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The crowd-pleasing power of punch

Jerry Slater peels lemons to make oleo-saccharum, the basis for his good Cadet punch.

Jerry Slater peels lemons to make oleo-saccharum, the basis for his good Cadet punch.

Back in December I wrote a holiday story about punch for the AJC Sunday section. I talked with Jerry Slater, a whiskey expert and the owner of the Reynoldstown bar and restaurant, H. Harper Station, who offered some fascinating perspectives on the crowd-pleasing power of punch, along with a couple of recipes.

In case you missed it, you can read it free today here. And you can check out some really cool photos Phil Skinner took of Slater mixing up his rye whiskey-powered Cadet Punch — a simplified version of the historic Chatham Artillery Punch that he makes by muddling lemon peels and sugar together to create oleo-saccharum, an ambrosial essence that’s the basis for many other classic punch recipes.

I’m thinking a bowl of Cadet Punch would be a convivial antidote for all the bad weather and bad feelings hovering around Atlanta, lately. Slater says the flavor is like a really good old fashioned. I agree. And I bet it would be perfect for any Super Bowl party where a crowd of whiskey lovers are gathered.

Here’s the recipe:

Cadet Punch

For the oleo-saccharum

4 lemons

8 ounces sugar

Peel lemons with a vegetable peeler, avoiding the white pith. Toss the lemon peel and sugar together in a bowl. Pour lemon peel and sugar mixture into a vacuum seal bag and seal according to the manufacture’s instructions. Let lemon peel and sugar break down in the bag for 4 to 6 hours. Stir again before using. Alternately, the mix can be muddled and then allowed to rest for an hour until the sugar melts.

For the punch

Oleo-saccharum (see recipe)

1 750 ml bottle rye whiskey

12 hard shakes Angostura bitters

750 ml ice cold water, you can use empty rye bottle for measuring

Sliced lemon wheels for garnish

Large block ice

You can make a large block of ice using a plastic quart container or bundt cake mold, or any shape you want, really. Ice can be removed by dipping container in hot water.

In a large punch bowl, add oleo-saccharum, including peel. Add rye and stir until any un-melted sugar dissolves. Add bitters and stir. Add cold water and stir. Add large block of ice and stir to cool. Garnish with lemon wheels. Ladle into cups and enjoy.

— By Bob Townsend for the AJC Food and More blog.

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