Captain Radcliffe’s Punch is a traditional libation inspired by a romantic poem by the 17th-century English army captain Alexander Radcliffe.
- 4 lemons
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cup sweet white wine (preferably sauternes)
- 1 (750ml) bottle VSOP cognac
- 6 cup chilled water
- freshly grated nutmeg (to taste)
Using a peeler, peel lemons, taking off as little white pith as possible. Transfer peels to a heavy bowl; reserve lemons. Add sugar; use a muddler or a wooden spoon to vigorously crush sugar and peels together until the sugar turns faintly yellow and slushy.
Juice the reserved lemons and add the juice to the bowl along with the peels. Stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a punch bowl; strain the lemon and sugar mixture into the punch bowl; discard solids. Stir in the wine and the brandy. Chill. To serve, stir in water and place a large block of ice in the bowl. Garnish with nutmeg.