A Good Punch Is Something To Be Thankful For

photo by Amanda Schuster
photo by Amanda Schuster

Thanksgiving is supposed to be festive and fun, but it can also be hectic. If your gathering is anything like the one my family hosts, there’s a lot to coordinate. There’s the shopping and the cleaning and the food prepping and the table setting and turkey carving and where to arrange all the plates of hot food. There’s always some debate over when to start re-heating the homemade chestnut soup so it’s served at a proper temperature somewhere between slightly warm and boiling cauldron of doom. Guests never arrive at the same time when they're supposed to, and with so much activity and preparation, stirring and shaking cocktails for everyone feels more like work than fun.

That’s why having a good punch on hand is something to be thankful for. Ladle a round for guests and if something comes up that requires your attention, (hey, just call that soufflé a “pudding” instead, no one will notice!), they can easily help themselves and you won’t feel guilty for leaving them thirsty. Once it comes together, and it does so with a fair amount of ease, the work is done. Until you have to clean the bowl.

A couple of years ago I shared my recipe for one of the Schuster family favorites of the autumn season over the years, what I call the Welcome Distraction. This year’s punch uses the same tried and true Pie Spiced Simple syrup recipe I created (why futz with what ain’t broke, right?), however I changed up the other ingredients for a sparkling pear cider variation, with brandy and rum. Can’t find pear? This recipe will still work beautifully with apple cider. Serves 10 people with about 2 - 3 servings each. 

Behold, the Spicy Standish!

Garnish: Sliced tangerine and lemon wheels

Recommended: Freeze small bowl or coffee mug of water overnight to make a giant ice dome, which will keep the drink chilled, but impart less water into it as it sits out than regular ice. Large ice spheres or cubes would also work.

Add all the liquids into a punch bowl and give it a good stir. Add sliced fruit and arrange to alternate the colors. Just before guests are due to arrive, add the ice. Ladle away!

Pie Spiced Simple Syrup

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Demerara Sugar
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 5 Cloves
  • 5 Dried Allspice Berries
  • 3 Cardamom Pods

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. On medium heat, bring to just the point of bubbling. Lower heat and simmer uncovered until sugar dissolves and mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 15 – 20 minutes. Strain and let cool. Keeps in refrigerator for about 1 week.

From all of us at Alcohol Professor - Happy Thanksgiving!!!