serving pour in the sparkling wine. You can either add a large block of ice, which will melt very slowly, or serve as is with an ice chest on the side and people can add their own as they serve it. Garnish as you wish; a few orange and lime slices floating in it always looks nice.

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