I am often asked for advice on entertaining with Bourbon. On our recent trip on the American Duchess, our dinner table mates, Bill and Nancy, were asking about a Bourbon Punch they could serve at a party they were planning when they got home from the trip. I realized then that I had not done a blog on punches, so I thought I would use the same advice I gave Nancy – Look in The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book by Joy Perrine and Susan Reigler. There are several recipes in the book and here are a few of them.
Old Fashioned Cocktail Punch
2 cups Bourbon (80 – 90 proof), ½ cup simple syrup, 3 tablespoons Angostura bitters, 1 cup fresh orange juice, ½ cup fresh lemon juice, 1 cup water. In a 1 ½ quart pitcher, combine all of the ingredients and stir well. Add Ice and 20 stemmed cherries, 12 orange half wheels, and small slices of star fruit.
Catfish House Punch
½ cup brown sugar syrup, ½ cup lemon juice, 2 cups cooled fresh tea, 1 ½ cups Bourbon (80-90 proof), ½ cup peach brandy, ½ cup Cruzan rum, ½ cup DeKuyper Peachtree schnapps, 12-15 lemon wheels, pineapple wedges (optional). In a 1 ½ quart glass pitcher or punch bowl, combine and stir all ingredients. Add ice and lemon wheels. Serve in glass or silver punch cups. Pineapple wedges make a nice addition.
I then looked in More Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails by Perrine and Reigler and found this recipe:
Kentucky Summer Fruit Punch
1 liter Kentucky Bourbon, 1 cup brown sugar syrup, 1 12 ounce can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed. Combine liquids in a large punch bowl and whisk together. Add: 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup chopped pineapple, 1 cup sliced strawberries, I cup chopped peaches. Add a 750 ml bottle of sparkling wine. Stir to combine and ladle into ice filled cups. Include some fruit in each cup.
My next stop was to look in Gary Regan’s The Bartender’s Bible. Gary has never let me down when looking for good recipes and I found he has a whole chapter titled “Party Punches”. Unfortunately, there was only one recipe that used Bourbon.
Wedding Bell Punch
2 cups lemon juice, 1 cup superfine sugar, 16 ounces ( 2 cups) Bourbon, 12 ounces (1 ½ cups) anejo rum, 4 ounces crème de cacao, 1 split (187 ml) chilled Champagne, 2 liters dry red wine, 8 ounces sweet vermouth, 16 ounces (2 cups) club soda, 16 ounces (2 cups) ginger ale, 2 oranges cut into slices, 2 quarts strawberries, hulled and quartered. Stir the lemon juice and sugar together in a large punch bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Add the Bourbon, rum, crème de cacao, Champagne, red wine, vermouth, club soda and ginger ale. Stir well. Add 1 large block of ice and garnish with the orange slices and strawberries.
Although we have not been in large gatherings for a while, punches are a necessity at large gatherings. The holidays, weddings, family reunions or birthdays can call for a punch bowl filled with your favorite recipe. These are a few of the recipes out there in print and I expect there are more to find. The one place I did not find a punch recipe was in Molly Wellman’s book, Handcrafted Cocktails. As the one time owner of Myrtle’s Punch House in Cincinnati, I am sure she has a lot of punch recipes. I want to end this blog by saying to Molly, “`There is your next book. Please write it.”
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller