There are few things more Dickensian than a bowl of punch. A great lover of drink, Dickens wove spirits into his writing repeatedly and even conceived of his own punch: this cheek warming mix of Cognac, rum, citrus, and sugar that is “cooked” by setting it on fire.
- 3/4 cup sugar, preferably demerara
- 3 lemons, peeled and juice reserved
- 2 cups rum, preferably Smith & Cross
- 1 1/4 cups cognac, preferably Curvoisier VSOP
- 5 cups black tea (or hot water)
Garnish: lemon and orange slice, freshly grated nutmeg
- To an enameled cast-iron pot or heatproof bowl, add sugar and lemon peels. Muddle peels and sugar together to release citrus oils.
- Add rum and Cognac to the sugar. Light a match, and, using a heatproof spoon, pick up a spoonful of the spirit mix. Carefully bring the match to the spoon to light, then bring the lit spoon back to the bowl. Let the spirits burn for about 3 minutes. The fire will melt the sugar and extract the oil from the lemon peels.
- Extinguish the fire by covering it with a heatproof pan. Skim off lemon peels. Squeeze in the lemon juice, and add hot tea.
- Ladle into glasses over ice. Garnish with citrus slices and grated nutmeg.