Claret Cup
“THE LEAVES AND FLOURES OF BORAGE PUT INTO WINE MAKE MEN AND women glad and merry and drive away all sadnesse, dulnesse and melancholy,” wrote sixteenth-century herbalist John Gerard. With its brilliant blue flowers and cucumber-like flavor, borage (Borago officinalis) has enhanced wine for centuries, even millennia. Roman and Celtic warriors drank borage-steeped wine for courage, while the Victorians used borage to garnish the claret cup, a popular punch made with red wine from Bordeaux plus various liqueurs, herbs, fruits, and spices. (Pimm’s Cup, which also traditionally includes borage, may have originated as a variation of the claret cup.) This is my version of a claret cup, and it’s inspired by recipes in historical cookbooks. The first delicious step involves creating a fragrant blend of lemon oil and sugar called oleo-saccharum, a classic technique for adding depth of flavor to punches.
  1. Combine the lemon peels and sugar in a bowl. Using a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, muddle the lemon peels and sugar until the peels start to release their oils. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Combine the lemon peel and sugar mixture in a clean pitcher with the borage sprig, sherry, and red wine. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the solids.
  3. To serve, pour into ice-filled glasses and top with club soda. Garnish with borage flowers.
Recipe Notes

Makes 1/2 gallon drink