Clarence’s Punch

It’s been a long time between drinks for Clarence, the angel in the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life. As Wayne Curtis reminds us in our November/December 2014 issue, Clarence is sent down to intercede in the tragic turn of events that’s led George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) to consider ending it all. Clarence proves adept at saving George’s life, but when it comes to ordering a drink, the angel seems a little rusty—asking first for a flaming rum punch before settling on a mulled wine, “heavy on the cinnamon, and light on the cloves.”

Every bar needs an angel like Clarence: someone who brings light, humanity and a fresh perspective when one’s needed—though today’s angels are hopefully a bit more familiar with the menu. To fill the Clarence role in his home city of New Orleans, Curtis nominates Chris Hannah, head bartender at Arnaud’s French 75 bar in the French Quarter. When we asked Chris for his own version of a flaming rum punch, he came back with this flavorful spin.

Chris Hannah’s Flaming Rum Punch
1 oz. white rum (something full-flavored; Chris uses Caña Brava)
1 oz. aged Jamaican rum (Appleton Estate V/X recommended)
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. ruby port
1/2 oz. orgeat
1/2 oz. fresh orange juice
3/4 oz. overproof Jamaican rum (Smith & Cross)
Tools: shaker, strainer, match
Glass: Collins
Garnish: ground cinnamon

Combine the first six ingredients in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake to chill, strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with overproof rum, and ignite with a match. Sprinkle ground cinnamon into the flame for a garnish.

Chris Hannah, French 75, New Orleans