December 2, 2022
Sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics. This here (or, below here) is my recipe for Champagne Punch, the one I picked up from family holiday gatherings when I was a wee one, the one I was making for parties long before even this blog started (so, dinosaurs were walking the earth), and long before I put the recipe in Good Spirits (and probably others books and articles), and long before I started typing this sentence (which is itself rather long now, though not as long as some by, say, Henry James). It’s a basic ol’ bubbly fruity rummy punchy number, not all la-de-da, but very solid, very tasty, and very much a sparkling treat that’s wonderful around the holiday season – which, low and behold, we are now in, or nearly in if you don’t want to jump the gun. A stance I understand, but good to be prepared pals! So, have the basic recipe below in your back pocket – it’s sure to be a hit at your holiday gatherings, which I’m sure will be anything but basic.
Ice (in block form if possible; if not, large chunks)
6 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
4 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces white rum
6 ounces dark rum
Once 750-milliliter bottle chilled Champagne
Orange, lime, and lemon slices, for garnish
1. Add the ice to a large punch bowl. If using chunks (as opposed to a large block of ice), fill the bowl just under halfway.
2. Add the orange juice, simple syrup, lime juice, and lemon juice. With a large spoon or ladle, stir 10 times.
3. Add the white and dark rums. Stir 10 more times.
4. Add Champagne, but not too quickly. Enjoy the moment. Add a goodly amount of orange, lime, and lemon slices. Stir, but only once.
5. Ladle into punch glasses or festive goblets. Try to ensure that every guest gets a slice of fruit and a smile.
December 26, 2021
If you can, picture this: it is 86 years ago today (you have to use your imagination here, people). You are with the family, or friends, or just solo, and decide to go to a movie. What do you pick? Why The Philadelphia Story, of course. Romance, comedy, and the legendary trio of Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart? How could you go to anything else! And then, while watching you get to hear the below quote, which is an ideal Cocktail Talk. Of course, it being today and not 86 years ago, you can just stream up said movie. Go to!
Champagne’s funny stuff. I’m used to whiskey. Whiskey is a slap on the back, and Champagne’s a heavy mist before my eyes.
–Jimmy Stewart, The Philadelphia Story
November 12, 2021
Sometimes I think to myself, what a wonderful world of drink-making ingredients we’re living within. The change since I came of drinking age (which admittedly was many a moon ago) is remarkable – heck, the change in the last decade, or even five years, is pretty remarkable. How lucky us cocktail lovers are! And there are more delicious delectables in beautiful bottles coming our way all the time. Even luckier! For example, just the other day, a beautiful bottle arrived in the post (luckiest me – don’t be jealous), containing Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin with Sardinian Citrus:
A “novel expression” (sidenote: I love the usage of the word “expression” here, and in other spots, to refer to a slightly, not completely, new version of a spirit or liqueur) of the original Drumshanbo Gin, this adds notes of, well, Sardinian citrus, “Sa Pompia” to be exact, one of the rarest fruits in the world, and a fruit sitting between an orange and grapefruit in flavor essence, though part of the lemon family. Not something you’d eat solo, but with a peel that can bring fantastic citrus dreams when used correctly. But, before peeling that any more, let’s back up. If you don’t know, Drumshanbo Gin itself takes its full name from the fact that it’s made in a small village in Ireland, and with a signature ingredient: Gunpowder Tea (which is a green tea rolled into gun-pellet-esque balls). But that’s just the beginning of this gin story! That tea and the Sardinian citrus, grapefruit, and lime are vapor infused into the gin, while a host of botanicals (juniper, as you’d expect, plus angelica and orris root, caraway and coriander seed, cardamom, star anise, and lesser-know flowery herb meadowsweet) are distilled in a medieval copper still. Whew! But what’s it all mean? On the nose, a strong, distinctive citrus medley, orange with underlying grapefruit, with subtle hints of juniper and flowers and springtime. The taste reflects the nose, but flipped a bit, with bountiful botanicals bursting on the tongue, with that green tea flavor coming through, swirled with citrus and then ending herbally. Yummy!
It’s a curious collection of ingredients, all balanced out nice, and one I couldn’t resist trying in a drink, after sipping it solo. And I had the perfect moment, with some pals coming over for lunch. As we’re at the point in the calendar where the holidays are in view, my mind went instantly to a bubbly cocktail (as the past weeks have shown, I am a fan of the holiday/sparkling combo). I played around a little with things, and ended up leaning into the citrus side of the gin, complementing it with a little more orange and a smidge of sweet in the form of Grand Marnier, and then doubling and tripling the herb-and-citrus song by the addition of two fantastic citrusy bitters: Scrappy’s lovely Grapefruit bitters and Orange bitters. I’m not gonna lie: I think with just those ingredients, there’s a pretty swell cocktail. But adding prosecco really drives all the flavors up, up, up with every bubble, into a memorable sparkling mix that’s ideal for the holidays — and for lunch with pals. When drinking, maybe throw out a toast to our modern drinker’s world, too, and how wonderful it is.
