Saturday, January 3, 2015

Easy Cider Punch

This is a simple, low-proof punch that I put together for our Christmas party, and then assembled again at request for our good friends' New Years' party (making this Kader Punch #2, I suppose). Unlike a lot of my recent punches, it's alcoholic, but not overly so; somewhere around the 5% ABV you see in craft session beers.

In truth, it started out as an attempt to use up multiple gallons of cider we brewed this year, which were intended as our original party favor. Seeing as it was the first time we'd ever home-brewed... well, anything, that probably wasn't the best plan. The initial fermentation went fine, but the secondary fermentation (to dry out and carbonate the cider) didn't take properly, and we found ourselves with a couple dozen 22-oz bombers of fairly sweet, lightly alcoholic apple juice. What to do? Add some acid, add some bubbles, and serve in a punch bowl. Easy peasy.

We served ours alongside a couple bottles of spirit for enhancement (because it's a fucking party, after all) and I was amazed at how quickly it went. Quickly enough that once again, I didn't manage to get a picture. Between both parties, we're talking like 4 gallons here, more if you include the volume of ice, polished off to the last drop. Everybody found their favorite spirit combo, too. My sister swore by vodka, my personal favorite was scotch, but most people settled on gin. The only combination that didn't work was when I accidentally added horseradish-infused vodka to my glass of punch. Just... no. Learn from my horrible mistake. (I drank it, of course, to punish myself for such foolishness.)

Anyway, because this used home-brew cider, duplicating the recipe is a little bit problematic. Most ciders you find at your friendly neighborhood booze-mart will be carbonated, which is better for consumption on its own, but they'll get expensive in these quantities. There's not a lot of still cider out there, but Crispin does make a still, affordable boxed version which would do nicely. Failing that, you could brew your own, which is really pretty easy, or you could just pony up and buy a sufficient quantity of sparkling cider.

1 3-liter box (or 5 22-oz bomber bottles) apple cider
2 750 mL bottles brut rose cava (Cristalino is my highly affordable go-to) 
2 1-liter bottles soda water (or break out the siphon)
4 oz lemon oleo-saccharum
4 oz thyme syrup
4 oz cranberry juice (the actual real stuff, not cranberry cocktail)
10 dashes Peychaud's bitters
10 dashes Angostura bitters

Chill the cider, cava, and soda water. Add ice to a punch bowl, then add the syrups, cranberry juice, and bitters (you can pre-measure and combine these in a Mason jar for speedy service or transport). Add the cider and stir to combine. Carefully add the cava and soda water, then stir gently. Taste and adjust to your liking; if it's too sweet, try a little lemon juice and additional bitters, if too tart add some extra cider. 

Serve with a few spirits that you want to use up (along with measuring glasses so people don't accidentally over-serve) and get the next batch ready, because the first will be gone quickly.

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