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Curaçao Punch

From Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails

0.5 Tbsp Sugar
2 or 3 Dashes Lemon Juice
1 oz Soda Water
1 oz Remy Martin Cognac
2 oz Orange Liqueur (a Curaçao  recommended, obviously)
1 oz

In a goblet, combine Sugar, Lemon Juice, and Soda.  Stir to Dissolve.
Fill goblet with crushed or shaved ice.
Add remaining ingredients.  Stir well.
Garnish like Carmen Miranda’s head.
Serve with a straw.

(Note:  Adjust sugar and lemon to taste)


* * *

I’m glad I’m not a popular thing.  It has to be extremely difficult living up to everyone’s expectations — each new accolade just propping you up for a higher fall.  Like the Segway.  It must be difficult when your last album sold billions.  Like Eminem.  And it must be nail-biting when the critics of the world proclaim you the prophet of the written word.  Like Salinger.  Fame is fickle, and the more the public is told to expect of you, the greater the opportunity to disappoint.  Like Curaçao  Punch.

Not only does Ted Haigh include Curaçao  Punch in his “Vintage Spirits…” — giving it immediate clout, in my book — he tells us that it’s the favorite forgotten potion of Dale DeGroff, high priest of the cocktail and bringer of The Fitzgerald.  In drinking terms, that’s the equivalent of Siskel returning from the great beyond to give your movie a Thumbs Up.  In short, I had high expectations.

The base of the drink is a fizzy sour mix that’s essentially sparkling lemonade.   As the soda meets the sugar, the whole thing starts bubbling, making this punch a beautiful one to assemble in front of a guest.  Like the Mint Julep, the glass is then filled with a mound of crushed or shaved ice, and the spirits and liqueur are poured over the top.  Traditionally, the Julep isn’t stirred, so I was glad to see that Haigh’s recipe said to give this one a good stir (I would have anyway).  Next, every fruit in Christendom is piled on top, making the whole thing look like it was delivered by Harry & David.

Before we get to the “So, how did it taste?” part, I’m going to finish my initial sentiment.  When everyone says how great you are, it’s nearly impossible to meet, if not exceed, expectations. I can count the times in my life where I’ve put foot forward expecting the best (because everyone told me I should) and getting so very much more.  The French Laundry, Chez Panisse, Lawrence of Arabia, Inception.  And the Curaçao Punch.

This is a perfect, perfect drink.  I love punches, but this is everything a drink should be.  It’s also a Trojan Horse — beautiful to regard, it slips through the gates so easily that only later will you consider the army that lurks in wait.

Beware of fruit bearing gifts, I suppose.  Or, capitulate and welcome them with open arms.

Esoterica: Unlike many of our drinks, the Curaçao  Punch shows up just about everywhere — for good reason.  The most interesting variation comes in William “The Only William” Schmidt’s The Flowing Bowl.  The Only William was the acknowledged successor to Jerry Thomas, and as brilliant as he was, he was also a bit mad.  His version calls for ice cream on top.  If you try it, tell me how it is.

    Comments ( 5 )

  • Geoff

    Too soon with a segway falling joke.

  • Nick

    I made one of these yesterday and it was lovely. I used Smith and Cross for the rum which pretty much took over the drink, but I could still taste the orange coming through. I thought you were going to say you didn’t like it!

    • Nick, so glad you tried the drink. The Pusser’s is a very soft rum when it comes to the alcohol harshness, which is one of the reasons I went in that direction.

      As for implying that I wasn’t going to like it, that was the intended dramatic misdirection of the post. I watch too much Top Gear.

  • [...] The official language is Dutch, however most of Curaçao diverse population of approx. 160.000,00 is quadrillingual speaking Dutch, English and Spanish as well as the native language Papiamento. A few words of the latter will carry you a long way but if there is one word to remember to discover the local cuisine, it is pastechi! Don’t forget to wash it down with a fancy cocktail. [...]

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