Looking for good — and easy — holiday drinks, I turned to some local experts: Chris Milligan, the Santa Fe Barman, of Secreto; and Natalie Bovis, The Liquid Muse, of Milagro. The consensus is punches. You don't want to be stuck mixing drinks all night when you could be mixing with your friends and family.
Scarlet PunchFrom Chris's blog and the Winter Edible Santa Fe; see a video at SantaFe.com. One of the great things about this recipe is that the alcohol is added later, increasing its versatility.
1 bottle cranberry juice
1 bottle sparking apple cider
apple, cranberries or other decorative fruits (optional)
liquor of choice
Start the day before! Make an ice mold: fill a large container (1/2 a milk jug, Tupperware, plastic jello mold) 3/4 full with water and set in the freezer. Toss a few cranberries and apple slices in there as well to make it decorative.
In a saute pan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of whole allspice and 1 tablespoon of whole cloves (cinnamon sticks are good, too) until fragrant. Meanwhile, put container of cranberry juice in a pitcher. When spices are fragrant, toss them into the pitcher. Take one orange and slice into wheels, and toss in the pitcher as well. Put everything in the fridge til the next day.
When you are ready to serve, pour the contents of the pitcher into a punch bowl, gently add your ice mold, then top with 1/2 a bottle of sparking cider.
What should the liquor be? In this punch, Chris recommends 1 oz. bourbon, and 1/2 oz. Southern Comfort — or brandy, or spiced or gold rum.
Fiesta PunchNatalie notes that this punch is served at Milagro, where she uses their house tea. You can experiment with different, maybe flavored, herbal teas.
1 1/2 cups flavored rum (pineapple, coconut — whatever tickles your fancy)
3/4 cup lime juice
3/4 cup simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar)
1 cups tea
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
Combine ingredients and ladle over ice-filled punch cups. Serves 12.