In my quest to go through all the drinks in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails I have had to search out several hard to find ingredients.  However there are several ingredients that are simply not available in the western hemisphere, Swedish Punsch, a traditional Nordic liqueur produced from a blend of arrack, sugar, water, citrus, and spices, being one of them. So, since this ingredient is not available commercially to me, I must make my own. Sounds easy enough right.

Well, while most of the ingredients are easily found in any grocery store, arrack is an ingredient that is difficult to find. Arrack is an alcohol distilled mainly in South East Asia from fermented fruit, grain, sugarcane, or the sap of coconut palms, and not to be confused with the middle eastern Arak, which is an anise flavored liquor similar to Ouzo. There are several versions of arrack being produced around the world, but only one will do for the Swedish Punsch. The particular variety we are looking for is Batavia Arrack. Distilled in Indonesia from sugarcane fermented with red rice cakes, it has a raw, funky flavor profile similar to Cachaça. Luckily for me, the import company Haus Alpenz that has made creme de violette, and allspice dram available, has also been importing Batavia Arrack into the US as well. If you can’t find it in your local liquor store, it can be ordered from So with all my ingredients in hand, I set about to make my punsch.

My next step was to decide on a recipe. I looked at dozens of recipes and ultimately settled on Eric Ellestad’s recipe for Tales of the Cocktail 2008. While I used Eric’s recipe, I scaled it back as I didn’t really want to end up with 3 liters of Punsch.

Underhill Punsch–Tales Version

2 750ml Bottles of El Dorado 5 Year Demarara Rum
1 750ml Bottle Batavia Arrack van Oosten.
8 lemons, sliced thin and seeded.
750ml Water.
8 teaspoons Yunnan Fancy China Black Tea.
2 crushed cardamom pods.
4 cups Washed Raw Sugar.
This makes a bit more than 3 litres.

Put sliced lemon in a resealable non-reactive container(s). Pour Rum and Batavia Arrack over lemons. Cover and steep for 6 hours.
Heat water and steep tea and cardamom in it for the usual 6 minutes. Pour through cheesecloth to remove tea leaves and cardamom pods.
Dissolve sugar in hot tea and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.
After 6 hours, pour rum off of sliced citrus, without squeezing fruit.
Combine tea syrup and flavored rum. Filter and bottle in a clean sealable container(s). Age at least overnight and enjoy where Swedish Punch is called for.

This makes a great tasting liqueur that I look forward to using in several cocktails. Try it and let me know what you think. Cheers!