Everyone knows that hosting a soirée can be a huge undertaking. Between planning a tasty menu, purchasing all of the necessary food and alcohol, and making sure the house is guest-ready, by the time it’s party time, who even wants to party?
This year, lighten the load just a smidge by serving a signature punch. No, not a cocktail, a punch! And yes, there is a difference. A punch is defined as drink, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, which has fruit as one of the main ingredients. As a kid you drank fruit punch and probably devoured a whole jug on a Saturday afternoon. Today, not so much. That sugary-goodness can be translated into adult form (and doesn’t have to be that sweet).
The beauty in a punch is that once it’s made, it’s done. You can make a big batch before the party and leave it out with ice cubes already floating on top (the bigger the cube, the longer it takes to melt) to keep the punch chilled. Or stash a bowl of ice cubes next to the cocktail for when guests start pouring. Themed ice cube trays can turn a boring old ice cube into a festive party detail. If your drink is on the clear side, these Christmas tree ice cubes with a touch of green food dye can add a festive note. Or if your drink capitalizes on cranberries or another small fruit, adding a tiny bit to the ice cube tray gives the drink a splash of color. It’s the little things, right?
Another reason to love punch is that it can also be made non-alcoholic for those who don’t drink or those underage. That way no one feels left out. Try limeade mixed with seltzer, ginger ale, lime juice and fresh lime slices. Make sure everyone has celebratory glass so they feel like part of the party, even if they aren’t partying.
Once the glasses and ice cubes are assembled, it’s time to start making your punch. There are no rules! Recently, I had a punch in Portland at Block + Tackle – a seafood joint in the hip Division Street neighborhood. They make a different house punch each day. Mine was a mix of good tequila, cranberries, Triple Sec and a few other ingredients. It was bright and fresh with a vibrant color. I can only imagine it in a big bowl on your holiday table.
Another punch favorite of mine combines sparkling wine, raspberries, lime juice, and a little bit of rum. The truth is you can completely customize your punch. If you love lemon flavors, add lemonade mix to ginger ale, vodka, and Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine) topped with slices of lemon. Taste as you go to see if you need to add a little more or a little less of anything. Remember, it’s your punch! If you want more tequila, add it. If you want more pomegranate juice, add that too. Whatever you’re in the mood for should set your punch tone.
And might I suggest wearing this apron while you prepare your punch? Food & Wine has some tempting recipes to try it. Let me know which ones you want to try this holiday season. Do you have an old family party punch recipe? Share your recipe ideas in the comments section below.
-- Briana Berg