Saturday, November 12, 2011


Some years ago, my extended family invited me to go with them on a trip to Vienna. Why? Just to be nice. We were there for Thanksgiving, and the Weinachtmarkts (Christmas Markets- like at Union Square, but EVERYWHERE) were open in full swing. Everywhere were hanging meats, chestnuts roasting in big kettles, small chachkas and gewgaws. It was cold, unbelievably cold for mid-November. It felt more like February. One thing I noticed to my surprise was the frequncy of men wearing hats- real hats, not baseball caps. That and furs. Women everywhere wore furs, real ones. But naturally, nothing quite warms like real fur, but here in the states, people either wear fake fur coats, or very rarely wear real ones because of the stigma against real fur. Which is stupid, in my opinion. I eat the meat, why not wear the skin? In fact, it seems a bit of a waste, but whatever.

Of course, I've always wanted to club my own baby seal, but that's just me.

In any case, one of my favorite things to do was wander the streets of Vienna, gradually growing colder. When I got cold enough, I would just stop at a nearby Punsch stand and buy a mug of Punsch, then be warmed up and walk on a little further. Punsch is punch, of course, but they had dozens of flavors and varieties, all of it hot, refreshing, and nicely alcoholic. I finally asked what went into making them, and I was told that they used a nice red wine, some tea, and fruit juice. Hunh, thought I. Not what I expected.

I miss Punsch, so I decided that tonight I'm going to make some. My recipe will be as follows, although possibly halved. When you drink it, think of the beautiful city of Vienna, where I smoked in the Natural History Museum.

12 cups red wine
4 cups of black tea
2/3 cup of Austrian rum (80vol% alcohol), if you have to use carribean rum, take 1 1/3 cup
6 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks of cinnamon, a few cloves
some orange peel

Put everything into a big pot and gently heat but do not boil. Remember that alcohol boils at 79 degrees C, so if you heat it too much, you'll drive off all the lovely alcohol.

Edit: The verdict is in- both Kirsten and I think it tastes exactly like what we had in Vienna. I made up the black tea (Lipton's) and set it aside to steep. Once it had, that went into an enamelled cast iron pot. Still ery hot, but nowhere near boiling. Heat was turned on underneath and ~ 2 liters of a red cabernet was added (an inexpensive box wine). I dumped in a fifth of Bacardi silver (200 mL). I was running low on space by that point, so I only added ~2 cups or so of orange juice (poured in without measuring). 1/2 cup sugar was on the money, 2 short but fat cinnamon sticks and 5-6 cloves were added as well as the zest of one orange. Because the tea was so hot, this required very little heating to get it where it was going, and it was greatly enjoyed by all on such a cold night as this. I will definately be making it again in the future!