So I was looking at a couple of these bottles of “White Whiskey” in my cabinet and thinking to myself, “When on earth will I ever drink this?” Casting about for ways to spare my family the trouble of disposing it after my demise, I got to thinking about the origins of Gin on a base of pot still grain spirit. Then I was reminded that David Wondrich, in his awesome book, “Punch: The Delights and Dangers of the Flowing Bowl,” remarked that the John Collins was a type of punch.
In fact, Reza Esmaili (now of Long Bar & Bistro) once had a drink on the menu at the late lamented Conduit Restaurant called (I think) the Hanover Collins. It had Genevieve Gin, Lemon Juice, and sugar. When I asked about the name, he got enthusiastic and ran to get his notebook, so he could recite the following excerpt.
My name is John Collins,
head-waiter at Limmer’s,
The corner of Conduit Street,
My chief occupation is filling of brimmers,
To solace young gentlemen laden with care.
Supposedly, he informed me, the Collins was named after the head waiter at this particular establishment in honor of his wonderful Gin Punch.
Hm, if the Collins is a Punch, maybe I could use these unaged whiskies to replicate it. A sort of bottled Tom Collins Mix.
Well, why not?
Starting with the methods and proportions from my adaption of Jerry Thomas’ California Milk Punch, we’ll give it a try.
Conduit Street Punch
1 Bottle Tuthilltown Old Gristmill Unaged Corn Whiskey, 750ml
1 Bottle Tuthilltown Hudson Unaged Corn Whiskey, 375ml
1 Bottle Death’s Door White Whiskey, 750ml
.6 oz Juniper Berries, Crushed
1 TBSP Coriander, Crushed
1 tsp Celery Seed, Crushed
1 tsp Anise Seed, Crushed
1 Cassia Cinnamon Stick
6 Green Cardamom Pods, Crushed
1 Long Pepper Pod, Crushed
6 Seville Oranges
16 oz Water
16 oz Sugar
4 tsp Hubei Silver Tips Tea
1 Quart Straus Farms Milk
Zest citrus and add zest to Whiskies. Juice Oranges, 2 Lemons, and 2 limes. Strain, and add to aforementioned liquid. Add Spices. Allow to infuse for 48 hours.
Heat water and add tea. Steep 6 minutes and stir in sugar. Strain tea leaves out of syrup and chill.
Strain Peels and Spices out of Liquid. Juice other two lemons and add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Allow to stand undisturbed for 30 minutes and filter through cheesecloth, removing milk solids. Add Tea Syrup to filtered booze mixture and pour into clean containers. Allow to stand for a couple days*. Rack clear liquid off of any accumulated sediment into clean bottles and store. Chill well before serving. Serve on ice and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Makes about 3 quarts.
*If you have space in your refrigerator, storing the punch chilled will greatly accelerate the separation of the remaining milk solids from the other liquids.
Well, hm. Tasting this room temperature, last night, after the Milk step, I was struck by two things. First, the Celery Seed was a mistake. It has an unpleasant earthy flavor which distracts from the higher flavors of anise and juniper. Second, this doesn’t taste like it has any booze in it at all.
When I serve my Milk Punches to people, they often remark that they could easily drink a pint glass of them, they are so smooth. I generally discourage that, as, smoothness and drinkability aside, I am pretty sure the alcohol content is up near 25%. And those were the Milk Punches made from rough spirits like Batavia Arrack and Jamaican Rum. This one, made from unaged pot still clear whiskey, is on an another level of smoothness altogether. Is this vaguely herby citrus water or punch?
I’m not convinced this particular Milk Punch is super awesome, I wish I had left out the Celery Seed. But I will bring it along tomorrow night, Feb 27, 2011, for Savoy Night at Alembic Bar. Stop by and ask for a taste, if you are curious. But I recommend caution.
So, the celery seed element calmed down a lot after resting, and I have decided this is quite an enjoyable punch. The flavor is very light and somewhat reminiscent of Yellow Chartreuse. While fairly sweet, it has a somewhat dry presentation. It is really good, about 50-50 with chilled soda water, though still produces a pretty potent buzz.