Gather round the punch bowl, it’s Thanksgiving.
Yes, punch. While everyone else is trying to decide what wine to pair with turkey, this year it’s time to invest in a new holiday tradition: an adult beverage served in an elegant bowl (or pitcher, if Grandma didn’t leave you her good crystal.)
Punch, after all, is a great equalizer. Unlike politics — certain to come up later in the meal — punch brings people together. It’s hard not to be congenial when you’re gathered around a ring of ice and muddled fruit, ladling out a concoction of spirits.
Punches also make for easy hosting as they can be assembled in advance and iced down just before guests arrive. Best of all, unlike the trashcan concoctions of your college days, a good punch isn’t overly boozy. Instead, a delicious, lower-in-alcohol brew that combines (local) spirits and non-alcohol elements lets guests gently imbibe, without getting sauced before the cranberries arrive.
Here are two punches made from local spirits to serve this Thanksgiving.
Black, White, and Fig Jazz Punch
1 part Mahia (a fig brandy made by Yonkers-based Nahmias et Fils)
2 parts apple cider (Dorit Nahmias of Nahmias et Fils recommends Red Jacket Orchards brand)
squeeze of lemon juice
Top frozen ice block or ring with chopped apples or apple slices. Mix Mahia, cider, and lemon in separate bowl, and then pour over ice and fruit. Ladle into glasses.
Afton Club Punch
(Adapted from recipe by cocktail historian David Wondrich)
¾ cup white sugar
16 oz Neversink Spirits Gin
16 oz chilled New York Riesling (not too sweet variety)
16 oz chilled sparkling water
nutmeg for garnishing
Make a lemon shrub: Peel lemons with a vegetable peeler, avoiding pith. Juice lemons and set juice aside. Place peels and sugar in a Mason jar, seal and shake. Leave jar in the sun for three to four hours or overnight. Add reserved lemon juice and shake until sugar is dissolved. Will keep for several days refrigerated.
In a gallon bowl or pitcher, combine lemon shrub (peels and all) with all the liquids; stir gently. Add a 1-quart block of ice or ice ring. Grate nutmeg on top. Ladle into small serving glasses.