Excerpted from David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson’s The 12 Bottle Bar.
We first discovered Pope in Richard Cook’s Oxford Night Caps: A Collection of Receipts for Making Various Beverages Used in the University (1827). The students, and professors surely, at Oxford, knew a thing or two about drinking, and Oxford Night Caps chronicles this admirably.
Pope is a fancy variation on Bishop, one of the great British holiday punches. Instead of mulled port, however, it opts for a lighter take on the spiced bowl, using Champagne. A word of warning—Pope is a lot of work, but it’s not hard work, and the subtle but refined result is well worth the effort, especially if a punch is the centerpiece of your party.
- 2 lemons
- 15 whole cloves
- 2 ounces light brown or raw sugar, such as Demerara
- ¼ stick cinnamon
- 3 to 4 whole allspice berries
- ¼ teaspoon roughly chopped whole mace
- 2 cups water
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 1 bottle (750 ml) Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
- Fresh whole nutmeg, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Stud one of the lemons with 12 of the cloves, place it on the baking sheet, and roast it in the oven until the lemon weeps juice, the peel turns golden, and the lemon feels inflated to the touch, 2 hours.
- Meanwhile peel away the zest from the second lemon with a vegetable peeler, removing as little of the white pith as possible; set aside the peeled fruit. Combine the peel with the sugar in a medium bowl and set it aside for 1 hour.
- Combine the cinnamon, remaining cloves, allspice, and mace with the 2 cups water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring it to a boil, and boil until the water is reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Juice the peeled lemon and set the juice aside. Combine the flesh of the juiced lemon with the boiling water in a small heatproof bowl and let it steep, 5 minutes.
- Add the reserved lemon juice to the sugar and peel, then add 1 ounce of the hot “lemon” water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove and discard the lemon peel.
- Strain the spiced water into the sugar syrup through a fine-mesh sieve; discard the solids. Add the hot roasted lemon. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then remove and discard the roasted lemon and transfer the liquid to an airtight container; refrigerate until needed, up to 24 hours.
- To serve, combine the spiced lemon mixture with the Champagne in a chilled punch bowl and garnish with a grating of nutmeg.