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Holiday Punch Guide
December 18, 2013 | 10:30AM

Compiled by: Stephanie Breijo
All photos:
Stephanie Breijo and Jeff Martin

There’s nothing easier–and classier–than a perfect holiday punch. Imagine a party with the perfect guest list, your friends all gathered around the table laughing and ladling your most festive concoction. The glasses clink as everyone cheers and raves over your perfectly balanced punch. There are cinnamon sticks or maybe even an edible flower or two; the bowl is garnished in such a way that you strike envy into the hearts of all frenemies–your hosting abilities are endless and effortless. You have achieved holiday party god status without ever breaking a sweat.

Yes, this can be you. With the help of the city’s best punch authorities, we culled and mulled five perfect recipes to rocket you to holiday punch nirvana. Try one or try them all; we won’t judge.

 

Leave it to beverage director and all-around cocktail encyclopedia Jeff Faile to design  a flawless untraditional (yet somehow still thematic) holiday punch. Cast aside your preconceived notions of what your punch bowl should taste like this winter; Faile has other plans.

“It’s a nice light citrusy punch with a natural pairing of St. Germain and Aperol; that’s one of my go-tos.”

Mixing grapefruit juice and blood orange, Faile gives his bowl a little sweetness while making it a little seasonal without all the trademark fall/winter spices.

“I think a lot of the times I try to do things a little bit differently,” he said. “There’s a vicious use of cinnamon and cloves but this gives people a little bit of a different take. With the blood orange in there, it’s a little bit eye catching. It really sells itself, you know?”

We do and we’re sure you will, too, once you try Faile’s recipe below.

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Ingredients
5 cups gin
3 cups Aperol
1.5 cups st germain
2.5 cups grapefruit juice
1.5 cups blood orange juice
10 dashes of gf bitters
1 750 ml dry sparkling wine

Procedure
1.) Add all to punch bowl.
2.) Add one large ice cube.
3.) Garnish with mixture of fresh grapefruit and blood orange peels.
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When planning a perfect holiday punch, why not turn to Dan Searing–one of D.C.’s most prominent cocktail authorities who also happened to pen a book called “The Punch Bowl”? His Spread Eagle Punch is guaranteed to bowl you over (and knock your guests out) with bright citrus and seasonal smoky flavor.

Dan Searing’s Spread Eagle Punch originally ran in our 2011 Fall/Winter Food Guide but we loved it so much we brought it back. Try it and thank us (but really, thank Dan).

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(photo by Jeff Martin)

Ingredients
1/2 cup demerara sugar
peel of two lemons
1 cup boiling water
1 750-ml bottle of Corsair Triple Smoke (may use any smoky scotch such an Islay single malt scotch whisky)
1 750-ml bottle of Corsair Wry Moon (may use a traditional aged rye such as Old Overholt Rye Whiskey)

Procedure
1.) Muddle the sugar and lemon peel together in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
2.) Add the boiling water, then the whiskeys.
3.) Place the mixture in the refrigerator, and chill for at least 2 hours.
4.) Pour the punch into a punch bowl that has been filled with ice cubes.

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(photo by Jeff Martin)

Cocktail maven Rachel Sergi is no stranger to crafting the perfect drink for any season (remember those boozy sno cones?) so of course she already had a festive holiday punch in her back pocket, playful name included. Sergi’s Coming Down The Chimney punch incorporates all your winter flavors like ruby red grapefruit, Cannonball (Lincoln Restaurant’s housemade take on Fireball), sparkling cider, rum, and Pimento bitters. Although this punch isn’t currently on the menu, Sergi says they’ll be glad to make it for you at Lincoln throughout the holiday season.

“It’s a flowing bowl so you can have conversations around it,” Sergi says of  holiday punches. “You don’t have to be the hostess all the time. … People feel like they’re a part of the drink-making process because they’re pouring it themselves. You can step away, you can walk to the door and greet guests, etc. etc.”
For a surefire crowd pleaser, check out Sergi’s recipe below.
Holiday Cocktail Punch Recipes Photos DC Brightest Young Things7Holiday Cocktail Punch Recipes Photos DC Brightest Young Things6
Ingredients
Bulleit Bourbon 12oz
Cannonball (Lincoln Housemade fireball) 6oz
Dale DeGroff Pimento bitters 1 oz
Grapefruit Juice 8oz
Sparking alcoholic cider 16oz

Prodecure
1.) Put in punch bowl, add ice, stir.
2.) Garnish with grapefruit wheels and edible flowers!
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Now, we’d trust Jamie MacBain with any cocktail any time, but after we swung by Bourbon Steak for a little holiday imbibing tips lesson (read more on that here) it was obvious to us that his mulled was HAD TO be our winter punch. It can only do the body good – after all in the olden days, mulled wines was called Hipocris after the Greek physician, Hippocrates because drinking wine was considered a healthier and safer choice to drinking water at the time. So there, no use resisting it. -Svetlana Legetic

Jamie MacBain’s mulled wine punch first ran in our 2011 Food Guide — use it and love it along with these other mouthwatering photos and recipes.
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(photo by Jeff Martin)

Ingredients
1 bottle red wine (Zinfandel or Pinot Noir)
1/2C Apple Brandy (Lairds or Clear Creek)
3 cinnamon sticks
4-5 pods star anise
small palmful cloves
4 cardamom pods
3 Szechuan peppercorns or regular black peppercorns
4T honey (adjust to taste)
3 orange twists (from the peel of two oranges)

Procedure
1.) In a large saucepan, toast all the spices over medium low heat.
2.) Add wine, apple brandy, orange peel twists and let simmer gently for 30 mins. Do not let it boil.
3.) Serve in a glass without straining out spices.

Notes: If making this ahead of time and storing it overnight, strain out the spices and citrus. You can store the mulled wine in the fridge and heat gently on a stovetop when ready to drink.
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(photo by Jeff Martin)

Almost no one in the District understands the cocktail scene better than Derek Brown; The Passenger remains one of the city’s most reliable watering holes and his latest ventures, Mockingbird Hill and Eat the Rich, are worth every bit of the hype. It’s no surprise, then, that the man knows his way around a good punch.

We stopped by Brown’s new ham and sherry bar for a perfect holiday recipe that’s packed with cinnamon, cider, rum and seasonal flavors that’ll be sure to make your guests pleased as, well, you get the idea.

Derek Brown’s Pickin’ Punch recently ran in our “Thanksgiving with Your Favorite DC Chefs” piece. You can find this and more handy holiday recipes right over here.

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Ingredients
1 1/2 bottles of Dark Rum
1 bottle Applejack
1/2 bottle Blended Scotch
1 lb. Fine Demerara Sugar
2 Peels of Lemon
2 cups of apple cider
6 cups of sparkling water
Garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks

Procedure
1.) Muddle lemon peels with sugar and then pour in apple cider.
2.) Stir in rum, Applejack and Scotch; chill for two hours in refrigerator.
3.) Serve in bowl over large ice block. Add chilled sparkling water.

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