Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gala Parfait: Holiday Party Libations


I love entertaining, I love the holidays, and I love good drinks. So naturally holiday punchbowl concoctions are of my most favoritest things! Egg nog, Gluhwein, you name it, I'll drink it!
Here are several recipes, some traditional, others offering new ideas, or a contemporary update of a classic.

Nathan's Christmas Champagne Punch
I made this impromptu punch for a holiday party last weekend. It was a hit! Not too sweet, with robust dark red fruit. (And I was able to get all of it with one stop).
Serves a lot

Many bottles of inexpensive sparkling wine, 6-10..
One bottle citrus vodka
One bottle cherry cider
One bottle raspberry dessert wine
1-2 bottles sparkling pomegranate or cranberry juice
Two bottles seltzer water
1-2 bottles Lambrusco or other "soft" (semi-sparkling) Italian red wine
One bottle Triple sec
One can frozen lemonade
2 large oranges, sliced into wheels
3 lemons, sliced into wheels
Frozen black cherries
Fresh cranberries

First (4 hours to a day ahead), make an ice float (or two) in a jello mold, or tupperware lined with plastic wrap using the frozen lemonade concentrate, water, and some of the craberries and lemon wheels. Freeze.
I prepared the punch to taste, starting with the frozen cherries, the entire bottle of vodka, about 1/3 of the triple sec, 1/3 of the cider, 1/3 of the dessert wine, 1/2 of the soft red wine, 1/2 the pom juice, one whole bottle of seltzer, and about 3 bottles of sparkling wine (added last just before serving). Add an ice float and garnish the surface with more citrus wheels and cranberries.
As the punch level went down, I added the rest of the ingredients throughout the evening.
Note: There is never too much sparkling wine.... (I asked all of my guests to each bring one bottle).


Farmer’s Bishop
adapted from The Holiday Drink Book, Peter Pauper Press, 1951
Serves 24

6 oranges
around 4 dozen whole cloves
1 bottle apple brandy
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 gallon cider
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
and if you have any pimento dram kicking around, an ounce or so would work wonders here

Stick each orange with 8 cloves, and bake them whole in a slow oven (300F) for 1 hour. Place them in a heated punch bowl and prick them well with a fork. Heat the apple brandy in a saucepan until warm — CAREFUL, especially if you’re using a gas stove — and pour over the oranges; sprinkle with the sugar. While warming the brandy, heat the cider to almost boiling. Take 1/2 cup of the cider and mix the remaining spices in it, then set it aside. Carefully light the brandy — I like to use a sugar cube soaked with a bit of the brandy, place it in the bowl of a long-handled spoon, light it and then stand back while placing the burning cube in the boozy punch. Let it burn for a few seconds, then add the hot cider to extinguish the flames; stir in the cup of spiced cider. You can keep it warm in a chafing dish or on the stove.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler's Perfect Egg Nog
"I love egg nog, but I can’t stand the thick, gelatinous goop they sell at the grocery store. Even if you were to cut it with alcohol, it’s still so overly-pasteurized and full of preservatives that it would be anything but enjoyable to slug down at a Christmas party. So I set about concocting the simplest, tastiest Egg Nog recipe I could, and here’s what I came up with.
"This recipe can be made in just about any home or bar, since the ingredients are fairly simple. It can be done entirely in a blender, so there are no whisks or beaters or rubber spatulas or stovetops needed. It yields two healthy servings, so you can easily multiply it to serve more. It doesn’t use a ton of heavy cream, so it’s fairly light. In other words, it’s practically perfect."

2 large eggs
3 oz (by volume) granulated sugar
½ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
2 oz brandy
2 oz spiced rum (I use Sailor Jerry’s)
6 oz whole milk
4 oz heavy cream

Beat eggs in blender for one minute on medium speed. Slowly add sugar and blend for one additional minute. With blender still running, add nutmeg, brandy, rum, milk and cream until combined. Chill thoroughly to allow flavors to combine and serve in chilled wine glasses or champagne coupes, grating additional nutmeg on top immediately before serving.
One note about blenders. This recipe works great in home blenders, but the commercial models are designed to heat whatever they’re blending, which can result in scrambled eggs by the time you get around to the sugar. If you’re using a Vita-Mix or similar commercial blender, cut that initial blend time down to a quarter minute or so.

