This Good Question comes from reader, Kristen, just in time for party season: I'm throwing my first holiday party for some close friends and colleagues soon and was wondering if any readers or contributors at The Kitchn know of a great holiday punch to make for my guests. Thank you!
Kristen, there are so many great recipes to chose from! Delicate champagne punches, fruity tropical punches, hot, spiced rum punches, to name just a few. I can recommend two in particular that I've tried recently, and I'm sure our readers will have lots of other tempting ideas to share.
The first is Thieves' Punch (pictured above, left) from Food & Wine Cocktails 2009 (the book was reviewed here earlier this year).
A heady mix of white rum, tawny port, fresh lime juice, sugar, and bitters, this punch has a rich and spicy taste and a cheery reddish-amber color that make it a wonderfully festive pick. The tawny port flavor really comes through in this recipe, making it a good choice for pairing with cheese and dried fruit.
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher (or, if making larger quantities, a punch bowl) and stir. (You might want to do this a few hours ahead of time and set the mixture to chill in the fridge.) When ready to serve, add ice* and strain (from pitcher) or ladle (from bowl) into glasses or cups.
Another seasonal possibility is a Spiced Apple Punch (pictured directly above, and top photo, right). A mixture of applejack, fresh apple cider, lime juice, grenadine syrup, seltzer, and spices, this one has a slight effervescence, a sweet, apple-y taste and is a little lighter on the alcohol.
Spiced Apple Punch (adapted from The Merchant Hotel Bar Book, Volume 2) makes 8 drinks
10 ounces applejack (I used Laird's blended, but you could also substitute bourbon, or for even more apple flavor, a straight apple brandy) 10 ounces fresh apple cider 4 ounces fresh lime juice 3 ounces grenadine syrup (storebought or homemade) simple syrup (to taste - I left this out) 4-8 ounces club soda or seltzer (set aside) cinnamon sticks and whole cloves apple slices (for optional garnish)
Combine all ingredients except seltzer in a pitcher (or, if making larger quantities, a punch bowl) and stir. (You might want to do this a few hours ahead of time and set the mixture to chill in the fridge.) When ready to serve, add club soda and ice* and float in some apple slices. Strain (from pitcher) or ladle (from bowl) into glasses or cups.
*A Note on Ice Bigger is better. Because regular-sized ice cubes tend to melt quickly, a large block of ice is a great way to keep a large bowl of punch from getting too diluted and warm over the course of the evening. You can make your own super-sized blocks in plastic food storage containers in the freezer. (I'll be experimenting with these and posting my findings in next Friday's column.)
Anyone else with a favorite punch recipe for Kristen?
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.