Many region-specific punches, all the rage among thirsty, revelry-prone state militias of the antebellum era, have been lost to time (and, no doubt, modern military decorum). Not so the recipe for Light Dragoons Punch, which was fortuitously found by a friend of superstar Southern chef Sean Brock in a 1783 book housed at the Preservation Society of Charleston. Of course, old recipes are notoriously lacking in exactitude, so Rod Weaver, bartender at Brock’s Husk restaurant, has adapted it a bit for contemporary mixologists. Regardless, with more than 10 cups of booze, it still will knock out a platoon or two.
Light Dragoons Punch: A Cocktail for South Carolina
Too much of this heavy-artillery drink and you’ll need to call in the reinforcements
2 cups raw sugar
8 cups black tea
8 cups brandy
2 cups rum, preferably Bermuda or Barbados
½ cup peach brandy
3 cups club soda or preferred unflavored sparkling water
Peel strips of zest from 3 lemons and slice into slivers. Juice all lemons to produce 1½ cups juice.
Combine lemon juice, sliced lemon peel, raw sugar, tea, brandy, rum, and peach brandy in a large glass container. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
To serve as a punch, place a large block of ice in a punch bowl, pour in mixture and top with club soda. To serve individually, pour mixture over ice in a glass and top with 1 oz. club soda. Yield: 20 servings.
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