By Warren Bobrow
My large sample bottle of Zaya 12 year Old Rum over on the shelf in the kitchen is making me very thirsty. I just juiced the biggest, fattest grapefruit I've ever seen, plus a few limes, an impossibly juicy navel orange and a candy sweet Meyer Lemon or two. Then I added the juice of a local quince!
All punches are not alike!
Many punches carry similar ingredients, but this one is augmented by coconut water filtered through a Mavea "Inspired" Ice pitcher, then frozen along with a bit of Mavea filtered water. The Mavea makes ice cubes which are nearly crystal clear and packed full of the dark, haunting flavor that only pure coconut water can add to a cocktail. Then in a tip of the hat to the fall season, I've added the completely unexpected spike of freshly pressed Quince juice. Quince is a mostly unknown fruit that only grows late in the season. They look sort of like a giant lemon with a soft and smooth skin. Their flavor is somewhere between that of an apple and a very tart pear. I like them for the depth that they lend to a mixed drink or even an applesauce!
In this case we have a plethora of citrus juices making up the punch. Then I weave in a couple ounces of fruit juices along with The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters. Based on a recipe by Professor Jerry Thomas, one of the most important bartenders of the 19th Century, this essential cocktail ingredient is both fruit-forward and bitter. Citrus and dried fruit aromas unite with the spicy and bitter flavors of cloves, angostura bark and cinnamon.
I love the historical element of this specific cocktail bitter to this punch, simply named the Grand Boca Punch in honor of the island of Trinidad, where Zaya rum is from. I love Zaya for the whiff of the tropics when I open the cork-finished bottle. The first taste is sweet caramelized banana, white chocolate and Caribbean spices, followed up quickly by the brooding 80 Proof heat. There are vanilla, coconut and cacao nibs in every sip. I've found that my homemade rum punches taste incredible with Zaya as the predominate liquor. I then add the fruit juices into a tall glass over the rum. Finally I spoon some Sorel, made by my friend Jackie Summers in Brooklyn over the top of the fruit juices and the Zaya.
Sorel is a most unique liqueur with a pleasing combination of ingredients. It is handcrafted in small batches from Brazilian clove, Indonesian cassia, Nigerian ginger, Indonesian nutmeg, Moroccan hibiscus, pure cane sugar, and organic New York grain alcohol. All these fabulous flavors combine to make cocktails of great sophistication.
The Grand Boca Punch can be served as a very adult themed Halloween punch. The Sorel floats on top of the multi-layered drink. First the coconut water ice, then the rum, then the fruit juices - grapefruit, orange, lime, lemon and quince - finally a dollop of Sorel… Finally moistened with the Jerry Thomas Bitters. I like to add a splash or two of Perrier Sparkling Water at the very end- their Pink Grapefruit flavor is in my opinion, is most beguiling!
The Grand Boca Punch will satisfy the thirst of several of your closest friends. It's quite strong, so please prepare to batten down your hatches!
-Zaya 12 Year Old Rum from Trinidad
-Sorel Liquor (Jack from Brooklyn)
-Freshly squeezed: Orange, Grapefruit, Quince, Lemon and Lime juices
-The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters
-Coconut water ice made in a silicone ice cube tray (coconut water/and regular water filtered through your Mavea pitcher)
-Perrier Sparkling Water (pink grapefruit)
Preparation for a nice happy punch:
-To a large vessel, add 4 ounces each of all the fruit juices
-Add 8 oz. Zaya Rum and mix with a bit of ice to chill
-Add several large cubes of the coconut water ice to a tall glass
-Pour the Zaya Rum and freshly squeezed fruit juice mixture over the top of each glass and then "float" the crimson colored Sorel liquor over the top
-Add a couple shakes of the Jerry Thomas Bitters over the top of each glass
-Add a splash or two of the pink grapefruit Perrier Sparkling water to finish
-Garnish with a long strip of grapefruit zest
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!
Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.