Those of you who live in the Twin Cities might already know that this Sunday is Grand Old Day, the largest one-day festival in the midwest that takes place every June along St. Paul’s Grand Avenue. It’s a fun time with a parade, lots of food, music, art, sporting events and so on. They even created their own iPhone app for the event. What does all that have to do with the Drink Of The Week? Well, as a St. Paul resident, I like to host a backyard barbecue every year to coincide with the huge festival, and for several years running I have served a rum punch—in fish bowls, no less! This year is no exception, but instead of my regular basic fruit juice medley, I decided to make an honest-to-history punch that would make Jerry Thomas proud.
So, who’s Jerry Thomas, you might ask? Only the most famous bartender in the world. He wrote the first drink book ever published in the United States in 1862. In addition to compiling virtually all of the cocktail recipes that were being served at the time, The Bar-Tenders Guide also contains many recipes for Punch, the earliest form of mixed drink. Here’s an example, exactly as it appears in his book:
Rocky Mountain Punch
(For a mixed party of 20.)
(From a recipe in the possession of Major James Foster.)
This delicious punch is compounded as follows:
5 bottles of champagne.
1 quart of Jamaica rum.
1 pint of maraschino.
6 lemons, sliced.
Sugar to taste.
Mix the above ingredients in a large punch-bowl, then place in the centre of the bowl a large square block of ice, ornamented on top with rock candy, loaf-sugar, sliced lemons or oranges, and fruits in season. This is a splendid punch for New Year’s Day.
As you can see, back in Thomas’s day, they really knew how to mix drinks! But where am I going to get rock candy and loaf-sugar? The maraschino refers to the liqueur such as the one made by Luxardo. This recipe is all fine and good, but Dan Stern at the Urban Farmer in Portland, Oregon serves a variation of it that adds pineapple juice to the mix. I like his version because he also tweaks the proportions, putting rum ahead of champagne and favors freshly squeezed lemon juice. He calls it Major James Foster Punch, but I have a better name.
I figured since the original was called Rocky Mountain Punch, Jerry wouldn’t mind if I used “Summit” in my name for it, but who knows what Major James Foster would say about that. In any case, I am borrowing Dan Stern’s recipe, and for this weekend only, it’s going to be called Summit Sips Punch:
Summit Sips Punch
1.75 liter bottle of Rum
40 ounces pineapple juice
16 ounces simple syrup
6 ounces Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
4 ounces lemon juice
.5 bottle of champagne
Combine everything but the champagne in a punch bowl and chill. When ready to serve, place the bowl on a bed of ice to keep chilled and add the champagne. Float a huge chunk of ice embedded with frozen fruit and lemon slices. Drink responsibly and enjoy the parade!