portrait of a cocktail // bombay government punch

This is not your grandmother’s punch. Bombay Government Punch is a deliciously fierce elixir concocted by the English Governor of Bombay, Sir John Gayer, back in 1694. Throw out your notions of dowdy pink punch, and usher in a rich and complex cocktail, that just happens to be served in a huge bowl.

I know, I know. This might not be the prettiest punch to look at. (I happen to enjoy its beautiful amber glow.) But I promise everyone who sips this for the first time says the exact same thing, with the exact same wide-eyed expression. Whoa! This is delicious! And then they guzzle it. There are so many layers of flavor to this punch, it’s impossible to not go back for more.

Did you know that making punch is a bit of a science experiment? A true punch follows the proper proportions. For example, our punch here is based on the oldest and most classic ratio: 1 sour (lime juice), 2 sweet (mandarin orange syrup), 3 strong (the booze), and 4 weak (black tea). Once you have this ratio down, you can make any quantity of punch, like maybe just cocktails for two, or you can start to sub out the different elements. Instead of lime juice you could use lemon, instead of black tea, try green. The possibilities are endless!

portrait of a cocktail // bombay government punch

There are a lot of steps to this punch, but in the end it’s so worth it. Instead of having to mix drinks on the spot for guests, everyone can just help themselves. The ice block is beautiful and, as it melts, the mandarin slices begin to garnish the drink.

Ingredients for punch:

  • 13 oz lime juice (about 13 limes)
  • 3 cups mandarin orange syrup (directions below)
  • 1 bottle dark rum (750 ml bottle)
  • 1/2 bottle VSOP cognac (750 ml bottle)
  • 6 1/2 cups water
  • 3 black tea bags
  • 20 dashes of orange bitters
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 ice block (directions below)

Boil 6 1/5 cups of water. Once boiling, turn off heat and steep 3 tea bags for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, remove tea bags and let tea cool to room temperature. Combine cooled tea and syrup in punch bowl with lime juice, rum and cognac. Add bitters and sprinkle in cinnamon. Give it a strong stir to make sure the cinnamon doesn’t clump. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, but no longer than a day if you’ve prepped ahead of time. About 30 minutes before serving remove punch from your fridge and add the ice block. This last step is important. The punch is much better once the ice has melted a little bit.

portrait of a cocktail // bombay government punch

Ingredients for mandarin orange syrup:

  • 3 cups demerara or turbinada sugar (This is real brown sugar and can be found at just about any grocery store.)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 5 mandarins, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat. Watch the pot closely, once it reaches a simmer remove from heat. Stir occasionally to make sure all the sugar is dissolved and to help release juice and oils from the mandarins. Let syrup cool completely.

Ingredients for ice block:

  • water
  • 7 mandarins, thinly sliced
  • loaf pan

Place 1 layer of mandarin slices at the bottom of the loaf pan and enough water to just cover the slices. Place in the freezer about 2 hours, then add another layer of slices and water. Let this layer freeze for 2 hours. Repeat these steps until the loaf pan is full. I recommend doing this the day before so that it has all night to set and freeze. To remove the ice block from the pan turn it upside in your sink and run hot water over the pan until you hear the block fall out.

portrait of a cocktail // bombay government punch

Cin cin!
Eva

P.S. More cocktail recipes!

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Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest digital influencer and former textile designer with an eye for beautiful things. Jojotastic is a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress home, interior styling, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style.

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