|Pellet, who much resembles one of Boomer's fore-hamsters, Philo.|
Folks, I give you a little ditty over a year in the making [Boomer: G'night! (again)]. With all your prep for the Super Bowl this weekend, don't forget about Groundhog's Day Monday morning. You may need an eye-opener. Or, y'know, given the line-up this year you may skip the festivities entirely and go straight toasting the rodent [Boomer: yay!] the night before.
1/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz hickory syrup
1/2 oz cinnamon-infused Pennsylvania rye whiskey
1 1/2 oz tawny port (Sandeman)
1 1/2 oz hard cider (Woodchuck "Amber")
1 oz boiling water
nutmeg or orange slices for garnish
Ideally, fill a thermos with boiling water ahead of time, mix all your ingredients (save the boiling water) in a pot on the stove for a quick heating, then empty the thermos and add your punch mix plus the boiling water called for in the recipe. Twist on the lid and head off to Gobbler's Knob with the family to enjoy the festivities, sipping from little thermos cups.
If for some reason you're planning a viewing party spread at home, set out orange slices and nutmegs to grate for garnish - your guests can make their own prognostications! Orange slices for bright sunny spring around the corner, sleepy punch-y nutmeg for 6 more weeks of winter. Let the punch rest in a crock-pot set to Low for an hour or two before serving.
You get warm hickory and cinnamon on the nose with a dance of citrus. For such a small amount, the hickory grabs your tastebuds from the get-go and provides a lovely body to the sip. Afterwards you pick up the cider-y tang undergirded by the lemon juice, and then a rolling creaminess from the port - the apple and grape dance well together. A hint of menthol and spice from the rye comes through last, but is not so overt that it throws all the other ingredients off - in fact it pairs nicely with the hickory. Wonderful dry finish from the cider. It's not Chatham Artillery by any means, but it works.
On the ingredients: despite the name, I would avoid Rittenhouse rye here: too potent and not rough-spicy enough. Local PA distillers Dad's Hat and super-new reboot Kinsey, or even Old Overholt fit the punch. If without hickory syrup, maple will do in a pinch, though it has a wonderful quality all its own; you don't have to make it either do a quick search for local providers such as Razz's. The port? I like Sandeman for its black pepper note - it makes me think of the Pittsburgh area for some reason.