Think of punch and odds are you're thinking rum…or just a bunch of fruit juices spiked with whatever booze you have on hand. But that doesn't have to be the case.
Making punch is essentially like making a large cocktail—combining spirits and other ingredients to make something delicious and drinkable—so within the bounds of "things that taste good," you can use whatever spirits and ingredients you want. There are a few extra considerations of how to keep it chilled and how to keep it reasonably low-proof, because punch goes down easy and you don't want to knock out your guests on the second drink. But beyond that? It's all about balancing flavors.
So if you're a whiskey fan, feel free to experiment with whiskey in punch. Whiskey pairs well with citrus, the backbone of many a punch, and with Champagne, ideal for any festive bowl; take these three recipes (all of which make 4 to 6 servings) for a test drive and see how fast they disappear at your next party.
Everyone loves a julep, but juleps aren’t the simplest drink to make for a big crowd. So if you’re trying to keep a whole party in good drink, you’ll need to go punch-format instead. This one is inspired by classic Southern sweet tea, with the standard julep elements of bourbon and mint. Careful: This guy goes down easy.
Instructions: Ahead of time, brew some strong black tea with 24 ounces of water and 4 teabags. Let it cool. In a pitcher or bowl with ice, stir it with 6 ounces of bourbon, 2 ounces of fresh lemon juice and 4 ounces of simple syrup (sugar dissolved in an equal amount of water). Take 30 clean mint leaves; slap them across your hand a few times to release their essential oils. Drop ’em in and stir. Garnish each glass with more mint sprigs and lemon wheels. Try not to drink the whole pitcher at once.
Atlantic City Punch
Whiskey and bubbles—could anything be more festive? We like complex, smoky Scotch in this boozy punch, brought together by cinnamon, honey and chocolate bitters; Cava will work fine in terms of sparkling wine, but if you want to use a Champagne-like French cremant (or even Champagne), we're not going to stop you.
Instructions: In a pitcher or bowl with ice, combine 12 ounces of Scotch, 2 ounces of cinnamon-infused honey syrup (see below) and 6 dashes of chocolate bitters. Stir well, then fill with 6 ounces of sparkling wine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick in each glass.
Cinnamon-infused honey syrup sounds fancy, but it's not at all: In a saucepan over low heat, combine equal parts honey and water, stirring until the honey is dissolved; add a cinnamon stick, let steep for 20 to 30 minutes, remove the cinnamon stick and you're good to go.
Related: Punch Recipes
Rye and Pimm's Punch
The Pimm's Cup, made from Pimm's No. 1, the herbal, spice-infused liqueur that's huge in the UK, is a great party drink for the summer, when it's combined with lemonade or ginger ale. So why not translate that to a winter-friendly punch, with rye and lemon? It’s a little weightier, but just as compelling and easy to drink.
Instructions: In a pitcher or bowl with ice, combine 12 ounces of rye, 6 ounces of Pimm's No. 1, 4.5 ounces fresh lemon juice and 4.5 ounces simple syrup (sugar dissolved in an equal amount of water). Stir vigorously and top with 6 ounces of club soda. Garnish with thin lemon wheels in each glass.