IMBIBE: NYE Punch Panache

By on December 28, 2016

Festive holiday punches to usher in the new year.

161228imbibe_origJACKSON HOLE, WY – Lots of us will be popping Champagne corks on New Year’s Eve. It’s a tradition that isn’t going anywhere soon. However, New Year’s Eve and other celebrations are exceptionally well-suited to punch-type drinks, especially when there’s a crowd. The self-serve aspect of holiday punch means that hosts and hostesses can focus on other essential tasks, like keeping Uncle Milt away from the tequila. Here are a few of my favorite punch bowls, includingsome non-alcoholic iterations.

While serving as bar manager at San Francisco’s Rickhouse bar, Erick Castro created his excellent Champagne Holiday Punch. It calls for a Creole Shrubb, which is an orange-flavored rum. If you can’t find it, just substitute any orange-flavored rum or a liqueur like Mandarin Napoleon. Likewise, you can trade out the genever for a gin such as London dry gin. Combine 6 ounces fresh lemon juice with 10 dashes of Angostura bitters, 12 ounces genever (or gin), 4 ounces simple syrup and 4 ounces Creole Shrubb (or substitute). Refrigerate for a couple of hours until chilled. When ready to serve, gently stir in 4 ounces of Champagne or other sparkling wine, 8 ounces club soda, large ice cubes and garnish with pods of star anise and pineapple slices.

Anyone who’s ever sipped a screwdriver knows the affinities that vodka and orange juice have for each other. Here is a holiday Vodka Punch, adapted by yours truly, that comes originally from Cara, The Quarter-Life Cook and the Big Girls Small Kitchen web site. It’ll serve an army. Ideally, you’ll want to use fresh-squeezed orange, lemon and grapefruit juice. In a large punch bowl, combine 3 cups of plain vodka (try the local Jackson Hole Still Works’ Highwater Vodka or Grand Teton Distillery Vodka), 3 cups orange-flavored vodka, 4 cups (total) fresh lemon, orange and grapefruit juices, 1 quart seltzer, 2 cups simple syrup steeped with a handful of mint leaves, 2 cups sparkling wine, 3 tablespoons of orange bitters (like Beehive Spiced Orange Cocktail Bitters), and 6 cups of ice. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Here is a non-alcoholic punch recipe that I like for both kids and adults. The ginger ale in it gives this punch some celebratory zest, in lieu of having to use sparkling wine. To make Pretty Pink Punch, begin by dissolving 2 tablespoons of sugar in 3 cups of cold water in a punch bowl. Then add 2 64-oz bottles of chilled cranberry-raspberry juice, a 46-oz can of chilled pineapple juice, and a 12-oz can of thawed frozen pink lemonade concentrate. You can do all of this ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to serve. To finish and serve the punch, stir in 1 liter of ginger ale and garnish with lemon slices or raspberries.

This one isn’t really punch, but I love Rosé Champagne Cocktails.Think of them as personalized punches. It’s a cocktail that’s elegant in its simplicity. For two cocktails, slice a sugar cube in half with a serrated or sharp, thin knife. Place half a sugar cube into the bottom of each of two Champagne flutes (I like to use old-fashioned Champagne coupes). Add four dashes of aromatic bitters (such as Bitters Lab Aromatic) to each glass. Then top the glasses with Rosé Champagne. Add a lemon twist garnish and you’re ready to rock.

I’m a big fan of whiskey in punch, and this Citrus-Irish Whiskey Punch recipe first appeared in Bon Appétit. It calls for oleo-saccharum, which adds “punch” to the punch; you can find easy recipes for it on the web. In a large bowl or pitcher, combine 1-2/3 cups Irish whiskey, 1-2/3 cups strong black tea, 1/2 cup fresh clementine or orange juice, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup oleo-saccharum, 7 dashes of aromatic bitters and 1-1/2 teaspoons of freshly grated nutmeg. Chill for three to eight hours and strain into a serving bowl. Garnish with lemon and orange slices and serve over ice with freshly grated nutmeg. Happy New Year! PJH

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