Wine & Spirits
Mixologist Johnny Michaels gives suggestions for your holiday festivities
It’s the season for a lot of things, and, unfortunately, stressing out is one of them. If you’re throwing a holiday party, just remember to have fun yourself and everything will turn out awesome. A great way to do that is to serve a festive punch. It’s more manageable and a lot easier than letting people trample your home bar and wine collection. Punch is also quite fashionable these days, much like pre-Prohibition recipes. But while those recipes sound good, you can tell they were invented before DUI laws. Do your guests a favor by not giving them the gift of a crippling hangover.
One ingredient that I haven’t seen in a lot of old-school punches is Spanish cava. Think of it as club soda with more personality. I’ve found it to be the best bubble value for mixing with more flavorful ingredients, since all we’re looking for is acid to balance out the sweet. If you’re going to make up your own recipe, try out a mini version before making a big batch. Start with a base liquor and a sweet element (maybe a liqueur, flavored syrup, or fruit juice concentrate), then balance it out with the cava and some citrus. Pre-chill the ingredients, even the bowl if you can, and make a big ice wreath, using a Bundt pan, to keep your punch cold. It could be as easy as this apple number: equal parts apple vodka, fresh apple cider, and cava. Garnish the bowl with apple slices and fresh cranberries.
Enjoy the season!
Johnny Michaels is head bartender at La Belle Vie.