New Year’s Night is nigh, and Spec’s is stoked to help you host! We’re fully stocked with all manner of merriment, from party trays to barware, and our experts are eager to assist you in perfecting your party plan.
One low-key way to keep glasses raised is to make a punch your celebratory centerpiece. These historical bowlfuls may have a bad rep for soggy fruit and melted sherbet, but the recent interest in craft cocktails has led to the delicious rediscovery of punches for all occasions. Here’s Spec’s survey of some luscious libations to keep all your guests grinning!
For a bubbly bowl, try a newfangled champagne cocktail!
1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc or dry white wine
1 cup St. Germain elderflower liqueur
Garnish: 2 peaches, 5-6 strawberries, 6 fresh raspberries, and 1 bunch grapes (but feel free to get creative with fruits!)
Mix together in a perfect pitcher or punch bowl. If you’d like to avoid the soggy fruit phenomenon, make the fruit salad separately and serve it to the side!
Courtesy of St. Germain
Fish House Punch
This historic punch has been around for centuries. This remarkable recipe serves 25, so make sure you have a big bowl!
8 lemon peels
2.5 cups Demerara sugar
16 oz boiling water
16 oz fresh lemon juice
1 (750-mL) bottle strong, pungent Jamaican rum
12 oz VSOP-grade cognac
12 oz real peach brandy, or 8 oz applejack and 4 oz peach liqueur
3 qt (96 oz) cold water
Garnish: grated nutmeg
For the ice block: At least a day ahead, fill a 2-quart bowl with water and freeze until completely solid.
In a large punch bowl, muddle the lemon peels and sugar. Let the mixture stand for at least 3 hours. Add the boiling water, stirring until as much as possible of the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
To serve, add the ice block and garnish liberally with freshly grated nutmeg.
This punch gets its distinctive flavor from Hendrick’s Gin, an artisanal gin infused with rose and cucumber.
4 parts Hendrick’s Gin (1 750-ml bottle; about 3 cups)
4 parts pineapple juice (about 3 cups)
4 parts strengthened Chamomile tea (about 3 cups, see below)
1 part fresh lemon juice (1 cup)
2 pieces of fresh pineapple
1 part honey syrup (2:1 honey to water, see below) (2/3 cup honey dissolved in 1/3 cup water)
Copious dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters®
1 liter of frozen water (about 4 ¼ cups)
Garnish: cucumber wheels, seasonal fresh berries, sprigs of mint
To make strengthened tea: 5 bags of tea per cup hot water. Steep for 45 minutes and chill.
To make honey syrup: Heat 1/3 cup water, stirring in 2/3 cup honey as the water heats to dissolve the honey.
Combine all ingredients in a big punchbowl, adding bitters to adjust the taste of the punch. Add the ice block. Garnish with cucumber wheels, seasonal fresh berries and mint sprigs.
Courtesy: Hendrick’s Gin
Spec’s suggestion: To keep your cunning concoction as potent as possible, it’s best to float a big block of ice in the punch bowl. One easy way to build a block is to fill a bowl with water and freeze it until solid. Run just a little water over the bowl to loosen the block and put in the punch!