I love a good holiday party: the twinkly lights and decor, the fancy hors d’oeuvres, the chance to unwind with friends old and new. Holiday parties are a time to let loose, celebrate, and get a little swept up in all the merriment. I’ve gone to all kinds of holiday parties since living in the Washington, D.C. area—from small, intimate get-togethers where friends bring plates of their favorite cookies to big, lively affairs where the food and drink are as swanky as the attire, and live music is played well into the night. When my husband and I take our turn as hosts (our parties are definitely on the smaller, more intimate end of the spectrum), we like to serve something a little more festive than our typical go-to wines and beers, but we also don’t want to play bartender all night. (I tried making Champagne cocktails for a gathering a few years ago and the whole evening was a little harried.) I’m sure many of you feel the same way when hosting. The simple solution for all of us? A big bowl of punch.
Punch and I go way back. I helped my mom make the fizzy 7Up sherbet variety for many a celebration growing up, but for some reason, I tend to forget about it when hosting my own parties. This season, I’m changing that. A well-crafted punch is a signature drink, a dashing centerpiece, and an instant mood setter. It gives us the opportunity to be cocktail mixologist (big-batch style); but in the cool calmness of the kitchen before any guests arrive, it puts guests at ease since they can serve themselves, and it lets us actually enjoy the party we’ve planned. Win, win, win.
This Crimson Bulleit Punch from Oui, Chef is the perfect example of a holiday cocktail done right. It’s ruby red from pomegranate juice, softly spicy from ginger liqueur, effervescent from Champagne, and boozy from bourbon. It’s a surefire crowd-pleaser, the type of punch that’ll convert even skeptics with its balance and complexity of flavor.
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If you want to go from fancy to fancier (channeling your inner Gatsby when planning your holiday soirée), add an ice ring bedazzled with pomegranate arils, cranberries, and lime slices to the punch bowl. Make it in a Bundt pan (a tube pan or regular cake pan work, too) the night before the party—or freeze a few if making extra punch. The ice ring keeps everything nicely chilled and adds a little pop of color and a lot of glitz and glamour. All you have to do throughout the evening is keep an eye on the bowl and replenish as needed. Your guests will never want the party to end, and you’ll feel like a host extraordinaire.
Both the punch and ice ring are low-effort, high-reward investments and will add a little magic to your holiday gathering—whether you’re throwing a low-key get-together or an epic-in-its-grandeur type of party. It’ll be an evening so festive, your guests will already be looking forward to next year’s party (and delightful refreshments) as they say goodnight.