In eighteenth-century England, the very idea of gin punch was a joke. Punch was for the elite, gin for the rabble. But time is the great leveler. By the end of the century, English gin had gotten better and punch had become more democratic. It took an American, however, to seal the deal. Once Stephen Price, of New York, introduced the idea of mixing the traditional gin, lemon juice and sugar with chilled soda water, gin punch was off and running. This version, based on an 1869 recipe, adds green tea, pineapple syrup and a little Drambuie to make things interesting.
Golden Fleece Punch
Makes about 3½ quarts, or enough for over 30 3-oz. cups
Zest of 3 lemons, peeled with a vegetable peeler
¼ cup superfine sugar
1 cup strained fresh lemon juice
1 liter Plymouth gin
1 quart weak green tea
½ cup rich pineapple syrup (see note)
2 ½ tablespoons Drambuie
1 liter cold seltzer
1 quart block of ice
1. Muddle the lemon zest in sugar and let sit for an hour or so. Put it in a punch bowl.
2. Add the lemon juice and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the gin, tea, pineapple syrup and Drambuie.
3. Just before serving add the seltzer and ice.
Note: To make rich pineapple syrup, stir 4 cups Demerara sugar and 2 cups water over a low flame until all sugar has been dissolved. Let cool. Peel, core and dice a pineapple into 1-inch cubes, put them in a bowl with the syrup and let sit at room temperature overnight (cover the bowl). Strain out the pineapple (eat it if you like), bottle the syrup and keep refrigerated.