Have you ever been down South? If you have, would you say that you’ve been there in the summer? And if you say yes, you’d be correct in asserting that the long summer season in the South can make your shirt stick to your back. Not only does it get hot down South in the summer, but also you require something other than soda to get refreshment. by Warren Bobrow
Soda pop refreshment only lasts so long until you crave another one. You see, it’s the sugar in the soda that makes you thirstier.
I’m a fanatic for freshly squeezed juices in hot weather. There is something to be said for the way citrus juice, especially lemon and lime in conjunction with each other along with a touch of simple syrup quenches your thirst. This isn’t your usual lemonade, but it is a hybrid of sorts. You see, back in the early days of our country many of the manual labor jobs had not yet been automated. In the modern age we take for granted the skill and strength it takes to form a bale of hay. Imagine being out in the blazing sun for hours at a time. Combine backbreaking labor and clothing that covered almost your entire body. Making hay isn’t just a term for working; it’s much more than that.
What making hay requires are muscles! So you’re out in the field surrounded by chest high grasses. Any part of you that is exposed is going to be cut by the sharp hay, that’s why you’re covered up. It’s hot and your thirst is burning a hole right in your throat.
This is decades before canned soda or even bottled beer, so what are you going to drink? If you were out in the field making hay, the Haymaker’s Punch would be for available for you!
But what goes into a Haymaker’s Punch, and why is this important on a hot day?
The Haymaker’s Punch is designed to quench thirst and keep the electrolyte level up in the body. This punch was the energy drink for workers in the fields doing their strenuous work. A few years after the Haymaker’s Punch came to the farmer’s fields, enterprising college students adapted this recipe and added their own embellishments. Some of these included whiskey, brandy, champagne, or a combination of them all.
May I recommend a few changes to the classic? Recently I dined at a local Vietnamese restaurant. They were making freshly squeezed lemonade and sprinkling a touch of fleur de sel over the top. What this action of salting something sweet does is stimulate your appetite and digestion. Sometimes the salted lemonade is made with salty, preserved lemons and simple syrup. It is a haunting combination that doesn’t cost much to make. In fact the best lemons for the task are the ones that have gone soft. Go figure!
I took a portion of my homemade lemonade and added a small measure of white balsamic vinegar (just a capful really) and adjusted the sweetness with a bit more simple syrup as necessary. My simple syrup uses Vietnamese Palm Sugar and I know it is available because of the health benefits of this unique product. I do a 1:1 ratio of boiling water to sugar and then heat to your desired thickness and color. It’s really important to let this stuff cool well and combine the flavors.
Next I take some bourbon whiskey like the brilliant, yet not overly priced- Four Roses Yellow Label. There is something to be said for Four Roses. First of all comes the quality of the grains. They are making great bourbon at all levels in this historic company. When I mix lemonade with Four Roses, I may not want to spill too many drops of their high-end single barrel expressions. But the Yellow Label is just perfect for this task.
Just try it and see.
Next, my friend Jackie Summers is producing a liqueur over in Brooklyn that speaks clearly of passion. Sorel is the name of his unique liqueur and it belongs in my modern adaptation of the Haymaker’s Punch because of the historic realm of the ingredients. He uses healing and thirst quenching ingredients like cassia, (great for digestion) Hibiscus, (effective on certain virility issues) nutmeg, (virility again) cloves, (digestion) and ginger. (Seasickness, general digestive and stomach issues) I love using Sorel in my version of the Haymaker’s Punch along with the Four Roses Bourbon because the sweetness of the Sorel tempers the fire of the bourbon. You really must try it with something like gumbo. And the air temperature should be somewhere north of ninety degrees. That is for certain.
Bitters are equally as important in cocktails as many of the more popular alcoholic ingredients.
Urban Haymaker’s Punch
Ingredients for ten persons
- 750ml Four Roses Bourbon
- 1 bottle of Sorel
- 750 ml plain seltzer
- 1 cup Palm Sugar Simple Syrup
- 2quarts freshly squeezed
- 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel
- 5 dashes of Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters
- ½ cup white Balsamic Vinegar
- Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl and stir, applying the bitters at the end
- Serve with a ladle into teacups; sprinkle a tiny pinch of fleur de sel over the top of each of the teacups just before serving