Ferdinand & Isabella’s Punch

Adapted from Sherry by Talia Baiocchi

The many variations on the art and architecture of the flowing bowl make punch the category of drink that transcends season. Yet when I think of punch in all of its (generally) high-proof glory, I think of winter. And what do I dream of in winter? Beaches. And rum.

In most Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries and in Latin America, the solera system is often employed in the production of rum, making it sherry’s hard-drinking next of kin. Zacapa 23, a Guatemalan rum aged at high altitude via the solera system, is one of the finest rums on the market—bold and spicy, but lean thanks to its cooler aging locale. Both it and the oloroso in this drink have notes of citrus peel, which is echoed in bergamot-tinged Earl Grey tea and then Caribbean-ized with a strong dose of Angostura bitters and Velvet Falernum.

Reprinted with permission from Sherry by Talia Baiocchi, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.



  • 2 lemons
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 1 (750ml) bottle Ron Zacapa 23 Sistema Solera rum
  • 1 (750ml) bottle Don Nuño oloroso
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Angostura bitters
  • 1 cup Velvet Falernum

Garnish: lemon and lime wheels, nutmeg, mint sprigs

  1. Peel the lemons, taking care to avoid as much of the bitter white pith as possible.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar with the lemon peels, then lightly muddle and let sit for 20 minutes to allow the citrus oils to infuse with the sugar.
  3. Boil 3 cups of water and steep the tea bags in it for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. To the bowl, add the rum, sherry, lemon and lime juices, bitters, and Velvet Falernum, and stir to combine
  5. Add the tea and let cool to room temperature. If serving immediately, add several large cubes to chill.
  6. Add lime and lemon wheels and grate some nutmeg over the punch.
  7. Ladle into punch cups over ice, garnish with mint sprigs, and serve.
Editor's Note

If making ahead, bottle and refrigerate. When serving, pour over ice and add grated nutmeg, a lemon or lime wheel, and mint sprigs to garnish.