Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Irresistible: St. Cecilia Society Punch

It's been a while since our last post, a length of time in which we've been kept preoccupied by plans and preparations for the holidays and the close of 2011. December is traditionally a crazy time in the wine and spirits industry. We're encouraged by reports from our colleagues and hope that this holiday season is a very successful one for Rhode Island businesses.

The plan is to upload a holiday themed Fa la la la la post toward the end of this week or early next. Today, though, I wanted to share a delicious punch recipe that may come in handy should our readers be hosting a festive gathering over the next few days, weeks, months, ect.. The recipe is for a St. Cecilia Society Punch  (although attendees of the Wine Wizards holiday party on December 4th will remember it as something quite different) and it came to me from Darby O'Shea and, through her, Fine Cooking.

According to Wikipedia, the St. Cecilia Society was founded in Charlestown, South Carolina in 1766. Established as an organization for patrons of music, the society flourishes today as one of the oldest and most exclusive social institutions in the South. Apparently it is best known for hosting elegant dances, and what's a ball without a generous bowl of punch?

So, without further ado, here is our highly recommended punch recipe for your next festive gathering, which can be easily doubled.

St. Cecilia's Society Punch

2 medium lemons, thinly sliced
3/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tea bags green tea
3/4 cup dark rum
1/2 small pineapple, peeled, cored, sliced 1/2 inch thick, and cut into small wedges
1 750-ml bottle dry sparkling wine, such as Le Berceau Blanquette de Limoux from the Wizards' portfolio, chilled
6 cups sparkling water, chilled

Put the lemon slices in a large bowl and pour the brandy over them. Let macerate at room temperature overnight.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags, and steep for 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the tea bags and let the syrup cool.
At least 3 hours and up to 6 hours before serving, combine the lemons, brandy, syrup, rum, and pineapple in a large pitcher or bowl. Chill in the refrigerator.
Just before serving, pour the punch into a large chilled punch bowl with a block of ice. Add the sparkling wine and sparkling water, and gently stir.

... and then toast your nearest and dearest and enjoy your holiday celebration!

William Holbrook Beard (American, 1824-1900), “Santa Claus,” ca. 1862
oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 36 1/8 in., Jesse Metcalf Fund,