Forget fussing over cutesy decor and agonizing over the perfect playlist. All you need to throw the best holiday gathering in town is one excellent go-to cocktail recipe and delicious finger food. This year, we’ve got you covered with the ultimate pairing: bourbon and fried chicken. Traditionally, Champagne or another sparkling wine has been the go-to pairing for fried chicken. Its cool effervescence cuts through the chicken’s salt and fat notes, cleansing the palate and leaving your tastebuds refreshed for more. But this year, we’re jazzing up the classic pairing with the addition of bourbon.
This take on a traditional party punch from The Cocktail Project is the perfect blend of whimsy and sophistication. Lemon and orange bring bright citrus notes to the party, dancing perfectly to the fizzy Champagne tune. Maker's Mark® adds extra depth with notes of caramel, vanilla and hints of fruit.
Fancy Bourbon Punch is ideal for the holiday season—especially when you include that dash of freshly grated nutmeg—but it can be served year-round (even at a solo dance party, which we always highly recommend). If you really want to impress your guests, try your hand at this homemade Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe to go with the drink. The buttermilk acts as both a marinade and a great brine for the chicken, and it also helps the breading adhere to the chicken for a crispy crust.
The Cocktail Project is a great resource for all of your food pairings, with hundreds of recipes curated by career bartenders.
Fancy Bourbon Punch Recipe
- 4 parts Maker's Mark® Bourbon
- 1 part Sugar, Granulated
- 3 Lemons
- 3 Oranges
- 4 parts Tea
- 1 part Champagne
- Fresh Nutmeg
Peel the oranges and lemons, keeping the peels. Juice the oranges and lemons. Combine sugar and citrus peels in the bottom of a punch bowl. Muddle together until sugar starts to clump together. Let sit for about 2 hours (while not necessary, this does add a little complexity).
Brew the tea for about 30 minutes, remove loose tea or tea bags and allow to cool. Add the juice of the peeled fruit, tea and bourbon. Stir. Top with champagne just before serving and stir gently.
Top with freshly grated nutmeg and serve (If you can't grate fresh nutmeg, don’t use the prepackaged powdered stuff. It will turn your punch into a paste. If fresh isn't possible, garnish with citrus wheels or fresh fruit).
Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 4 pounds medium chicken wings, thighs and drumsticks
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk with the salt, black pepper and cayenne. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate for 4 hours.
In a large, resealable plastic bag, mix the flour with the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne and shake to combine.
Set a rack on a baking sheet. Working with one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the buttermilk soak, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the coated chicken to the rack and let stand for 30 minutes.
In a deep skillet, heat 1 inch of oil to 350°. Set another rack over a baking sheet; line with paper towels. Fry the chicken in batches at 315°, turning once, until golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160°, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the paper-lined rack and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
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