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For a rainy day in London: The Buck’s Club Punch
By Florence von Pelet
If I asked you if you knew what the Buck’s Club is, would you know? This venerable British Club stands in London, England. Over the last hundred or so years, the Buck’s Club has sought to dispel the snobbish idealism that a “gentleman’s club” should be stuffy.
During the First World War, Captain H. J. Buckmaster RHG (sometimes “Herbert Buckmaster”, or erroneously “Maurice Buckmaster”) and some of his colleagues agreed that after the war it would be good to establish a gentlemen’s club that was somewhat less stuffy than those that currently existed. Indeed, they particularly wanted a club with an American Cocktail Bar, something then beyond the pale for most traditional gentlemen’s clubs.
The club was established in June 1919 and its American Bar was a focal point. American members were welcome although treated separately from a constitutional standpoint. The club for many years kept its tradition of sourcing members from the Household Cavalry regiments although its membership is now drawn from many walks of life.
The Club is probably best known for seeing the creation of the Buck’s Fizz cocktail in 1921 by its first bartender, Mr McGarry. (Barman from 1919 to 1941, sometimes “Malachy McGarry” or “Pat McGarry”, or spelled “MacGarry”, he is also usually credited with creating the Sidecar cocktail).
Renowned for its exuberance and the youth of its membership, it receives three mentions in the stories of P. G. Wodehouse; Wodehouse modeled in his fictional Drones Club after the Buck’s Club and the Bachelors’ Club, even naming his club’s barman “McGarry” too.
Some famous former members include Prime Minister Winston Churchill, politician Brendan Bracken, 1st Viscount Bracken, Sir Nigel Edward Seely, 5th Baronet, writer Guy Bolton, and actor Nigel Bruce.
I’ve created a fictional punch that I believe would bring the recently departed to their feet. It uses the brilliant Watershed Gin from Ohio, a Cast Iron-charred Cherry muddle, Cinnamon Stick, Chocolate dust, Bitter End Thai Bitters and Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Cardamom and Clove and hot water.
Of course the night would have to be the kind of cold and rainy night that makes the weather in London so famous! Imagine sipping this hot punch in large ceramic cups, the rims dusted in chocolate, a muddle of fire toasted cherries in the bottom and a slurry of Asian influenced spices in the mid-range. Of course there would have to be gin in this cocktail. What good British cocktail doesn’t deserve a healthy portion of Gin?
Not on my watch!
The Buck’s Club Punch
Pre-preparation: Char about a pound or more of good Washington State Cherries in a cast iron pan until uniformly dark and blistered, set aside
Boiled filtered water for the punch- made with the Mavea Water Pitcher
Watershed Gin (from Ohio)
Freshly grated nutmeg
Powdered Bitter-sweet chocolate 80% Bitter
Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Cardamom and Clove
Bitter End Thai Bitters
Boiling Water, first filtered through the exceptional Mavea Pitcher
Wet the lip of the (pre-heated) mug with lemon juice
Roll lip in bittersweet chocolate dust
Muddle the charred (pitted) cherries with some Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Cardamom and Clove
Add at least 3 oz of Watershed Gin. Why so much? You won’t feel anything but warm after enjoying one of these punches!
Fill to the rim with Mavea filtered water- heated to 200 degrees (just below the boil level, be careful!)
Scrape some nutmeg over the top
Stir with a cinnamon stick
Add four drops of the Bitter End Thai Bitters to finish and a pinwheel of orange