The process of muddling lemon peel and sugar is called oleosaccharum, from the Latin meaning “oil sugar.” The technique, which originated in the 1600s, releases fragrant oils from the citrus rind into the sugar, creating a wonderful floral taste that forms the backbone of the punch. A sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg on top adds a warm, soothing, fragrant layer to the punch, which is remarkably complex-flavored despite having only six ingredients. Ruby Port has spent less time cask-aging than tawny Port, and so is a little more sweet and fruity, perfect in this drink. This is a lower-alcohol drink, a great quality in a punch that’s meant to refresh as much as relax.
How to Make It
Remove peel from three lemons using a vegetable peeler, avoiding white pith. Combine peels and sugar in a 3-quart bowl; muddle. Let stand 1 hour.
Squeeze all 5 lemons through a strainer into a bowl to extract 3/4 cup juice. Stir juice into sugar mixture. Add liqueur, port, and sparkling water; stir gently. Carefully slide in ice block or cubes. Chill 20 minutes. Grate one-third of nutmeg seed over punch. Garnish with lemon slices, if desired.