Earlier this year, I threw my second annual Christmas party. Two makes it annual right? We made a punch, again, because how else do you throw a proper cocktail party? Personally, I’m a big fan of a punch, and I long to return to the glorious days of the 18th century, full of disease, scurvy, and punches.

Now if you review recipes for Christmas cocktails, those recipes range from the mundane (Sangria is really popular for Christmas), the classic (beautiful, but as someone who is lactose intolerant, not my drink of choice), the unbatchably complicated (sounds beautiful, but I don’t have staff to serve), and the truly awful (I won’t link to it, but I saw a recipe for a cocktail of white chocolate syrup and champagne).

I’ve said it before, I’ve never been sure how holiday cocktails have gotten such a bum rap. It’s like people just give up on cocktails for the holiday season. You want something, beautiful and drinkable, tasty and batchable. No host I know wants to spend a holiday party making cocktails all night, and certainly not this host. Those days are long behind me, as I’ve found people who are worth hearing over the sound of the cocktail shaker. So, what is a host to do?

So I dug and dug and dug. Until I found a theme for Christmas cocktails. Mint tea and cranberry simple syrup. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (or from beginning to end), then you’ll know that I’m a big fan of tea in cocktails, which is a classic punch ingredient. I’m also pretty pro-tea, as you can generally find almost as many flavors of tea as you can vodka. It’s also pretty versatile, as you can make it strong or weak, turn it into a simple syrup, or make your own tea flavor with different bags or leaves depending on your taste. Finally, I’m a librarian. We’re required to like tea. It comes with the degree.

From there, I was bound and determined to do something with a cranberry simple syrup. If for no other reason, I love the description of how you make cranberry simple syrup. You place your water and sugar and cranberries in a pot, and you keep it all the way up on high until the cranberries start to pop, which you then turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Popping cranberries?! What Christmas isn’t complete unless you have popping cranberries?

So, a-creating I went.

Cranberry Simple Syrup

For a 12 ounce bag of cranberries, you want 4 cups of sugar and 4 cups of water, which makes a ton of simple syrup. As stated above, place the pot on high until you hear the cranberries pop. Lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Strain out of the cranberries. This should leave you with about 32 ounces of liquid. Let cool.

Peppermint tea

This is pretty easy. Boil water and pour 32 ounces of hot water into a heatproof container. Again, because I’m a librarian, I just use my teapot. Steep for about 5 minutes. Take out the tea bags and let cool.

A Christmas Spirit Punch

  • 32 ounces Cranberry simple syrup
  • 32 ounces peppermint Tea
  • 32 ounces of quality bourbon
  • Orange Bitters
  • 2 L Club Soda
  • Orange slices

Pour all of the ingredients together. I used about 30 dashes of orange bitters (1 per drink). Slice an orange, freeze, and let the orange slices “cool” the punch.

Evaluation

I was pretty pleased with the drink, but I made it, so hopefully, I would be. I will say that people were polite enough to finish the punch and tell me it was good, but when you’re throwing the party, you can never be quite sure if they like it or if they are merely being polite.

The goal was to capture the taste of Christmas without being cloying or overpowering. The drink seemed to capture that quite nicely. I didn’t get a picture, so you’re going to have to take my word for this, but the cranberry simple syrup with the whiskey and other ingredients makes for a lovely red color, which is perfect for the holidays. The tea and club soda really helped round out the drink, otherwise, it just would have been too much. The orange slides really help give it the citrus flavor that every good punch needs. A friend of mine had the drink both before and after the orange slices and said that the orange slices changed the drink for the better. All that being said, I’m still not sure whether to add it to my regular punch repertoire, but all in all, it seemed to be a nice crowd pleaser.

Cost

Bourbon: For this drink recipe I used Knob Creek, in part because they were having a gift set sale, so I got 4 new tumblers out of the deal. (Full disclosure, every tumbler I have in my apartment came from a liquor set.)

2 bottles Knob Creek: $60

1 12 ounce bag of cranberries: $3

1 4 lb bag of sugar: $1

Water: Free

Regan’s Orange Bitters: $6

Peppermint Tea (20 bags per box): $3

1 orange: $.50

1 2 L bottle of club soda: $1

Total cost: $73.50

Since I made this as a punch, I’m not going to a per drink price.

This is the annual time, where I promise to commit to writing more, but since I’ve been doing that since 2009, I’m not going to. For those of you who have been along for the ride, thank you for your continued readership and for those of you new to the blog, thanks for reading for the first time. I hope you had a great holiday and the best wishes for 2018. As always, happy, and safe, drinking.

 

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