Perfect for quenching your thirst over Christmas or New Year celebrations, McGhie’s punch recipe – from her cookbook Apple Blossom Pie – is made with brewed black tea and dry ginger ale, but can be spiked with alcohol if you wish.
In her introduction to the recipe, McGhie writes of punch: “Made properly, it’s a complex and daring drink that’s hundreds of years old. Sailors and employees of the British East India Company brought it to England from India in the early 1600s. The drink was originally made with five ingredients to reflect the five distinct elements necessary in punch: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water and tea or spices representing alcoholic, sweet, sour, bitter and weak.
“Present your punch in a pretty, large glass bowl and have a ladle and small glasses alongside. If you’re unfamiliar with drinking iced tea then adding cold, black tea to punch may seem odd. But trust me: the tea is subtle and helps bring out the other flavours.
“The punch must be served cold to be refreshing.”
Start to finish: 25 minutes serves : 12+
4 cups (1 litre) brewed black tea
1/3 cup (75g) caster (superfine) sugar
8 cups (2 litres) natural tropical fruit juice
1 orange, unpeeled and thinly sliced
2 medium Lebanese (short) cucumbers, unpeeled and thinly sliced
1 cup (180g) seedless green grapes, halved (optional)
A handful of fresh cherries
4 cups (1 litre) dry ginger ale
Pour the hot tea into a bowl, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Let the tea stand for about 10 minutes, then strain or remove the tea bags and refrigerate until cold.
Pour the fruit juice into a large bowl and add the tea, orange slices, cucumber slices, grapes and cherries. At this stage you can cover it and leave it refrigerated until required.
Just before serving add some ice cubes and pour in the dry ginger ale to spritz the punch.
Ladle the punch into small glass cups or glasses, making sure each guest receives some of the garnish. The punch is best made the day before to allow the flavours to develop.
Add a bit more …
If making the punch for adults and using spirits such as rum, vodka or tequila, reduce the amount of dry ginger ale and adjust for taste. Add about 1/2 cup (125 ml) of spirit or 3 cups (750 ml) of white wine to about 8 cups (2 litres) of punch. Don’t be tempted to add too much of any alcohol as the flavours will be out of balance and no one will be able to drink more than a few sips. I quite like sparkling white wine to replace most or all of the dry ginger.
Earl Grey or weak breakfast teas are the best teas to use. Seasonal berries are pretty additions.
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