Charleston’s winter social season is no less festive than it was 200 years ago, when balls were given nearly every night in January and February. Today the season runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, but the socializing—and drinking—are still legend in the port city. Most people opt for glasses of white wine or cocktails these days, but I love to serve a big bowl of punch once a year. Many of the beverages in Charleston Receipts are Champagne- and tea-based punches. This tea is not the orange pekoe tea drunk cold at dinner, but green, uncured tea. A good formula includes a quart of green tea, a pint of brandy, a pint of ratifia (or a flavored brandy of your choice), thin slices of a half-dozen lemons and a half-dozen oranges, a quart of dark rum, and, just before serving, 4 quarts of Champagne and 4 quarts of seltzer. Charleston Receipts advises, “And never forget that punch stock should be poured over a block of ice and served cold, cold, cold!” Cut the top out of a gallon plastic milk or water jug and fill with water to make a block of ice that is the perfect size for a 5-gallon punch bowl.

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