“Historically, punch would have been the antecedent to cocktail culture,” says Alex Gregg, owner of Moving Sidewalk, which celebrated its second year downtown this fall. “Punch would have been the first drink that was mixed with care, with attention paid to ingredients.”
Borrowing its name from the Sanskrit word for five, pancha, which denotes its ingredient count, the boozy beverage was first brought to England from India by the British East India Company in the early 17th century. A charming rhyme assisted sailors in recalling the proper recipe: “One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, Four of Weak.” (Spices—typically nutmeg—accounted for the final ingredient.) Before the introduction of Jamaican rum found in modern-day variations, classic punches got their kick from wine or brandy.
For a special wintry treat, Gregg turns to hot punch, and one showstopper in particular: The Tom & Jerry. Similar to eggnog, the drink relies on a batter of raw eggs, sugar and baking spices all whipped into an airy froth. Unlike its noggy brethren, however, it relies on hot water, rather than cream or milk, for a good balance of high-proof spirits and restrained richness.
“When people try it for the first time, they’re skeptical, but it’s delicious,” says Gregg. “And it’ll warm you right up.”
Recipe: Moving Sidewalk’s Tom & Jerry Punch
For the batter:
- 6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 2 C granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
- 1/2 tsp. cloves, ground
- 1/2 tsp. allspice, ground
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar, optional
For each drink:
- 2 oz. batter
- 3/4 oz. Plantation Dark Rum
- 3/4 oz. Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
- 2–3 oz. hot water
- Fresh nutmeg, to taste
- In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until thin and foamy. Add sugar and spices (but not cream of tartar) and mix well.
- In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into yolk mixture. If using, fold in cream of tartar to help stabilize.
- Add batter to a ceramic mug (avoid using glass for hot liquids), followed by the spirits. Top with hot water and stir. Garnish with grated nutmeg.
Makes 12–15 servings. Note: for a fun modification, substitute fresh coffee or hot apple cider for the water.