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X is for Xalapa Punch

Punch. It has inspired prose, converted voters, passed legislation, kept nations warm in winter, defined Christmas, and ultimately given birth to our modern cocktail. It’s worth taking a deeper look at before you sip. 

To begin with, punch is old, and we mean really old. While the word ‘cocktail’ can be found in use around the late 18th century, the earliest discovered use of the word ‘punch’ dates all the way back to 1632. To put this into context, this is the same year construction began on the Taj Mahal, pilgrims had yet to settle in America, and Galileo is called into the Inquisition for his belief that the sun lies in the heart of the universe and not the Earth.

The history of punch is especially linked to India, where sailors for the British East India Company are said to have first encountered the drink in the early 17th century. While traveling, they turned to the ingredients they could find locally, including arrack (a palm-based spirit common to South Asia) or, in the West Indies, rum. The addition of local fruit and spices, including nutmeg and mace, was the next step towards establishing punch’s flavor profile.

Now, let’s get into Xalapa Punch. Jalapeño is Spanish for “from Xalapa” (also spelled Jalapa). You’d probably think from the name that this punch is the signature drink of Xalapa, Mexico. In actuality, this recipe was first published in The Blue Grass Cook Book, it probably means the origin of the punch has ties to Xalapa Farm in Paris, Kentucky instead of Mexico. 

No matter where it hails from, if you fancy a punch a little different from the norm, look no further than this one. A fantastic combination of bitter, sweet, and fruity flavors makes this a fan favorite. The end product was a delightful lemon-flavored tea and sangria hybrid. This punch is not overly boozy-tasting but still packs some heat.

Food by Letter Recipes

Want to try it for yourself? Check out our recipe below:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups hot Metolius Black & Gold black tea
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 quart Myers’s Original dark rum
  • 1 quart Clear Creek Distillery apple brandy
  • 1 quart Vega Sindoa Tempranillo dry red wine
  • 3 oranges
  • 2 lemons

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the hot black tea and rind of two oranges (grate with carrot peeler or cheese grater).
  2. Heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Add the honey and stir until dissolved. Pour into a punch bowl with ice.
  4. Add the amber rum, apple brandy, and dry red wine. Stir.
  5. Garnish with diced oranges and lemons.
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