The Suspended Palace
1 ounce Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin with Sardinian Citrus
1/2 ounce Grand Mariner
1 dash Scrappy’s Grapefruit bitters
1 dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters
4 to 5 ounces chilled Prosecco
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Drumshanbo gin, Grand Marnier, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain the mix into a flute or comparable glass. Top with the chilled Prosecco. Stir carefully, to combine.
July 9, 2021
Oh, the life of a 1500’s explorer and colonialist, traipsing around under the sunshine, and probably never having this drink. I mean, without a time machine, I’ll admit, if I knew where and why this particular drink was attached to this particular explorer, I can’t remember it. There is a nice French and the Caribbean tying-in, as the drink features the boldness and beauty of both Cognac and rum, so at least there is some here-to-there-ing happening (though Ponce was from Spain, but let’s bring the Euro together today). However! The drink also contains Cointreau, which naturally came about a little later. And then there’s grapefruit juice and sparkling wine, which might imply a little globe-trotting. It’s a little elegant, which could be like the curve of a conquistador’s helmet, if you want to go along that particular flight of fancy. But overall, I think it’s that if you drink a couple of these, you may decide to go exploring, or at least meander in your mind hither and yon, or at least sit on the couch and watch a program that takes you on a exploration. However! If you want to just enjoy this layered, effervescent, citrus-y, number on a sunshine-y day without worrying about how our explorer name ties in, I certainly wouldn’t hassle you about it.
The Ponce de León, from Dark Spirits
1 ounce Cognac
1/2 ounce white rum
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, rum, Cointreau, and grapefruit juice. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into saucer-style Champagne glass or cocktail or coupe glass. Fill the glass not quite to the top with the Champagne.
January 30, 2015
I’ve had a Blue Train cocktail up here on the Spiked Punch blog in the past, and it’s a good drink. There is, however, another Blue Train cocktail I like, based on one I saw called the Blue Train Special. It’s a bubbly mix, a celebratory number, an effervescent affair, one that’s sure to provide a hint of elegance for those occasions that demand such. You should try it, whether you’re on a train or not. Though really, it might be, now that I think about it, better when actually had on a train.
The Blue Train, from Champagne Cocktails
1 1/2 ounces brandy
1 ounce fresh pineapple juice
Chilled brut sparkling wine
Pineapple chunk, for garnish, (optional)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the brandy and pineapple juice. Shake well.
2. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a Champagne flute. Top with chilled sparkling wine and garnish with a pineapple chunk on a toothpick.
December 26, 2014
This bubble number is ideal for taking your New Year’s Eve celebrations from mundane to insane (in the good way), from dull to dandy, and from so-so to go-go. Not only does it take the spotlight drink into another realm of awesome, but as it’s also a drink that inducing dancing, it’s sure to add the hop to your New Year’s Eve step. It does take a little bit of prior planning, cause you have to make lavender simple syrup. But that’s not tough at all. Just add 1/4-cup fresh lavender, 2 cups sugar, and 1-1/2 cups water to a medium-sized saucepan. Raise the heat to medium high, and heat until it reaches a low boil, stirring regularly. Once it reaches that low boil, reduce the heat to medium low and keep the syrup at a simmer, still stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Then strain it, and start singing Auld Lang Syne.
The Lavanda, from Champagne Cocktails
2 fresh lavender sprigs
1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce lavender simple syrup (see note)
1. Add the flowers from the top of one lavender sprig, gin, and lavender simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Shake like dancer.
2. Strain into a flute. Top with chilled Prosecco, and garnish with the second lavender sprig.
January 24, 2014
I’m just gonna come out and say it – I hold you in high esteem. First off, because you’re reading this blog (hah! Thanks). Secondly, cause I’m holding out hope that you’ll try this drink, which shares a name with the feeling I have for you. Jeez, is this still making sense? I hope so. Anywho, if you do try this drink, you’ll like it I’ll bet. And then hold me in high esteem as well. Then everything will have completed the boozy circle.
The Esteem, from Champagne Cocktails
1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce Meletti anisette
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Chilled brut Champagne
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, anisette, and lime juice. Shake while smiling.
2. Strain into a two flute glass and fill almost to the rim with chilled Champagne.
March 14, 2012
I liked the first round of Mr. Sponge cocktail-talking so much that I’ve decided to extend his run on the Spiked Punch with two more quotes, one today and one the next time I decide to post (which should be later this week, but who knows, really? I could be called off to battle Gamera. That stuff happens). This time, there’s a bit of a party and Mr. Sponge is invited. And you are too (at least through this quote):
Sir Harry and party had had a wet night of it, and were all more or less drunk. They had kept up the excitement with a Champagne breakfast and various liqueurs, to say nothing of cigars. They were a sad, debauched-looking set, some of them scarcely out of their teens, with pallid cheek, trembling hands, sunken eyes, and all the symptoms of premature decay.
–Cocktail Talk, R.S. Surtees, Mr. Sponge’s Sporting Tour