DRINKS ON YOU, THE SHARED SIP
Tips for making the perfect holiday punch.
WRITTEN BY MICHAEL C. MOBERLY
ILLUSTRATION BY HEATHER KLINGER
Here come the holidays. What better way to celebrate them than with a glass of something shared? Of course, I’m talking about my favorite cocktail tradition: punch. All you need is a cocktail you enjoy, a large container, and a group of loved ones to drink with. Bartenders adore a punch because it’s a sip we all have together, and it can be easy and fun to create. I asked some local barkeeps for some of their tips and tricks for creating the perfect punch.
Stay a good, long time
Keeping track of how much of the hard stuff you’re adding to your punch is important. I recommend making a single serving first. Scale it up based on the number of guests and how many drinks you want to make available to them. Remember, the reason we shake and stir is mostly to add water. Keep track of the water you add to your cocktail by measuring the volume before and after you shake or stir.
“A punch is obviously a lot more volume than a cocktail, and I’ve seen people get carried away with the booze,” says Sean Stitt, manager of Reno’s Chapel Tavern. “I want people to have a good time for the whole evening, not just a half hour and then get sick.”
Dress it up
A punch can be a blast to dress up for the occasion. It’s easy to add flourishes that create picture-perfect sips for your guests.
“My favorite thing to make is a decorative ice ring using a Bundt cake baking tin,” says Natalie Handler, bartender at Under the Rose in Reno. “I will layer in fruit and sliced citrus before freezing to dress it up and make it beautiful.”
Edible flowers, cinnamon sticks, and large-format ice are beautiful and inexpensive additions to any punch.
Keep it light and seasonal
“Juice early and juice often,” says Chris Costa, owner of Reno Public House. Freshly pressed juices and lower alcohol by volume make it easy to enjoy that punch all night. Sparkling wine as a base for punch also is a pro move, as it’s approachable and screams celebration. Keep your guests in mind when choosing ingredients — food allergies can ruin a celebration. Your best bet is to take a trip down to your local co-op and find out what’s in season, then build your punch around that. This time of year, citrus fruits, pears, apples, kiwis, and pomegranates are prevalent.
The most important aspect to remember when making any cocktail is the golden rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Make something you want to drink and share because that’s what a punch is all about: the shared sip.
Michael C. Moberly is the spirits program director for Whispering Vine Wine Co. in Reno and a local spirits educator. His 10 years in the industry have been spent learning, loving, and imbibing with some of its best minds, both locally and nationally. He also is good at wearing hats.
Photo by Candice Vivien
The Kentucky Hug
(courtesy of Michael C. Moberly, spirits program director, Whispering Vine Wine Co. in Reno. Serves about 4)
24 ounces (3 cups) bourbon
1 cup dry curaçao
1 cup Cannella Cinnamon Cordial
1 cup lemon juice
2 ounces Angostura bitters
2½ cups water
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons whole cloves
Peel from 1 orange
Combine ingredients well and serve with ice. Enjoy!