"Punch Royal dates back to the end of the 17th century," says cocktail historian David Wondrich. "It was drunk by courtiers, pirates and everyone in between." Wondrich's new book, Punch, or the Delights and Dangers of the Flowing Bowl (Perigee Books), pays tribute to punch.
1 pound panela (Latin American solid sugar) or light brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
8 ounces fresh lemon juice
One-half 750-ml bottle chilled dry German Riesling
Ice, preferably 1 large block
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
In a large container, combine the Cognac and lemon zest strips. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. Discard the lemon zest.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cinnamon stick and ginger with 16 ounces of water. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Strain the brown sugar syrup and let cool.
In a large punch bowl, combine the infused Cognac, lemon juice and three-quarters of the brown sugar syrup; refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Stir in the Riesling and 32 ounces of chilled water; add more brown sugar syrup to taste. Add the ice and garnish with the freshly grated nutmeg.