Punch (No Judy)

Brian and I hosted our first party in our current apartment this weekend. It was, technically, a laughably late housewarming party - we had moved in one day shy of a year previously - but really it was just a way to convince all of our friends, many of whom live on the other side of town, to come out and visit us. 
I'd actually never thrown a party before, and Brian had never thrown a party that wasn't an out and out rager, so we were a little nervous about making sure everything came together. I ended up buying way more food than we actually needed (but hey, leftover cheese is still cheese!), and Brian and I spent the last couple of hours before the party finding out of the way places to hide all of our unsightly housewares, but between the food, the music, the punch, and the wonderful people who came out to see us, I would have to call it an unmitigated success.
Brian inherited an amazing crystal bunch bowl, complete with two dozen tiny cups and a ladle. He'd never had an opportunity to use it before, so when we decided to have our party, we knew that we had to bust it out. He found this deliciously boozy recipe online, and although making punch was a new experience for him, it was a really fun one.
There are quite a few reasons that I would recommend making a batch of punch for your next party. It's actually very cost effective - because it's a mixed drink, with sugar and lemons added, it's not as important to buy really high quality ingredients. It's an easy way to serve a lot of people at once, and putting it together is definitely a bit of a wow moment. I will certainly be pulling this recipe out of my back pocket at some future party, and not just because I ended up buying twice as much booze as we needed!

Servings: 18 - 20
Yield: 12 cups
  • 12 lemons (for peels and juice)
  • 2 cups sugar, raw & fine-grained
  • 750 ml Jamaican rum
  • 750 ml cognac, VSOP
  • 750 ml madeira (preferably verdehlo)
Glassware: rocks
  1. In a large bowl add sugar and the peels of 12 lemons, and rub together to release the citrus oils into the sugar. (This is called oleo-saccharum).
  2. Let sit for an hour or so to infuse thoroughly.
  3. Juice as many lemons as needed to obtain 16 ounces of lemon juice, and strain.
  4. Add to the oleo-saccharum and stir until dissolved.
  5. Add rum, cognac and madeira and stir.
  6. Pour into a punch bowl one-third-filled with ice and let cool.

Have you ever made punch for a party? Would you?