Captain Radcliffe’s Punch

  • Serves

    makes 3 Quarts


This smooth-drinking white wine- and cognac-based punch is inspired by one described in a poem by the 17th-century English army captain and courtier Alexander Radcliffe. As with many punches, this one tastes the best when chilled by a single large block of ice instead of fast-melting cubes, which water down the punch too quickly.


  • 4 lemons
  • 12 cup sugar
  • 1 12 cups sweet white wine, preferably sauternes
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle of brandy, preferably VSOP cognac
  • 6 cups chilled water
  • Freshly grated nutmeg


Step 1

Using a peeler, peel lemons, taking off as little white pith as possible. Transfer peels to a heavy bowl; reserve lemons. Add sugar; use a muddler or a wooden spoon to vigorously crush sugar and peels together until the sugar turns faintly yellow and slushy (see Mastering Muddling).

Step 2

Juice the reserved lemons and add the juice to the bowl along with the peels. Stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a punch bowl; strain the lemon and sugar mixture into the punch bowl; discard solids. Stir in the wine and the brandy. Chill. To serve, stir in water and place a large block of ice (see Holidays on Ice) in the bowl. Garnish with nutmeg.

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