This Maybelle punch is a classic cocktail that brings together rum, Cognac, a citrus-infused syrup, and a splash of ginger beer. Perfect for holiday—or, heck, anytime—imbibing.
Maybelle Carter was one of the most beautiful voices in the world, and she inspired thousands more. Similarly, this concoction can bring forth the songbird in you. This punch is full of earthy flavors, which will free and soothe you. This is a good drink for the cool days of fall and one that might just get your voice a little louder.–John Currence
What is Maybelle Punch?
This old-fashioned yet still-relevant entertaining mainstay is a classic that offers a slightly sweet, gingery libation that’s deceptively potent.
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 navel oranges preferably organic, zest grated and pulp roughly chopped, reserving some unzested orange zest for garnish
- 1/2 cup bottled Luxardo maraschino cherries plus 1/4 cup of their juice and more cherries for garnish
- 1 1/2 inch piece ginger root peeled and sliced
- 12 fresh mint leaves
- 8 ounces gold rum
- 1 (26-ounce) bottle Cognac or brandy
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons molasses (NOT blackstrap molasses)
- Ginger beer for serving
- Orange zest curl or fresh mint for garnish
- In a large bowl using the back of a spoon, muddle the sugar, orange zest and pulp (including the juice), cherries, ginger, and mint until a thick mixture forms that gives off a thick syrup, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the rum and stir until the sugar dissolves. Strain the syrup into a large pitcher or container, pressing on the solids to extract more syrup. Reserve the solids for something else, perhaps spooning over ice cream or even spooning it straight into your piehole.
- Pour in the Cognac, lemon juice, molasses, and cherry juice, stirring to blend well.
- Working in batches of 8 to 10 ounces (240 to 300 ml) at a time, shake the mixture with ice.
- Divvy the punch among glasses or pour it all into a punch bowl. Top with a splash of ginger beer and garnish with orange peel or mint leaves and cherries.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
A complex and easy-drinking punch! Go easy on the ginger beer, because the flavors in the punch are subtle and can be easily overwhelmed, leaving you with basically a Dark and Stormy that you worked way too hard to get!
And a note of warning, this drink is pretty potent, but you might not know it from the taste.
It feels very, very wrong to smash up Luxardo cherries and not use them—my tasters were more than happy to steal tastes of the leftover ginger-cherry-orange zest muddle, so I would definitely try to work those into something. Also, our group definitely preferred mint as a garnish instead of the orange peel.
I have a new appreciation for the bartenders who spend hours to come up with and perfect specialty cocktails such as this one. The punch took some time on the front end to prep ingredients and make, but it was a pleasure to drink. I would make this during the fall, perhaps for parties and the holidays, just because it seemed too fancy to make for a normal happy hour.
I would only make a few tweaks to this recipe, but perhaps the most important note—make it ahead of time. Don’t get me wrong, you could definitely prepare this on fly right before serving. However, once the punch was allowed to sit and chill, all the flavors started to mesh and mix into this refreshing concoction.
I thought the syrup was a little too sweet, but between chilling and adding the ginger beer float, that seemed to resolve the sweet for me.
Don’t forget to strain all your juices and pulps before adding them to the punch. Fresh lemon juice will undoubtedly have bits of pulp in it, but I would suggest extra straining if you want a smooth and uniform drink.
Originally published November 04, 2020