On the first day of Christmas… we bring you a Charles Dickens Punch!

micawber_custom-96a193f8d9bbd5c141d38a2a2aa8fe6192af09aa-s40-c85Lovely readers, Jaclyn and I have decided to share our love for the holiday season with you. In our “12 Days” series, we share the things we love about the holidays, including, of course, books.

On the first day, because it’s related to A Christmas Carol by author, which everyone knows is one of the classic tales of the Christmas season, we give you a recipe for one of Charles Dickens’ punches. That’s punch as in big bowl of alcoholic drink, not as in a fist to the face. I love punches, because they’re communal, social drinks. And drinking a hot punch during cold weather is one of my favorite things.

I discovered this a year or two ago on an NPR episode (the image above is also via the article). They do a better job of explaining it, so head over there to listen to their story.

I have tried this recipe once or twice, and I couldn’t seem to get the lighting-it-on-fire to remove enough of the alcohol, so I have ended up just simmering it, like you would do when mulling wine or cider. The following is a mix of Dickens’ own recipe and what I remember from the last few times I tried it.

Mr. Micawber’s Punch (Adapted)

  • 1 cup demerara (brown) sugar
  • 16 oz rum (I think I used dark)
  • 10 oz cognac
  • Rinds of 3 lemons, peeled with as little pith as possible
  • Juice of same 3 lemons
  • Quart of boiling water
  1. Muddle the sugar and the lemon peel in a fire-proof pot or bowl.
  2. Let sit for an hour or two so the sugar extracts some of the lemon oil from the peels.
  3. Add the rum and the brandy.
  4. Set the mixture on fire by filling a warm spoon (again, fire-proof, please! Not wood or plastic) with the spirit, lighting what’s in the spoon on fire, and pouring it gently into the bowl. (Sometimes I find it helps to heat the bowl on a low heat on the stove for a few minutes).
  5. Let it burn for three or four minutes.
  6. Cover the bowl or pot with a tray to smother the fires.
  7. Squeeze in the juice of the three lemons.
  8. Pour in the water.
  9. Stir, then cover it for five more minutes and stir it again.
  10. Keep warm on a low heat on the stove.
  11. Drink, and be merry!

punch on fire

It’s delicious, sweet and citrusy and not as strongly spiced as mulled wine, for those who aren’t fans of clovey, cinnamony drinks. A perfect drink for the cold winter season, and great for holiday gatherings.

Enjoy! And do share pictures and or stories if you try it!

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