Everybody loves fresh cocktails, but nobody wants to play bartender at their own party. “A well-made punch means that you don’t get stuck tending bar all night while your guests start forming Lord of the Flies-esque alliances in the corners of your house,” says San Francisco bartender Drew Record. And while rum, brandy, and vodka are popular ways of spiking the punch bowl, you don’t want to overlook whisky. “The flavors speak to winter: cinnamon, clove, and allspice in your stews and stuffings; cocoa and butterscotch in the cookie jar; and oranges and pears in your stocking by the fireplace,” he adds.
Brandied Rye and Apple Punch
Subtly floral Canadian rye meets apple’s subdued acidity and sparkling wine’s effervescence in this delicately balanced cocktail.
The Howdie’s Dram
Scotch, sherry, Bénédictine, and mint combine for a stimulating holiday treat.
Sweet persimmons, bourbon, and a bounty of spices combine in this warming punch that’s topped with pear cider.
Irish whiskey meets jalapeños and ginger in this mulled cider that can be served hot or cold.
How to Pack a Punch
Follow these pro tips to ensure a prime, crowd-pleasing punch.
Create large ice blocks by freezing water in quart containers or large Tupperware a few days in advance. “That helps a little with the ice not melting too quickly,” explains Dusty Grable, director of beverage at Merriman’s, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Divide and Conquer
After mixing well, funnel the punch into several 750-milliliter bottles (reuse the bottles from the ingredients in your punch), Grable suggests. They’re easier to handle than large containers and store easily in a cooler or refrigerator until it’s time to replenish the bowl.
While punch bowls are stylish, a large sun tea jar works better for batches on the move. “Make sure the spigot is closed tight and use a piece of plastic wrap over the top before you seal the lid in case it tips over in your trunk,” says San Francisco bartender Drew Record.
Warm punches are best transported in a slow cooker or an insulated beverage dispenser (like Cambro) designed to hold hot liquids. Grable suggests using an electric kettle to heat and keep the punch warm.