Al Culliton

‘A very fine bar, wherever you are’

Yuletide of yore: a punch party

Choose up to four for your holiday soirée

Chilled Punches

Claret Cup
Bordeaux∙Cointreau∙crème de cassis∙tawny port∙lemon∙sugar∙club soda
British shorthand for any red wine from Bordeaux, "claret" provides a tannic base to this delightfully festive punch. Fruit liqueurs, along with rich port wine and soda, make for a well-rounded and effervescent punch.

Jerry Thomas's Gin Punch
Plymouth gin∙crème de framboise∙lemon∙sugar∙orgeat∙citrus∙raspberries∙pineapple∙brut
Jerry Thomas, who elevated the profession of bartending in nineteenth century, gives us this glorious recipe for a gin-based punch. Orgeat, an almond syrup, and lots of fruit remind us of the tradition of indulging in rare treats at Christmas, when nuts and fruit would have been given as gifts.

Hot Punches & the Like

Charles Dickens's Punch
Smith & Cross Rum∙Angostura 1919∙Pierre Ferrand Cognac∙black tea∙sugar∙lemon∙orange∙nutmeg
This punch is set alight before serving, and we can just picture the Ghost of Christmas Present partaking in a few glasses. Tea makes the whole thing yet more Dickensian. "Bah Humbug" has never escaped the lips of one sipping on this cup of cheer.

ale∙hard cider∙oloroso∙apples∙eggs∙brown sugar∙ginger∙nutmeg∙allspice∙cloves∙cinnamon
Wassailing was originally part of a ritual from southern England which, at some point, became associated with Twelfth Night, the feast of the Three Kings. A wassail king and queen would lead a procession of villagers in song from orchard to orchard, hanging toast soaked in wassail from the trees, blessing the apple harvest for the following autumn. The preparation of wassail involves baking apples with sugar and spices before heating ale, cider and eggs to be mixed in with the apples and served hot. The word "wassail" is used as a toast during the Christmas season, coming from the Old English ves hal, meaning "be you in good health." 

Tom & Jerry
Pierre Ferrand Cognac∙Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum∙eggs∙milk∙sugar∙spices
Likely invented by a British journalist in the 1820s, this beverage has been popular in the US for almost two hundred years. A proper Tom & Jerry requires the preparation of a batter of egg, sugar, allspice, cinnamon, mace and cloves. This batter is ladled into individual cups and whisked together with rum, brandy, and hot milk, with nutmeg grated to finish. 

Egg Nog

Al's Highland Egg Nog [as seen on Bon Appétit]
Famous Grouse∙ginger∙spices∙milk∙cream∙eggs∙cinnamon∙Laphroaig
We make our own fresh-ginger-chai-spice-honey syrup to sweeten this smokey, boozy egg nog. The spice and smoke add dimension to this rich holiday classic. Best served on a tartan tablecloth.