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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cocktails for Presidents’ Day? Celebrate with Presidents Punch

What better way to celebrate Presidents’ Day than with a nice punch?  Modern cocktails were not yet available, and Rum was the drink of choice in colonial times, so our forefathers consumed it in mass quantities.  (For more on Rum and its history, see Wayne Curtis’ book “and a Bottle of Rum”).  Rum punches were very popular in those days, and today’s Salt Lake City mixologists should have most of the ingredients they need for a fine punch in their bars and kitchens.  Punches are currently experiencing a revival.  Master mixologist David Wondrich’s book on Punch is a great resource, plus he gives a recipe in his post on Punch on the blog at has a recipe for Martha Washington’s Punch that George would have liked, and an earlier post on by mixologist Joaquín Simó provides a tasty sounding punch recipe.  Now the Utah Mixologist is a little lazy, and a lot of these recipes require advance preparation of special syrups etc., so here’s a punch recipe that you might be able to throw together at the last minute.

One possible disadvantage of a punch is that it makes up quite a number of individual drinks, so it’s useful if a recipe is easily divided (or multiplied).  Always make sure that you’re serving a reasonable amount of liquor for the number of people present.  If you have a punch bowl, either use large ice cubes or freeze a large (about a quart) block of ice in advance in a plastic container.  If you decide to freeze a block of ice, you might want to embed some fruit in it for decoration and to add flavor to your punch.  You may want to prepare your punch in advance and refrigerate so the ice doesn’t melt too rapidly in the bowl.  The sweet is one area that may be problematic in this punch.  Falernum has plenty of sugar in it, but not enough to offset all of the lime.  My wife and I like this punch with 3 ounces of Agave Nectar, but you might like it with a bit more; thus the question mark.  Experiment and post the result.

Presidents Punch

18 oz full-flavored Gold Rum
6 oz Grand Gala Liqueur®
9 oz Fresh lime juice
9 oz Fresh orange juice
6 oz Falernum (Fee Bros.®)
3? oz Agave Nectar
6 oz Club Soda

Combine ingredients except Club Soda in a 2 quart pitcher and stir well.  Refrigerate if made in advance.  Serve in a punch bowl with ice, and add the Club Soda.  If serving from a pitcher and pouring into punch glasses, serve over ice and (optionally) top with Club Soda.  Garnish with thinly sliced citrus half-wheels in the bowl or thicker ones on the punch glass. 

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