The secret to stress-free entertaining is punch. Seriously. Punches are great for entertaining – they can be made ahead of time and guests can serve themselves, which leaves you more time to be a guest at your own party.
Here are a few tips for creating your own signature punch:
1) Determine how many guests you will have at your party and how many drinks per guest you are allowing. A general rule would be 2-3 drinks per guest.
2) Select a spirit you enjoy – like Four Roses Bourbon, which is a great value for everyday sipping and entertaining.
3) Get a little cocktail inspiration, browse some great books like Vintage Cocktails, Cuban Cocktails, North American Whiskey Guide and your favorite local bar for cocktails you think would be great in a punch format. Think about the season and what ingredients are readily available – like cranberries, eggnog, oranges.
4) Most punches have a combination of a spirit, something acid – like lemon or orange juice, and something bubbly – tonic water, ginger ale, champagne.
5) Taste test – make mini-versions until you find a combination you like, that way you won’t feel guilty if you need to dump your cocktail and start from scratch.
6) Look for a serving vessel – it doesn’t need to be the classic punch bowl, it could be a pretty bowl you have at home already, an ice bucket, you name it.
7) Find some fun glasses to serve the punch in. I like the Nick and Nora style as they are pretty and versatile for numerous cocktail concoctions.
8) Think about the ice. This is your time to make the ice shine, get your bundt/bundtlet pans out, muffin tins you name it and put some sparkle in your ice. For instance for this cocktail I filled the bundtlet pan up with fresh cranberries and cranberry juice to make an ice cube that wouldn’t water my cocktail down.
9) Pre-make and chill your cocktail mixture, add the bubbly just before serving.
10) Most important, don’t forget to have your guests use Uber, taxi, or designated driver. Drinking and driving don’t mix. Make sure your guests arrive safely home.
The Bourbon Breaker is the result of my love for Manhattans and Sea Breezes. Manhattans are our go-to cocktail during the winter months (we barrel age our Manhattans so they are on tap), and during the summer months a Sea Breeze is refreshing and light. I wondered what would happen if I exchanged the cherries in a traditional Manhattan with Cranberries/Cranberry juice and came up with a winning combination. It’s festive and highlights one of the flavors of the season with cranberries and a touch of orange juice. The Bourbon Breaker is balanced and not too sweet. The cranberries add a nice tartness that livens up the drink, matches well with the bourbon and adds a touch of holiday festivity with its red color. I added ginger ale at the end to lighten the drink.
A second punch I like to serve over the holidays is a simple spiked Eggnog. It’s a no brainer, just add one cup Four Roses Bourbon to each half gallon of eggnog you are using. Have a little nutmeg and whipping cream available for guests to adorn their nog with.
You can also brighten your hosts day with a give of Four Roses Bourbon and a copy of The North American Whiskey Guide From Behind the Bar. It makes clean up after the party so much easier when you have a bottle of bourbon.
- Makes 1 drink:
- 2 oz Four Roses Yellow Label
- 1 oz Carpano Antica
- 1 oz cranberry juice (I00% Pure Juice)
- ½ oz orange juice
- 1 oz Fever Tree or Canada Dry Ginger Ale
- Makes Punch for 12:
- 24 oz/3 cups Four Roses Yellow Label
- 12 oz/1½ cups Carpano Antica
- 12 oz /1½ cups cranberry juice (I00% Pure Juice)
- 6 oz/ ¾ cup orange juice
- 12 oz/1½ cups Fever Tree or Canada Dry Ginger Ale
- Cranberry Ice Cubes
- Fresh Cranberries
- 100% Pure Cranberry juice
- Make cranberry ice cubes if desired 1 day ahead. To make cranberry ice cubes, place fresh cranberries in bundt/bundlet/muffin pan and cover with fresh cranberry juice, place in freezer for a minimum of 1 day.
- Afternoon of Party:
- Combine Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon, Carpano Antica, Cranberry Juice and Orange Juice in pitcher and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
- To serve, pour chilled mixture into serving vessel, add ginger ale and stir gently to combine. Add ice to keep chilled. Serve and enjoy!