The beauty of punch: make one batch, and it serves many. Here are two great varieties from bartenders at Rumba and Canon.
Unless you’re a mini Martha Stewart, the task of putting something equivalent to “Babette’s Feast” for Thanksgiving is stressful enough without having to play bartender.
Who are these crazy, overachieving hosts taking drink orders while they’ve got four burners going and a turkey in the oven?
The easy solution for any sane human is to make pre-batch cocktails or punch. You make one (giant-sized) cocktail and you’re done. Guests serve themselves. (It’s a subtle way to say, “make yourself at home.”)
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Once, a hotel concierge in Florence told me the negroni was Italy’s greatest gift to the tourism world after Renaissance art. How could I have ever doubted him?
A pitcher of negroni (one part each of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, stirred in a bowl or pitcher with ice) is my solution. The ambient-red cocktail is the ideal digestif before the gluttony.
Or maybe you want something original. I asked Tommy Stearns, the bar manager at Rumba, for a punch recipe because rum’s spices always scream autumn and the holidays to me. Many cocktail geeks swear the secret to a great punch bowl is oleo saccharum, a fancy term for a zesty sugar oil, made by muddling lemon and sugar. Check out Stearn’s take on it.
Something faster to whip up at the last minute? Try Canon’s All Hallows’ punch.
Punch Funk Love
Serves 8 to 12
Oleo saccharum (recipe below)
8 ounces boiling water
8 ounces lemon juice
14 ounces cognac (Landy VS is a good value)
8 ounces aged Jamaican rum (Smith and Cross rum is a good value)
8 ounces dark Demerara rum (Skipper dark is my favorite, but Myers or Goslings also work)
4 ounces Meletti amaro
2 ounces peach or apricot liqueur
8-12 dashes Angostura bitters
40 ounces cold water
To make oleo saccharum:
Zest of four lemons
8 ounces sugar (suggested demerara)
Make the oleo saccharum first by peeling four lemons and mixing them with sugar, then press until the citrus oils and sugar gel, about five to 10 minutes of light muddling. When the peels become translucent, let the oleo rest for about 30 minutes, then muddle again. Then stir in all the other ingredients and serve.
— Recipe from Tommy Stearns, Rumba
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All Hallows’ Punch
Serves 10 to 15
The key to this punch, which is easy to make, is to add the bubbly components at the last minute to ensure the bubbles last longer.
Another key is the ice. Instead of using small ice cubes, use one large block, chipped to size, or fill a large bowl with distilled water and place in the freezer the night before to make one large “cube” for your punch bowl.
10 ounces cognac
10 ounces maraschino liqueur
30 ounces rosé Champagne
20 ounces ginger ale
3 oranges, cut into wheels for garnish
In a bowl, add cognac and maraschino liqueur. Stir slowly and add a large block of ice. Just before serving, add Champagne and ginger ale. Slowly stir again and garnish with the orange wheels.
— Recipe from “The Canon Cocktail Book”