At the old job, it was hardly a secret was quite known for enjoyment of mixology, and I never really minded sharing. Having a lot of people to “keep watered” as the kids used to say, could provide a logistical challenge depending on demand, at least if you wanted to hand craft cocktails for an army of folks.
As a natural result of that, I’ve found my way into experimenting quite a bit with champagne punches, particularly after trying the fabulous Rosemary, Baby! punch from Serious Eats. (It is an excellent intro to champagne punches for anyone by the way.)
Using that rough ratio, I’ve enjoyed great success in producing mass quantities of libations that required little in the way of personal supervision or hands on delivery.
One of my more famed recipes came due to a request from the front desk asking for some assistance during Halloween. It being a season for pumpkins, the first though that came to mind was somehow incorporating a pumpkin shrub into the punch, and cinnamon for that autumnal feeling. I did think about adding more of the spices associated with pumpkin pie but…. I had a schedule to keep! To skip to the recipe click here.
The first step I needed to do was to break down some pumpkin to make the shrub.
This required a lot of handy knife work and a lot of peeling. I think in the future I may skip the peeling part, and I imagine a good scrub of the skin would be enough
Next, cover with sugar and let soak overnight.
It’s kind of incredible how much of the liquid gets pulled out of the pumpkin.
Marvel at it briefly, and think about how precious life is. Life and moisturizer.
Then strain out the solid pumpkin, and measure or eyeball your remaining syrup. Add an equal amount of vinegar to the remaining syrup, along with a bit of cinnamon.
Now you’re ready to get mixing. As always, restraint is key.
For my shrub based cocktails, I like to do roughly 1 part hard liquor, 1 part shrub, 5 parts champagne and 5 parts sparkling water, and top with ice and garnish. Also for a bit of tartness depth, I added another part of cranberry juice in this concoction. Vodka and bourbon have proven to work well.
Oh, and make sure to use the cheap stuff for the sparkling wine. Save the great stuff for drinking on its own.
Pumpkin Shrub Champagne Punch (aka, Booooooo-rbon punch / Punchkin Spice Harvest Punch)
- 2 cups hard liquor (bourbon or vodka, depending on your tastes)
- 2 cups pumpkin cinnamon shrub (see recipe below)
- 2 bottles of sparkling wine
- 10 cups of sparkling water (or approximately 2 wine bottles worth)
- 2 cups of cranberry juice
- Ice to top
- Citrus slices for garnish
- Into a large pitcher/punch container add all of the ingredients in order from liquor to cranberry juice
- Top at least a few cups of ice
- Stir well, and serve
- 1 sugar pie pumpkin – cut into chunks (maybe peeled)
- Apple cider vinegar
- 2 to 4 cinnamon sticks or a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- Put pumpkin into a non reactive container
- Cover with sugar and shake to distribute evenly
- Let set overnight until the sugar dissolves
- Strain out the pumpkin solids
- Add an equal portion of apple cider vinegar to the amount of pumpkin sugar syrup
- Add a teaspoon or so of cinnamon, or crack in some cinnamon sticks
- Let soak for 2-4 days until sugar dissolves