Brandy and rum are a traditional pairing in punch. Here, apple brandy is used for a familiar fall flavor along with arrack, which is a not-too-distant cousin of rum. Fine French Calvados also can be found for a fraction of the price of equivalently distilled and aged Cognacs, and arrack lends a touch of the exotic. The bitters add intense clove-and-spice aromatics. The sweet and sour components are honey and lime, which blend well with apple and spice.
The punch-bowl variation below calls for brewed green tea.
About substitutions: Batavia brand arrack is made from sugar cane; it is key to a Swedish-style drink. Do not use Middle Eastern-style arrack, as it is quite different and has a much more pronounced anise flavor. If you can't find it, the logical substitute would be a rhum agricole, preferably with just a bit of age, such as Neisson's Eleve Sous Bois.
Any decent Calvados will do. Don't waste an XO on this cocktail because you still want some fruit left to the brandy. For an old American twist, substitute Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy for the French Calvados. Angostura bitters may be used instead of the Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic bitters, but you may want to add a dash of ground cinnamon along with the nutmeg to compensate for the spice. There is no substitute for fresh lime juice.
Servings: 18 - 20
- For the drink
- 1 1/2 ounces good-quality Calvados, such as Boulard Grand Solage
- 1/2 ounce arrack, preferably van Oosten Batavia brand (see headnote; may substitute a rhum agricole)
- 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 ounce honey syrup (see NOTE)
- 1 dash Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters (see headnote)
- Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
- 1 whole star anise, for garnish
- For the punch
- Ice block
- 2 cups Calvados
- 1 cup arrack (see headnote)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 8 to 10 limes)
- 1 cup honey syrup (see NOTE)
- 4 cups cold green tea
- 11 long dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters (see headnote)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
- 12 whole star anise, for garnish
For the drink: Chill a champagne coup or cocktail (martini) glass.
Combine the Calvados, arrack, lime juice, honey syrup and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Fill two-thirds full with ice; shake vigorously for 13 seconds, then strain into the glass.
Sprinkle a little of the nutmeg on top, then carefully add the star anise, which should float.
For the punch: Place the ice block in a punch bowl.
Combine the Calvados, arrack, lime juice, honey syrup, green tea and bitters in a large container. Ladle the mixture carefully over the ice in the punch bowl. Sprinkle with the nutmeg and float the star anise on top.
NOTE: Combine 1 cup of honey and 1 cup of just-boiled water in a heatproof container. Stir until the honey has dissolved. Cool completely before using. Refrigerate any remaining syrup for up to 1 week.
From David Fritzler at Tryst.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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