ceciliaToday’s recipe is a classic from my home state, South Carolina, named in honor of one of the state’s oldest and most exclusive social institutions: the St. Cecilia Society.

Not only is this group known for their extreme exclusivity and an affinity to all things musical (St. Cecilia was the traditional patron saint of music, after all), but also for a certain beverage that they traditionally serve at balls and celebrations.

This drink, known as St. Cecilia’s Punch, is not only one of the earliest tea cocktails on record, but also one of the first historical mentions of tea being served with ice!

Dating back to the late 18th – early 19th century, this libation still stands up well 200 some-odd years later!

Here’s the recipe:

St. Cecilia’s Punch

2 medium lemons, thinly sliced

3/4 cup brandy

3/4 cup granulated sugar

how 'bout a nice Cecilia Punch?2 teaspoons Pure Green

3/4 cup dark rum,

1/2 small pineapple, peeled, cored, sliced 1/2 inch thick, and cut into small wedges

1 750-ml bottle dry (AKA “brut”) sparkling wine, chilled

6 cups sparkling water, chilled

Put the lemon slices in a large bowl and pour the brandy over them. Let macerate at room temperature overnight.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the tea leaves, and steep for 3 minutes. Strain and let the syrup cool.

At least 3 hours and up to 6 hours before serving, combine the lemons, brandy, syrup, rum, and pineapple in a large pitcher or bowl. Chill in the refrigerator.

Just before serving, pour the punch into a large chilled punch bowl with a block of ice. Add the sparkling wine and sparkling water, gently stir.