Garden & Gun (October/November 2014)
Earlier this week we shared one of our best Thanksgiving stalling-tactics to buy you some time while you get food on the table: serve a soup or a salad.
That goes hand-in-hand with another tip for keeping a large crowd at bay: Have a beverage ready for guests as they arrive. We don't know about you, but we just aren't not the kind of hosts who invite a bunch of people over, and then make craft cocktails for each person. The stuffing is burning; the carrots are dry; the gravy needs a stir; and we need guests to be able to serve themselves a libation.
That's why a punch is such a great way to kick off a party. Set out in a big punch bowl, a pre-dinner drink like this Knockout Bourbon Punch is not only beautiful, it's also festive.
Just heed the warning of our friend Ed...
After Fakesgiving, lots of emails were flying around among our friends as to their opinions on different dishes. (An actual survey may have also been involved, which we will reveal the results of later.)
But we especially loved this comment from our friend Ed:
"The Knockout Punch is as strong as the name states. Find a mixer for it or gird yourself for a Thanksgiving to be pieced together in your memory for weeks afterward."
Well said, Ed.
Though the punch is excellent and well balanced, it's also potent. We wouldn't recommend serving your guests more than 1 or (maybe) 2 cups of it.
Two things to note in preparing it:
1. It calls for Ginger Juice. We asked the recipe's author, Adam Bernach, of D.C.'s 2 Birds 1 Stone bar for his take on how to make ginger juice. His advice: "You can dice the ginger & put it into a blender with a little bit of water. Blend & strain through a cheesecloth."
That sounded easy enough. Given that Zach's sister has a Vitamix, we asked her to make the juice and bring it with her to Fakesgiving. She started with 1/2 pound of peeled ginger, and blended it with water until it was smooth and pourable. The resulting juice is beautiful, with a bright, National Geographic yellow color, and it's (as you would expect) sharp and potent. Here's a pic of the finished product:
2. The cranberries, while beautiful, aren't for eating. The recipe suggests garnishing the drink with cranberries, which we did. (In fact, we just let them loose in the punchbowl.) A few guests bit into their cranberries, because we hadn't warned them that they were only for decoration. That, as you can imagine, is not pleasant. Cranberries are, after all, "nature's most disgusting berry."
Our advice if you're having a crowd: serve this punch, tell your guests not to eat the cranberries, and feel no pain this Thanksgiving.
>> Read the full Thanksgiving 2014 recipe index
>> Read about this year's biggest Thanksgiving trends
Makes about 75 oz., or 25 servings
8 cinnamon sticks, toasted
1 750ml bottle of bourbon
8 oz. granulated sugar
4 oz. ginger juice
4 oz. lemon juice
4 oz. unsweetened cranberry juice
6 oz. Malmsey Madeira
24 oz. sparkling or soda water
2 bunches fresh mint
2 12-oz. bags fresh cranberries
Let cinnamon sticks sit overnight in bourbon. Strain. Stir sugar into the juices until completely dissolved. Pour juice/sugar blend, Madeira, and cinnamon-infused bourbon into a punch bowl and stir. Top with sparkling water and stir again. Grate a healthy amount of nutmeg—about a quarter of the whole—on top.
To serve, pour 3 oz. over ice in a punch cup. Garnish with a cranberry and a sprig of mint.