The Good Neighbor
Created by: Toby Maloney (Alchemy Consulting, Freeman's)

2 cups Laird's Applejack (or Calvados)
2 cups rye whiskey
3/4 cup fresh squeezed ginger juice (from any fresh juice purveyor)
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 cups fresh lemon juice
7 dashes of bitters
1 bottle hard cider (dry's best)
Large, cold ice cubes

Combine everything but ice/cider in a large bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Put in fridge for a couple of hours. Add ice/cider at last minute. Garnish with apple slices and lemon wheels.

Gluhwein (Hot Mulled Wine)
Serves 12-15

4 quarts dry red wine (zinfandel, Côtes du Rhône, burgundy, etc.)
1 pint brandy
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
5 cinnamon sticks
5 cardamom pods
5 black peppercorns
10 cloves, whole
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp mace
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
2 oranges, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
Special equipment: a 6- by 4-inch piece of cheesecloth; kitchen string

Wrap cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, peppercorns, and cloves in cheesecloth and tie with string. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 5-quart heavy pot, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then add the wine and begin heating over low heat. As it begins to warm, add brandy, vanilla bean, allspice, mace and spice bag. Heat thoroughly, but do not allow to boil! Add the lemon and orange. Steep for about 1 hour over low heat. You may add more sugar during this time if desired, stirring well so it disolves. Serve hot and garnish with orange slices. A stick cinnamon could also be used.

Negroni Punch
Serves 8

4 cups assorted fresh fruit (such as cranberries, pitted cherries, sliced apricots and oranges)
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1 cup Campari
1 cup sweet vermouth
1 cup gin
2 750-ml bottles chilled Prosecco
Ice cubes

Place fruit in large punch bowl. Sprinkle with sugar to taste, if desired; stir and let stand 10 minutes for sugar to dissolve and juices to form. Add all remaining ingredients except ice cubes. Divide punch among 8 tall ice-filled glasses and serve.

Empire City Punch
from “Bartender’s Guide by Trader Vic” 1947
serves 50

2 oz. maraschino liqueur
2 oz. Curacao liqueur
2 oz. Benedictine liqueur
1 qt. Jamaican rum
1 bottle cognac
4 bottles Tokay wine
2 bottles Madeira wine
4 bottles claret
4 lemons
2 oranges
½ pound sugar cubes
2 bottles club soda
Large block of ice
1 pineapple, diced
12 oranges, thinly sliced
1 box strawberries, sliced
6 bottles champagne, chilled

Mix together all liquids except champagne and club soda and chill.
Rub the lemons and oranges with cubes of sugar until all color has been absorbed by the sugar. Dissolve sugar in a punch bowl with club soda.
Add ice, fruit, and liquid mixture.
Just before guests arrive, add chilled champagne. Serve in punch glasses or champagne goblets.

English Christmas Punch
This recipe makes 27 individual drinks when served in white wine glasses. As with any drink that is flamed, caution should be taken when making English Christmas Punch and igniting the ladle filled with rum.

750 mL bottle dark rum
750 mL bottle dry red wine
3 cups strong tea
1 lb superfine sugar
juice of 1 large orange
juice of 1 lemon

Heat, but do not allow to boil, the wine, tea, lemon and orange juices in a saucepan or chafing dish. Pour the heated mix into a heat proof punch bowl. Place as much sugar as possible into a large ladle and any excess sugar into the punch bowl.
Saturate the sugar in the ladle with rum. Ignite the rum and sugar in the ladle and pour it while still aflame into the punch. Stir well and extinguish the flames.
Pour the remainder of the rum into the punch. Stir well.
Serve in white wine glasses.

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