Composing individual craft cocktails when hosting a party can knock a host under the table, stone-cold sober, I might add – forget having time to sip your own. As soon as you’ve finished passing round one, guests are lined up – empty glass in hand – for round two.
One could hire a bartender, I suppose, but budgets are often strained at this time of the year. Punch bowl to the rescue! I hosted two holiday gatherings last week and served this punch at both parties.
I wanted a punch of flavor, character and distinction, but not one that would insist my guests remain for a slumber party. After a consultation with Lucy, the high-octane calvados I was considering, was nixed in favor of a Lillet aperitif and sparkling ciders. I loved the addition of hard cider, good bitters (avoid those with artificial colorings and a glycerine base) and freshly grated nutmeg in the brew. Save your fine champagnes to accompany caviar; the Trader Joe’s sparkling wine I used was really quite decent.
Last night I served a platter of canapés (roast beef and cheese spread leftovers from the previous party…shhhh!) alongside the punch. When making canapés, the base is critical. I’m loving those super thin 34 Degree Crisps for dipping and last minute assembly, but last night they limped a bit after sitting under blankets of cheesy moisture 30 minutes. My homemade crostini (don’t slice the bread too thick) and dense, thin German breads are ideal palates for pre-assembled canapés.