The holidays are crazy, sure, but throwing a winter-themed soiree doesn’t mean slaving over cocktails at your home bar–far from it.
Holiday punches are not only easy to put together, but they’ll quench your guests’ thirst while adding a bit of flair to your gathering.
Don’t have a punch bowl? Visit local thrift or antique stores and check out the spread, or call around, someone’s grandmother might be your hook up. Or try a beverage jar instead, available at most department stores.
To get you on the punch-drunk path, we have a few easy ways to bowl over your guests.
Mulled Wine with Dark Brown Sugar
The first is a classic throwback with a savory twist: the addition of pepper and fennel give this mulled wine a significant kick that’s balanced by the addition of rich brown sugar. Serve this one out of a pitcher.
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 3-inch cinnamon stick broken into pieces
2 (750-milliliter) bottles of fruity red wine (such as merlot)
3 bay leaves
Zest strips from 1 orange
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
Put the peppercorns, fennel seeds and cinnamon in a large tea ball or wrap them in cheesecloth and secure them with kitchen string or twine. In a large saucepan, combine the aromatics with the wine, bay leaves and orange zest. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the aromatics and orange zest strips. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Serve warm, in glasses or mugs.
Once cooled, the mulled wine can be poured into a pitcher and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently.
Modified from Food & Wine
Cranberry Pomegranate Winter Sangria
It may finally feel like winter outside, but we still can’t deny the appeal of fruity, boozy sangria. This particular one uses seasonal fruit to punch up the flavor. While a carafe would suffice, serving the sangria out of a punch bowl will make it easier to scoop up the infused fruit.
1 750-milliliter bottle of white zinfandel or rose
3 cups cranberry juice
2 cups pomegranate juice
1 cup orange juice
1 cup light rum
1 apple, unpeeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
In an extra-large storage container, combine white zinfandel, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, orange juice, rum, apple, orange, lemon, cranberries and pomegranate seeds. Chill overnight or at least 4 hours to let flavors meld. Stir before serving and pour into serving pitchers or punch bowl. Serve over ice and top with additional fruit. Top off with a splash of sparkling water.
Modified from DeepSouthDish.com
I left the hooch-iest batch for last. This brandy-based elixir is the least time consuming while also being the most impressive. Ditch the E&J for Very Special Old Pale (VSOP) grade cognac to add that wow factor.
1 cup raw sugar
1 750-milliliter bottle VSOP-grade cognac
1 cup lightly sweet oloroso or amontillado sherry
Freshly grated nutmeg
Fill a medium bowl with water. Freeze overnight to make an ice mold.
Remove peels from 4 of the lemons in strips. Place in a medium bowl and muddle with raw sugar. Let stand 30 minutes before muddling again. Cut all lemons in half and juice them to yield 1 cup juice.
Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; pour water over lemon peel-sugar mixture and stir until sugar has dissolved.
Strain syrup into a large bowl or storage container. Mix in lemon juice, Cognac, sherry and 4 cups cold water. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
Dip ice mold in hot water to release and pop into punch bowl. Sprinkle punch with fresh nutmeg and serve in small cups or glasses.
Via Bon Appétit