I’ve been tasked with bringing my cocktail knowledge back to Vermont this month, where I can attest, a good drink is scarcer than hen’s teeth, as they say in the Northeast, and finding a bottle of Fernet Branca is harder than Chinese algebra (another favorite Vermont colloquialism). My parents have asked me to play bartender at their holiday party, because their friends recently decided they all need a libation education. I’m up to the challenge, but they just made it tougher than boiled owl (I’ll just start putting these gems in italics) by letting the guest list soar into the 30s. So, while they all stand around chewing the rag (making smalltalk), I’ll be pouring a full spectrum of classic and contemporary cocktails. Making each by hand would be pretty rough sledding, but I think I’ll make a warm rum punch and batch a set of five or six great drinks with a menu on the bar. I reckon most will order off the menu and save me a frog hair more time to mingle and chat.
I wish I could transmit what a surreal experience I expect this to be, but you flatlanders (people from anywhere outside Vermont, regardless of topography) just wouldn’t understand.
This punch recipe is for my mother, who is sweet as apple cider, as they say.
1/3 cup whole cloves
1 750-ml bottle Puerto Rican rum
1/3 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 gallon Cold Hollow apple cider
Stud the clementines with cloves and bake at 350 until they get soft. In a large stock pot over the low heat, stir to combine the rum and sugar, then add the cinnamon and clementines. Set it aflame (this is not a backhanded tribute to my mother’s cooking) and very slowly pour in the cider, which will eventually put out the fire. Serve in a mug with a dollop of Ben and Jerry’s vanilla ice cream and a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.