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Charles Dickens - Winter Punch

Abigail Diaz

A couple of weeks ago I served cocktails at The Class Room for their pre- party / meet & greet for SOSUPERSAM.  The event was a great success and the vibe was just right for an evening of sick beats and boozy cocktails. I really wanted to do something different from the usual cocktail regime than I am used to doing. So with enough thought and prep I stumbled across this awesome Cognac-Rum Punch called the Charles Dickens in a NYT article. Just a brief history on the name, Charles Dickens the author loved making punch while entertaining guests in the middle of the 19th century. At that time, punch had become somewhat out of date, but if you are familiar with Charles Dickens he was a bit of an antiquarian. So for him, this tradition of making punch was something personal.   

Punch should not be the strength of a cocktail, it is meant to be a social drink. It should encourage you to return for another glass, so you have the chance to chat with someone else. The whole punch ritual should be a staple for any social gathering. 

I was intrigued and wanted to make this delicious sounding punch for the evening. Below is the recipe and steps to making it. Based on the responses it was a grand success! Guests loved the punch and were so surprised to know exactly how much booze was in the cocktail. The key to a great punch is to make sure that you can't taste the booze. Once you have that covered, you are on the path to a great night of spirits and joy.


  • 4- 5 Lemons
  • 3/4 cup Demerara Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Amber or Aged Rum (I used Mt. Gay Black Barrel)
  • 1 1/4 Jamaican Rum (preferably 100 proof) I used Mt. Gay Eclipse as I did not set fire to the punch & this is a rum from Barbados.
  • 1 cup Rémy Martin V.S.O.P.
  • Freshly grated Nutmeg, as needed


  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of 2 lemons. Drop into a large heatproof bowl (or use a fireproof bowl if you plan to set the punch on fire) and combine with sugar. Muddle together with a muddler, pestle or the back of a wooden spoon. Let mixture sit for at least 3 hours to infuse (or infuse overnight).
  • Squeeze juice into a measuring cup. Halve lemons and squeeze lemon juice into the measuring cup to make 3/4 cup juice in total. (Save any unsqueezed lemon halves for another purpose.)
  • When ready to serve, bring 1 quart water to a boil. Pour rum and cognac into the bowl with the sugar and peels. If you want to flame the punch, do so now; see note below.
  • Add reserved citrus juice and boiling water and stir well. Grate nutmeg over top of punch and ladle into glasses.
  • NOTE: If you want to set the punch on fire, first make sure your bowl is fireproof. Silver or another metal is ideal; wood or tempered glass is not. Just after Step 3, use a fireproof long-handled bar spoon or ladle to remove a spoonful of the alcohol mixture, then light it on fire. Return spoon to bowl to ignite remaining punch. Stir flaming punch to help dissolve sugar; let it burn for a minute or two. To extinguish fire, place a metal tray over bowl. Proceed with recipe.