A secret of good punches for the last 200 years is oleo saccharum (sweet oil). This is made by muddling together citrus peels with sugar to release the citrus oils into the sugar. Some people prefer to lightly muddle the zest until it just shines and the oil begins to be released. Others prefer to muddle the zest and sugar into a complete paste. It is most common to aim somewhere between these two stages.
If your punch bowl is heavy and strong, you can make your oleo saccharum right in the bowl so that no oils are lost in the transfer. If you are concerned it may be fragile, then any heavy bowl will work.
We first remove the zest, shown here from lemons, leaving behind most of the white pith. You want to peel the citrus right over your sugar, a coarse raw Demerara sugar in this case.
Our zest is ready to be muddled. Save the denuded citrus to juice for the recipe.
With a muddler or heavy spoon, repeatedly crush the citrus zest into the sugar.
You will begin to see the zest look shiny and the sugar look wet from the released oils.
Allow the muddled peels and sugar to sit for a few minutes at least, ideally an hour or so for the further release of the oils.
If you have used a different bowl, scrape your oleo saccharum into your punch bowl. Use a rubber spatula and be sure to scrape all of the oil into your bowl.
We now continue to build our punch on this flavorful and aromatic base.