Spiced Christmas Punch with Bourbon and Pear

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Spiced Winter Punch

The holidays put me in the mood for punch. Christmas punch.

Punch was once a rather convivial social tradition. People would gather around a punchbowl at parties much the way they gathered around the water cooler at work. It was a way of making contact with the people in your life. Somewhere along the line our social connection began to fray. Water coolers were replaced with disposable plastic bottles and parties began starting with the question, “red or white? Of course the host was referring to wine.

I like wine. But I prefer wine as part of a meal, so I’m pleased that cocktails and all that go with them are making a comeback. This comeback includes punch.

We have David Wondrich to thank for re-introducing us to punch I’d say. In his book,ย Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl he says, that the punch bowl represents a vanished “social ritual … now that we have less face-to-face contact”. The more time we spend living behind our computers and devices the more we yearn to connect in a more personable manner. Call it old-fashioned, but I find my friends have easily adapted the to the punchbowl ritual and are made the happier for it.ย  Because punch, especially Christmas punch has a certain conviviality.

Oliver Wendell Holmes recognized the social aspects of punch and even wrote a poem that starts with the stanza:

THIS ancient silver bowl of mine,โ€”it tells of good old times,
Of joyous days, and jolly nights, and merry Christmas chimes;
They were a free and jovial race, but honest, brave, and true,
That dipped their ladle in the punch when this old bowl was new.ย  

What I’m trying to say is this. The conviviality of the season has inspired me to make a Christmas punch. A rather traditional Christmas punch at that. The English probably adapted the idea of punch from India along with the spices you’ll often find in the most traditional recipes. The word punch probably comes from the Hindi “pantch” meaning “five”, and early recipes tended to specify this number of components: alcohol, sugar, lemon, tea and spices. However I’ve replaced the tea with something bubbly. Tis the season. GREG

Spiced Winter Christmas Punch

Spiced Winter Punch with Bourbon and Pears

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 12Published

SPICED SIMPLE SYRUP: Stir together 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture boils, add 1 oz of lightly cracked whole spices such as allspice, whole cloves, star anise and cinnamon sticks, or to taste. Lower heat to low and continue cooking until a syrupy consistency is achieved, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Strain through a wire-mesh sieve double-lined with damp cheese cloth into an airtight container, discarding solids. Syrup may be stored covered in a cool dark place for up to 1 month.

GINGER SYRUP: Stir together 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture boils, add 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger. Lower heat to low and continue cooking until a syrupy consistency is achieved, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Strain through a wire-mesh sieve double-lined with damp cheese cloth into an airtight container, discarding solids. Syrup may be stored covered in a cool dark place for up to 1 month.

Spiced Winter Punch

Ingredients

  • 1 (750ml) bottle bourbon
  • 8 ounce pear nectar
  • 4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 ounce spiced simple syrup (see notes)
  • 3 ounce ginger syrup (see notes)
  • 1 (750ml) bottle Champagne or other sparkling wine
  • 12 dash Walnut bitters (optional)
  • 12 extra large ice cubes

Directions

Add bourbon, pear nectar, lemon juice, spiced simple syrup, ginger syrup to a punch bowl, stir and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve add the Champagne or other sparkling wine along with the bitters (if using).

Serve with a single large ice cube in a small punch glass.