As the year comes to an end, soon there will be celebrations all around the world. Hosting a party to celebrate New Year's Eve can be pretty stressful, especially if you want to provide your guests with something special. Something different than the usual beer and wine. A perfect time for punch!
Here in Germany it's usually tradition to serve a punch at your New Year's party. It's called Bowle and consists of white wine, various fruits and sometimes spirits. A common replacement for the white wine is a Champagne or sparkling wine, which makes it more festive.
As serving the same old punch can become boring pretty fast, I was always on the lookout for new recipes to try. There is only so much you can do with white wine and fruits after all. Luckily cocktail historian and author David Wondrich wrote a great book about punches which gave me lots of recipes to try out.
The splendid thing about serving a punch at your party is that you can prepare it well in advance and it's usually enough to serve a big crowd all at once. No shaking, stirring or measuring required when someone wants a new drink. So instead of running around all night, preparing drinks for your guest, you can just lounge around with them. Enjoy some punch, have fun and be a great host. Sounds great, right?
Similar to a good cocktail a good punch needs quality ingredients. A punch should be flavorful and the ingredients should make an impact. So if a recipe calls for cognac I at least get V.S. cognac. It makes a difference and doesn't cost that much more.
Another important thing is to be attentive to the details when preparing your punch. Punch normally can be made in advance and therefore you are in no hurry to get it done. Take care during preparation and everything will come together in the end. It starts with making the oleo saccharum and ends with grating some fresh nutmeg over your finished mixture.
Last, but not least, I recommend to use a nice punch bowl, as it will add to the enjoyment of your punch. It might be something superficial, but a decorative bowl provides a great centerpiece around which everyone can gather. It creates a different atmosphere than just using any ordinary bowl. Whether your punch bowl is made of metal or glass that's up to you. But avoid something cheap looking or made from plastic.
If you never made a punch before it might seem intimidating at first. However, I assure you it's quite easy and the result will be pretty tasty. After reading American punch recipes I was a bit suspicious at first too. Will this mixture be tasty? Grating nutmeg over everything? Will my guests like it? You won't know until you try and the recipe I have selected for this article will probably to your liking.
The Philadelphia Fish House Punch is a punch I like personally and had great success with in the past. It's really tasty, can be prepared rather quickly and the ingredients are not very hard to procure. I adapted my favorite recipe from PUNCH.
First prepare the oleo saccharum from the lemon peels and sugar. Mix the finished oleo saccharum with freshly made Earl Grey until the sugar has dissolved completely. You can strain out the lemon peels, but leaving them in is fine. Let the mixture cool down if you have enough time.
Add the lemon juice, rum, cognac, peach brandy to the tea mixture and stir gently. Add big chunks of ice until the desired coolness and dilution are achieved. Garnish with lemon slices and grate over a nutmeg.
Recipe adapted from PUNCH
This recipe is versatile and fast to make. Preparation time just depends on how long you let your oleo saccharum rest and if you want to let your tea cool down or rather chill it with ice. This punch is forgiving and even if you have to hurry it will still taste great.
I sometimes cheat a bit and use a peach liqueur instead of the brandy. Peach brandy is rather hard to find around here and also quite expensive, but if you use a good peach liqueur like Peachtree and dial down the sugar a bit, you will get a tasty punch nevertheless.
The End Of The Year
I really hope you give this punch a try and enjoy it with your friends. A word of warning though, it is very potent and although the taste suggests that it is harmless, it can knock you down if you aren't careful. Enjoy it in moderation and everything will be peachy.
Whether or not you decide to serve punch on your New Year's party, I hope I could convince you that it's a great idea. If you want to know more about punches you must get David Wondrich's book as this features lots of recipes, history and stories about them. Of course I will share my experiences and recipes in the future too.
I wish you all a great New Year's Eve and hope that I can bring you more interesting cocktail and drink ideas next year. I thank you all for reading my humble blog. If you want to be notified about updates follow me on Twitter or subscribe. And share some punch recipes in the comments if you can.
Title image via pixabay.