The weather was erratic in Key West over the 4 days of the Literary Seminar this year, ranging from bizarrely cool, wet and blustery on Saturday to a typical sunny January day with a high in the low 70s on Friday. This was fortunate as the drink I'd planned for then was the beguiling citrus and gin number, The Bennett, a perfect warm weather choice (although I've had 'em in the dead of winter with no ill effect.) We were stationed on the second floor of the historical building where the Seminar is held, the San Carlos Institute, a beautiful 1924 structure whose design echoes many elements of Cuban architecture--the Institute was founded by expatriates led by Jose Marti in 1871. We anticipated about 100 guest for that evening's party and so batched up a large quantity, expanding from the original recipe:
1 1/2 ounce Hendrick's Gin
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Regans' Orange Bitters
Shake and pour over ice into a rocks glass, or strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice.
THE BENNETT PUNCH
2 liters fresh lime juice (fresh is key--if you don't have a juice, try a local juice bar and arrange to purchase the necessary quantity of juice from them.)
2 liters simple syrup (we started with Demerara sugar which brought a nice base note that anchored the high citrus element)
We batched the whole thing in a large container, then shook each one to
order, which added some necessary ice and water into the mix. We
strained into plastic cups garnished with cucumber slices, and as a
finishing touch hit each one with a couple drops of Gary Regan's Orange
Bitters #5 as we served each drink, which brought that orange, cardamom flavor right to the
nose on the first sip.
A couple things I learned: you can't ever have enough of a punch, for if it's tasty enough someone will invariably come back looking for more, and also that 8 ounce plastic cups fall over under the weight of cucumber garnishes. Otherwise, armed with this info, you're ready to make this one for your next party--it's light, refreshing, and not too potent, but the citrus, sugar and general delightfulness of it gets guests happy fast.
Here's Jim Ryan of Hendrick's explaining how to make a single Bennett:
Past Key West Literary Seminar posts here