Punch up Your Next Party: A Sparkling Spring Recipe

This sparkling strawberry and pineapple punch captures the flavors from this season, when winter melts into spring.
This sparkling strawberry and pineapple punch captures the flavors from this season, when winter melts into spring.

If you’ve been to a popular mixology bar in the past six months, you probably already know that punch is the hip drink on offer right now. The vintage concoction that your grandma or Aunt Gert loved making is having a Renaissance of sorts.

Of course, a certain sort of punch never really lost its appeal at kids birthdays or coming out parties, but that’s not the drink I’m talking about. The punch that’s popular again takes its cues from the circa 1740s mix of fruits, spirits, spice and wine that Esquire’s Dave Wondrich writes about so ably in Punch: The Pleasures & Perils of the Flowing Bowl.

My sparkling cocktail recipe book The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion (Clarkson Potter, 2009) features several punch recipes, including the popular Framboise Apricot Punch which features three kinds of spirits plus bubbly.

The March issue of Sunset, the fabulous circa 1889 magazine of Western living, features a spring punch I created in the front of the book.

I paired strawberries, the first fruit that comes on strong in spring with juicy winter pineapple and fragrant Meyer lemon zest and juice. The potency came from aromatic Zaya Rum from Trinidad and St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, which adds a most delightful floral note and sweetness. Then I tamed it all a bit with some jasmine green tea. The last step is adding some ice.

It’s best to do this in a large chunk, so it melts slowly and dilutes the punch, an important key to not having a bunch of sloshed guests, as they will find your punch irresistible. I made a decorative ice ring in a bundt cake mold, decorating it with strawberries, lemon slices and mint.

Make a pretty ice ring for your punch by decorating it with fruit and herbs.
Make a pretty ice ring for your punch by decorating it with fruit and herbs.

You can serve a punch in anything, but they look more dramatic in a punch bowl. The fashionable style right now at punch-friendly mixology bars like Craft & Commerce in San Diego, where they mix punch with fine Raventos i Blanc Cava, Clyde Common in Portland or Rickhouse in San Francisco is the opaque, milk glass or ceramic bowl from the 1950s and 60s.

If I’ve whetted your appetite for a a punch recipe that you can try right now, here’s the intoxicating Framboise Apricot Punch recipe from www.thebubblygirl.com.

Great Ideas for Last Minute Valentine’s Day Drinks & Food

Even if you already celebrated Valentine’s Day over the weekend, it’s nice to extend the love-fest one more day, no? So if you’re still trying to think of something special and easy to treat your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day, you’re in luck. I’ve put together a slide show of some of my favorite pink foods and drinks — along with simple recipes and wine pairing suggestions.

Most of the recipes have appeared at some time or another on The Bubbly Girl.com. Stop by the recipes section at The Bubbly Girl for the Kismet Cocktail, Raspberry Royale cocktail, the Chocolate Corks which is airy but chocolaty and moist since it starts with a yeast-based chocolate dough.

To make the super-simple and classic Jack Rose cocktail, add 1 ounce Pama pomegranate liqueur, two ounces applejack (or Calvados if you can’t find it) and the juice of half a lime to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake it until your hands are really cold, then strain it into a smallish martini glass.

You could pick up ingredients for most of these recipes at Trader Joe’s, along with the super-affordable Blason Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé, which comes from Burgundy. The Italian sparkling dessert wine Brachetto d’Acqui is getting more and more popular; it’s usually at BevMo or a larger liquor stores with a decent wine department.

Cin cin!

The Raspberry Dream: A Yummy Valentine’s Day Cocktail

Raspberries, Chambord and a splash of cream make for a deliciously dreamy cocktail sure to please any Valentine..
Raspberries, Chambord and a splash of cream make for a deliciously dreamy cocktail sure to please any Valentine..

It’s that season when people start thinking about red and pink drinks — the two staple colors of Valentine’s season entertaining. I love working with red fruits like raspberries because the color is so inviting and the sweet-tart berries add such a bright flavor.

I was thinking about a grown-up raspberry milkshake when I came up with this Raspberry Dream cocktail that mixes the fruit with the black raspberry liqueur Chambord, vanilla-infused vodka and a splash of half-and-half.

If you need another reason besides deliciousness to drink your raspberries, it turns out they’re really good for you. Raspberries are high in ellagic acid which helps prevent free radical damage and the flavonoid compounds quercetin and kaempferol, which play a role in fighting a number of diseases, according to World’s Healthiest Foods. Black raspberries may help ward off colon cancer, according to this study from the University of Illinois at Chicago reported on Science Daily.com.

Sounds good to me!

Raspberry Dream
4 fresh or frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon half-and-half
2 ounces Chambord
1 ounce vanilla-infused vodka, see Note

Muddle the raspberries in a cocktail shaker glass. Add the half-and-half, Chambord,
simple syrup, vodka and ice. Shake until well-chilled. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish
with a raspberry.

Note: Making your own vanilla vodka is easy, just slit a vanilla bean, slide it into your favorite vodka and wait a few days.
© The Bubbly Girl, 2011