My friend John decided to kick off his fortieth birthday celebrations with a garden party in Norfolk for family and close friends – and I was roped in to run the bar. The event was vaguely Victorian in theme (croquet and a buffet lunch of pressed tongue, whole dressed salmon, dressed crab and samphire, ham hock and trotters terrine, tomato summer pudding and lettuce with home-made salad cream) so I decided an authentic punch might be an appropriate tipple.
Alongside the punch I served lighter drinks such as a Sloe Gin Fizz and a lavender Bellini (lavender syrup and prosecco – we dubbed it a Norfolk Royale. Find out how to make lavender syrup). I was manning the bar solo so I restricted myself to serving only one cocktail that required shaking. Inspired by the name of the house (Botany Bay), it featured an intense herbal infusion mellowed with the flavours of an English garden. A truly lovely drink.
The herbal infusion included: dried angelica, mallow leaf, clove, coriander, juniper, lemon peel, orange peel, spearmint, wormwood, roses, camomile, elderberries, black pepper, as well as fresh sage, spinach, rosemary, thyme, basil and mint. For easier mixing, replacing this with Chartreuse is probably a good idea ….
For summery soft drink ideas see my previous post: The soft option
Mr. Ridley’s Rack Punch
100 ml Ceylon Arrack
325 ml golden rum
325 ml cognac
200 ml lime juice
1.2 litre weak black tea (3 teaspoons of loose tea infused for max 5 minutes)
180 g brown sugar
Mix the hot tea with the sugar (I used Plantation reserve Barbados sugar from Waitrose which comes highly recommended) and stir until dissolved. Add the lime juice and allow to cool. Add an ice block to a large bowl and add the tea mix, rum, arrack and the cognac. Stir. Serve in small glasses with a smattering of freshly grated nutmeg on top.
(Thanks to David Wondrich’s excellent book ‘Punch’ for inspiration.)
Add all the ingredients to a shaker of ice and shake hard. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with sprig of dill or cucumber slice.
Tip: To make cucumber gin slice half a cucumber in bowl and cover with 375 ml gin. Leave for a few hours to infuse then, strain through muslin. This will keep in the fridge for about a week. Reserve cucumber slices for garnish.
NB. I’ve also made variations of this drink with rose liqueur and nettle cordial – you can swap the ingredients around so long as the ratios are the same and you stick to light floral flavours.