Hot Punch

the Publication of a Christmas Carol

Dec 19

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

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the Publication of a Christmas Carol
Hot Punch
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Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"Bob, turning up his cuffs—as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made more shabby—compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer."

~ A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, 1843

A favorite celebratory beverage, punch appears everywhere in Dickens' novels whenever a drop of good cheer is called for, most famously at the Cratchit's Christmas dinner in "A Christmas Carol." Ten years after its publication, Charles Dickens began to give public performances of his work. On performance days Dickens stuck to a rather bizarre, punch-related routine. He had two tablespoons of rum flavoured with fresh cream for breakfast, a pint of champagne for tea, and half an hour before the start of his performance, would drink a raw egg beaten into a tumbler of sherry. Dickens' favorite hot gin punch contained Hendrick's gin, Madeira, dark brown sugar, lemon peel, orange peel, 1 pineapple, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg!

Hot Punch

The dance "Hot Punch," notes a favorite celebratory beverage of Charles Dickens, whose famous novella, "A Christmas Carol, was published this day in London, by Chapman & Hall in 1843.

 

Punch appears everywhere in his novels, whenever a drop of good cheer is called for, most famously at the Cratchit's Christmas dinner in "A Christmas Carol." A Christmas Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.

 

One of literature’s most memorable feasts, hosted by the family of Scrooge's underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit,includes the “phenomenon” of a roast goose, bursting with sage and onion, Mrs. Cratchit’s plum pudding, decked with holly and flaming “like a speckled cannon-ball.” And the “hot stuff from the jug” made by Bob Cratchit himself."Bob, turning up his cuffs—as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made more shabby—compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer."

 

10 years after its publication, Charles Dickens began to give public performances of his work. Prior to this time, no great author had performed their works in public and for profit, which many thought beneath Dickens’ calling as a writer and a gentleman. On performance days Dickens stuck to a rather bizarre, punch-related routine. He had two tablespoons of rum flavoured with fresh cream for breakfast, a pint of champagne for tea, and half an hour before the start of his performance, would drink a raw egg beaten into a tumbler of sherry. During the five-minute interval, he invariably consumed a quick cup of beef tea, and always retired to bed with a bowl of soup.

 

Thanks to Cedric Dickens, the great-grandson of Charles, his book, "Drinking With Dickens", recreates the “delectable drinks” Dickensian characters would have enjoyed, and also includes the famed author’s personal 1850 recipe for hot gin punch.

 

Adapted from Drinking With Dickens, here is an authentic period punch:

 

Bob Cratchit’s Hot Gin Punch

 

Yield: 6 servings


Time: About 30 minutes

2 cups Hendrick’s gin 
2 cups sweet Madeira wine 
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, or more to taste
Peel and juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
Peel and juice of 1 orange
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced
3 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
Pinch of ground nutmeg

Put all the ingredients in a medium pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes; taste and adjust the balance of flavors with more brown sugar or more lemon juice if desired. Pour the mixture into a jug or teapot and serve warm.

 

For more on punch variations and feasting in the novels of Dickens, click the picture below:

Hot Punch
Hot Punch

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The majority of dance descriptions referenced on this site have been taken from the

 

Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary or the

Scottish Country Dancing Database 

 

Snapshots of dance descriptions are provided as an overview only.  As updates may have occurred, please click the dance description to be forwarded to a printable dance description or one of the official reference sources.

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