Punches are tough things to make – you need a lot of people together to justify making a batch.  I’ve been thinking about trying one. I was looking for some egg nog recipes in which I could use the spiced rum. That lead me to my copy of Charleston Receipts, a South Carolina classic. The book was put together by the Junior League of Charleston (SC) and published in 1950. It is a collection of family recipes. Conventional wisdom has it that these passed down recipes represent cooking (and drinking) from the 18th and 19th century.  This can lead to some culinart archaeology when you use the recipes. I proposed to my wife over an oyster pie described in this book. I also used a neat way to cook quails described on the book when the opportunity presented itself last year. Currently working on securing a possum to try out that signature dish.

The book starts with a section on drinks. Most are punches with proportions that would satisfy 100 or so people gathered for a major social event. One caught my eye because it included tea, a Charleston stand by.

Rum Punch

“This was the punch my father made for all the debutante parties of my generation.”


1 gallon brandy              2 quarts black tea

½ gallon heavy or           2 dozen lemons

light rum

1 pint peach brandy        Sugar to taste

5-6 quarts of carbonated water


Add carbonated water just before serving, more or less according to the strength puch to have. 1 pint curaco or maraschino as well as strawberries, cherries or a few slices of pineapple may be added.  130-140 servings Mrs Ralph Hanson (Eleanor Rutlidge)

You see what I have to work with. A little creative math made it manageable. When all the measures are converted to ounces, it becomes apparent that they divisible by 8. Doing that reduces it to 16 – 18 servings. Tiding up the recipe gave this:

Charleston Rum Punch (1/8 recipe)

16 oz   brandy                              8 oz black tea
8  oz    rum, light or dark             6 oz strained fresh lemon juice
2  oz    peach brandy                    5 oz 3:1 sugar syrup
[2 oz    curaco or maraschico]      20-24 oz  club soda

Notes: I used the peach liquor made a couple of months back for this component, although peach brandy is readily available in our ABC stores. The tea was brewed with loose leaf Earl Grey. Six ounces of lemon juice is what I got from squeezing three lemons. The sugar syrup amount comes from David Embury’s drink ratio of 8:2:1 – base liquor:modifying substance:sugar syrup. He makes a 3 parts sugar to 1 part water syrup. One cup of sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup water gives about 7 ounces, enough for this plus a little extra for the next night’s drinks.

The result was pretty good. Without the club soda, it tasted like an alcoholic iced tea. We packed up the punch base along with our newly designated portable punch bowl and headed to a get together with some friends. I added soda water and lemon slices just before serving. The water tamed the alcohol a bit and gave a nice spritz. The punch seemed to be well received. Two people in particular enjoyed it and their attention was much appreciated. – Cheers