December is the season of holiday parties, and nothing classes a party up like a killer punch. Since no one wants to spend their own event shaking up cocktails, a punch will let you do all the work in advance, and give you a dramatic centerpiece to boot.
Each of these will make 6-8 servings, depending on how generously you pour; feel free to double, or more, if your party calls for it. Here’s a tip: If you think you’ll go through multiple bowls, mix all the ingredients together without ice and store that punch in backup bottles, sans ice, in the fridge. When your bowl runs low, you’ve got more at the ready — just pour over ice and you’re good to go.
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 (we’re fans of Cutty Sark Prohibition here), 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.
NOTE: 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.
We made this for our own holiday party last weekend and can confirm firsthand that it’s a hit. You’ve got Laird’s Bottled in Bond applejack, which is distilled 100% from apples, a little oloroso sherry for a complex, nutty sweetness and depth, and fresh apple cider. Cranberry bitters make it even more seasonally appropriate.
Instructions: In a pitcher or bowl with ice, combine 9 ounces Laird’s Bottled in Bond applejack, 9 ounces fresh apple cider, 3 ounces oloroso sherry, 1.5 ounces lemon juice, and 1.5 ounces simple syrup. Add 6 dashes of cranberry bitters. Garnish with apple slices and lemon wheels.
Blood Orange & Rum
Winter is citrus season, and there are few fruits more dramatic and colorful than blood oranges. Here, we’re pairing it with white rum and a little lime for a daiquiri variation, made party-friendly by topping with blood orange soda.
Instructions: In a pitcher or bowl with ice, combine 9 ounces of white rum, 6 ounces fresh blood orange juice, 4.5 ounces of simple syrup, 3 ounces of fresh lime juice, and 6 dashes of cranberry bitters. Top with 6 ounces of San Pellegrino’s “Aranciata Rossa,” blood orange soda. (If you can’t find it, plain club soda will work well too.) Garnish with blood orange slices and cranberries.
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