Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Forester's American Whiskey Punch

Christmas is a special time here in the Firewater Lounge. It would be safe to say that the best drinks that we have poured have their genesis in the holidays. These drinks are not just good, they have history, their creation requires attention and reflection, and they are attached to the memories of the ones we love. This year we are remembering Cindy’s cousin Mike’s grandpa. As I knew him, John Callaghan Sr. never went anywhere without a smile, ribbing anyone within earshot about anything he could think of. When he passed away, we asked to picture some of his drinkware in the Lounge.

What we choose to shoot was a monogrammed bowl and glass set, bedecked with a whimsical man with top hat askew, betraying a bit of tipsiness from the night’s frivolities. We asked Mike what his grandpa liked to drink and he said, ‘Old Fitzgerald.’

Old Fitzgerald bourbon traces its roots back to 1870. The creation of John E. Fitzgerald’s Kentucky River Distillery, ‘Old Fitz’ became the whiskey of the rail men and steamship captains of the region. Later, Old Fitz would be acquired by the legendary Julian P. ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle who introduced wheat into its mash bill. Today, bottled-in-bond Old Fitzgerald 100 proof is sold by Heaven’s Hill. Old Fitz’s legacy was passed down to the modern-day wheated Larceny Bourbon, of which is one of the FWL’s most loved bourbons (once, longtime Lounge-lizard Stiff asked what we suggested to replace the notoriously-hard-to-find Larceny in a recipe, to which we responded, ‘Nothing’).

Now, we know that John Sr.’s bowl was probably for pretzels, but I think he would have liked that we decided to use it for a 1849 punch that features American whiskey prominently. It’s called Frank Forester’s American Whiskey Punch or simply Forester’s cold punch. Here’s how to make it.

Forester’s American Whiskey Punch
Classic Pours Series

2 large lemons
1 cup of white sugar
2 cups of 100 proof bourbon or rye (we used Old Fitz)
8 ounces of lukewarm water
3 cups of ice cold water

If you have never made classic punch before, you will first need to prepare oleo-saccharum (oiled sugar). To do this, peel two large lemons and place the peels in a large mixing bowl. Avoid including any pith. Add a cup of sugar to the peels. Muddle for several minutes until the oil from the peels is distributed throughout the sugar. The wet sugar will clump to the peels. Let the mixture stand for at least an hour. Likely the oil will liquify the sugar. If not, add 8 ounces of lukewarm water and stir until dissolved.

Add 1 ½ ounces of lemon juice (half of a lemon) and 2 cups of 100 proof bourbon to the oleo-saccharum. Stir.

Prepare a punch bowl with two to three handfuls of ice cubes or a quart-size block of ice. Pour the bourbon-lemon mixture into the iced bowl, peels and all. Add 3 cups of ice cold water. Stir gently. Don’t drink it until you find three friends that live life as much as John Sr. did, and, when you do, no one leaves until the punch is gone.

Salut from the Firewater Lounge. We love you all and happy holidays!

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