I will go under oath, in court, solemnly swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and state that I think Egg Nog is the most holy of all holiday beverages. I’ve been making my own for the past fifteen years, I’ve written about it extensively, and I’ve consumed more than my share. But even I am forced to admit that there are other holiday beverages worth exploring.
Traditional holiday cocktails tend to be either cold and creamy, or hot and spicy. Your options are pretty much limited to the Egg Nog family or the Mulled Wine family. But a few years ago I noticed a recipe that I had to try and I’ve been serving it at my bars and at home to my friends and family ever since: a tequila and apple cider punch by my friend Joaquin Simó.
Typically, the holidays means preparing a lot of food and drinks, as my time spent in the kitchen last week can attest. This is where punch always comes to the rescue; a big bowl of punch set on the table means less time spent making drinks for guests, and more time available for socializing.
Joaquin’s blend of tequila, tea-infused vermouth, cinnamon bitters, and apple cider captures the flavors of the season perfectly, with ingredients I typically have on hand during the holidays. And it’s served cold, so I don’t have to worry about keeping it warm with some sort of crock-pot hack. Just a nice block of ice plopped right in the middle will do.
Lights Out Punch
Adapted from a recipe by Joaquin Simó
· 1½ tbsp. orange spice black tea (regular black tea if you can’t find it)
· 12 oz. sweet vermouth
· (1) 750 ml bottle reposado tequila (seek out the Selección de 1414 Reposado if you can)
· 12 oz. fresh apple cider
· 8 oz. fresh lemon juice
· 4 oz. 2:1 Demerara syrup
· ½ tsp. Angostura bitters
· ½ tsp. Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters
· 24 oz. club soda, chilled
Combine the tea and vermouth and let sit for at least an hour. Strain. Combine the infused vermouth and remaining ingredients in a punch bowl or other container, and refrigerate until chilled. Add the soda and serve with cinnamon sticks and thin apple slices.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.
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