Cocktails for a crowd – fabulous punch recipes for all your holiday needs

submitted by The Boston Shaker

The holidays can be whirlwind of family gatherings and Christmas parties. It’s also a great time to try your hand at hosting a cocktail party. It may sound like a lot of work, but hosting a great cocktail party doesn’t always mean being chained behind the bar for the evening. So why not hearken back to the festivities of yesteryear with the tradition of the punch bowl?
Time was, groups of good friends would gather around the punch bowl, ladling libations until there were no more libations to be had. This time-honored tradition remains a great way to save a little time while impressing your guests with your holiday hosting savvy.
We’ve collected three cocktail punch recipes for you to try – something old, something new and something to ward off that cold winter chill. Why don’t you give them a try?

Xalapa Punch
• 2 1/2 quarts strong black tea
• 1 pint simple syrup
• grated peel of 2 lemons
• 1 bottle applejack
• 1 bottle rum
• 1 bottle dry red wine
• 1 lemon sliced thin
Combine hot tea and lemon peel, allow to stand 10 to 15 minutes. Add sugar syrup, stir thoroughly and let cool. Combine mixture with applejack, rum and wine, let stand an hour or more to ripen. Pour over ice in punch bowl and add lemon slices just before serving.

Red Velvet Punch
• 8 cups cranberry Juice
• 1 cup fresh cranberries
• 3/8 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
• 3/8 cup frozen pinapple juice concentrate
• 3/8 cup frozen lemon juice concentrate
• 16 ounces brandy
• Two 750ml of chilled champagne or sparkling wine
• 20 orange slices
Combine 2 cups cranberry juice and cranberries, freeze. Thaw juices and combine with remaining cranberry juice and brandy. Just before serving add cranberry ice and add champange. Garnish with orange slices.
Makes 20 six-ounce servings

Hot Pomegranate Cider
• 6 1/3 cups apple cider
• 1 bottle red wine
• 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
• 4 cinnamon sticks
• 10-15 whole cloves
• pomegranate seeds for garnish
Put cloves in tea ball infuser or tea bag. Combine apple cider, wine, pomegranate juice, cinnamon sticks and cloves in slow cooker or saucepan. Heat on low until spices have infused. Remove cloves before serving. Garnish with pomegranate seeds in either cider or serving glasses.
For added flare, mix 1/3 cup super fine sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon on small plate. Run lime wedge along rim of serving glass and dip glass in sugar mixture.

Reference information: Xalapa Punch from; Red Velvet Punch – Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich (2006), pg414; Hot Pomegranate Cider adapted from Market-Fresh Mixology, by Bridget Albert (2008), pg 67

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