This Imperial Punch recipe comes from the 1895 Tested Recipe Cook Book, a compilation of Mrs. Henry Lumpkin Wilson's fellow housewives' recipes.
The Tested Recipe submissions range from sweetly esoteric to downright frightening. For example, Miss Mary L. Jackson's recipe for “Cheerfulness” calls for cooks to:
...take two parts of unselfishness, add as much fresh air as can easily be obtained, stir in two hours of ‘beauty sleep,’ a silver tongue (from the tip of which all spite has been removed) and an eye that looks out on the brighter side of life.
Yet Mrs. Frederick F. Lyden’s Diamond Back Terrapin recipe that appears in the book calls for seven female turtles to be submerged alive in boiling water. Somewhere in the middle is Mrs. JD Stocker’s Imperial Punch: a refreshing wine-based drink that makes cooking a little unusual (cucumber and nutmeg?), but not as bizarre as, say, live reptiles.
Tips for lazy boozers:
• Claret refers to a light wine from Bordeaux, France. I got a $9.99 bottle of Malbec from that region, and you could certainly find cheaper. If you can afford to get something in a bottle instead of a box, go for fruity over tannic.
• I used 3 tablespoons of sugar instead of 4 and it was enough.
• See the Hot Brandy Toddy recipe for a note on grated nutmeg!
• I used half a shot glass of maraschino – also enough. Any more, and you might just end up with cough syrup.
• I used about a third of a cucumber, tossing in thin slices until they covered the surface of the punch in the pitcher.
• Rather than mixing all the ingredients with ice as suggested, I just poured it over ice in individual glasses.
It’s warming and refreshing all at once, without being as sweet or juiced down as sangria – easy drinking for the early spring!