When you have a houseful of unacquainted guests, nothing breaks the ice like a bowl of punch. Show your company what a classy class of drink this can be with a bowl of Regent’s Punch, an 18th-century concoction named after the firstborn son of King George III. With a bowl of this boozy creation sitting on the sideboard, your guests will be mingling as readily as did the prince himself. The best part? You can join them.
2 small oranges
1 Seville or sour orange (or substitute with ½ grapefruit)
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tea bags, or 1 oz. loose-leaf green tea
1 pint hot water
1 cup VSOP-grade cognac
2 oz. aged dark rum (El Dorado 12- or 15-year, Smith & Cross or Appleton 12-year)
2 oz. Batavia Arrack
2 oz. Luxardo maraschino liqueur
2 oz. pineapple syrup (optional)
2 bottles brut Champagne
• In a mixing bowl, peel the lemons and all 3 oranges, removing as little of the white pith as possible. Leave the peels in the bowl; set the fruit aside.
• Add the sugar to the mixing bowl and muddle it into the peels. Let stand for at least 1 hour, muddling occasionally and again at the end, to extract as much oil as possible from the peels.
• Meanwhile, prepare 1 pint of hot green tea.
• Once brewed, add the hot tea to the muddled fruit peels, stirring until any remaining sugar dissolves.
• Juice the peeled fruit and add the juice to the hot tea and muddled peel mixture, stirring to combine.
• Remove the peels and strain the mixture (which may now be called a sherbet, or shrub) through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
• To the strained mixture, add the next 4 ingredients and pineapple syrup, if using. Stir to combine.
• Put the liquid into a sealed jug, pitcher or bottle and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until needed. (It will keep for 1 to 2 days.)
• Prior to serving, refrigerate a punch bowl or prepare a large block of ice in advance using a plastic mixing bowl. Pour in the refrigerated liquid, then add the Champagne, stirring gently. Add fruit slices if desired.
No time for punch? Tell your guests to bring their favorite bottle of liquor, then surprise them with high-quality olives, oranges and limes, fresh herbs, a good tonic water (we like Fentimans), and ice – lots of ice. Your bar will become the hit of the party.