Robertson Davies’ Punchbowl

A Spirited Finale

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Classic Home Desserts

By Richard Sax

Published 1994

  • About

Robertson Davies, one of my favorite novelists, once mentioned an alcoholic punch that was traditionally served by his family at celebrations. After repeated badgering, Mr. Davies was kind enough to send it to me. We made a bowl of this punch as this book was being finished.

Here is his recipe:


  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 quart of boiling China tea (teabags won’t do; must be freshly brewed and strong without being black)
  • 1


  1. Rub all the yellow of the skin of a big lemon with some of the sugar lumps. Put these ingredients together in a metal bowl—silver for preference.
  2. If the tea is boiling, you should be able to light the fumes with a match, which is very pretty.
  3. Pour the burning punch into glasses or cups; a china bowl may be used if necessary, but the punch does not fla