However, historic cooks did a great deal of preserving throughout the year, especially in preparation for the winter holiday season. From pickling young walnuts in June, making cherry bounce in July, and starting the holiday fruit cake in August or September, canning and drying weren't the only food preservation activities going on, and many happened year-round.
Of course, I'm not much of a canner or jammer, and I find the easiest way to preserve involves alcohol. Even though (ironically) we don't do a great deal of drinking in our house, having something other than beer and wine at a party is delightful, and punch is one of the best ways to showcase an interesting beverage for a crowd.
As some of you may be aware, we plan a huge holiday party every year (hosting between 20 and 40 people), and Second Horse Punch has been a staple since the beginning, starting 10 years ago.
We got the recipe from a friend, who works at another 18th century historic site. The original recipe reads thusly:
½ pint light-bodied West Indies Rum (a.k.a. light Puerto Rican or Cuban)
½ pint peach brandy
½ pint lemon juice
5 tablespoons bitters (Angostura is about the only kind left and this recipe uses about half a bottle)
4 tabelspoons brown sugar
Stir thoroughly. Pour over a large block of ice. Add 2-3 pints effervescent mineral water.
So what's with the name? It was supposedly invented by the Second Lighthorse Brigade and a rusty stirrup added to the punch purportedly improved the flavor.
The key to a good Second Horse Punch is to let it age. The longer, the better. At minimum three months, preferably up two years. The longer it ages, the smoother it becomes. But, if you're going to let it age for that long, be sure to store it in glass. Quart mason jars are fine, if you don't have bottles. Our first big batch is actually in an old green glass wine jug.
Second Horse Punch
1 quart white rum
1 quart peach brandy
1 quart lemon juice
16 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bottles angostura bitters (which is actually only 16 tablespoons, not 20, but that's okay)
Mix well - I recommend adding the brown sugar first - and pour into glass jars for storage. Label with the date so you know when best to mix it up for a delicious, not-too-sweet, spicy, delicious party punch.
If you don't want to make 3 quarts, you can cut the recipe in half and use a pint mason jar for your measuring (which I did, but twice, because I didn't have a big enough pouring bowl).
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