Claret and Cognac were the two staples of the gentry of the age. Gin was still drunk only by the very poor (the Gin Craze was approaching full swing at the time) and scotch whisky was still relatively untamed and unaccessible. Lemons were a very expensive and sort-after ingredient in the 17th century, but these days we can afford to be a little more generous, so have doubled the measure she quoted.
At The Duchess we have taken the sweetener in the punch a substituted it for the Ottoman Shrub mix. The grassy notes of bayleaf and the fragrance of the lavender work beautifully with the soft rich flavour of the wine from Bordeaux while the velvet-like taste and flavour of almond harmoniously blind a touch more richness to the nut, plum and red-fruit synonymous with Grand Champagne Cognacs.
The use of tea was commonplace for punches recorded later that century, but the original in Hannah Woolley’s ‘Guide to the Female Sex’ calls only for boiled water. Black tea in our recipe serves two purposes. The first is to dilute and add fragrance, but it also give a long, complex and tannic finish. With the relatively low citrus content, this is what makes it a very good pairing option for food.
The Duchess signiature punch is based on one of the first recorded recipes for ‘punch’. This recipe was published in London in 1673 by an intriguing lady called Hannah Woolley in her book the Gentlewomans Companion. She was a maid to a wealthy lady in what is now the trendy suburb of Hackney in east London, and wrote the book when the death of her mistress put her out of employment.
300mls Martell VSOP
300mls Chateau Jean Faux - Bordeaux 2010
200mls Lemon Juice
400mls Ottoman Shrub Mix
600mls Black Tea
Stir until chilled
to a punch bowl or urn
And garnish with:
Strewn elegantly across the surface
Over Large Blocks of Ice