Cheers! Punch up your party with these cocktails

Ring in the new year without having to pour drinks all night with these large batch drink recipes

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When it comes to welcoming and celebrating the new year, many people have abandoned the large nightclub or community-based club New Year's Eve bash for a quieter, more intimate night at home with some friends. And there are ways for the host or hostess to enjoy it with their guests without having to play bartender all night.

Mike Shane, bartender at Public Eat + Drink in North Adams, recommends making a punch as the simplest way to go. "It's classic and you can do it in lots of ways." He added you can make a punch and add ice — not too much or it will water the punch down — or keep the punch at room temperature and let your guests add their own ice.

Robin Anish, a regular food columnist for The Berkshire Eagle, said she likes to do a self-serve bar at her get-togethers "because it gives guests something fun to do and promotes activity/conversation."

"Other ideas would be to pick out three different cocktails ... Internet search for interesting, different cocktail recipes that will be fun for guests — then print up a recipe card for each cocktail and do a set up of ingredients for each with the recipe, so guests can help mix their own drink," Anish said. "I would frame each recipe card so it stands up and looks nice and is visible. Of course, use nice glasses, table linens, etc., to make the set up look festive."

Another of Anish's self-serve ideas is a champagne cocktail bar that includes plenty of cold, dry champagne and a variety of additives. "Use champagne flutes, have champagne on ice (or Prosecco) then set out some fruit purees (raspberries, peaches, strawberries), fresh berries/fruit; defrosted orange, lemonade, or other frozen fruit concentrate; liqueurs, rum is OK, but you need a bit of sweetener like honey. Add about 2 tablespoons of fruit puree or liqueur (or a bit of both) to a flute glass and top with champagne. Garnish with fruit and serve."

Shane agreed with the idea of a self-serve bar. In stocking the bar, he recommended a bottle of each of the five basic spirits —vodka, rum, gin, tequila and whiskey — or think of three basic cocktails and take it from there. He recommended Greylock Gin from Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Tito's Vodka and Bulleit rye and bourbon as moderately priced options. "Look around at the ryes and bourbons," he advised. "There are many that are good for mixing."

In addition to the five liquors, Shane suggested adding three liqueurs — Aperol that has a bitter orange flavor; St. Germaine, which boasts a floral flavor from elderflowers, and New Deal Ginger Liqueur, which has a bold ginger spice flavor. "The liqueurs can be added to a sparkling wine for a spritzer for the guest who doesn't want a full cocktail," he said.

Shane suggested adding club soda, tonic and ginger beer to the bar set-up. "With the ginger beer you can make Moscow mules — vodka, lime juice and ginger beer. Swap out the liquor for different mules." Another item on the bar should be bitters, which Shane said are found in supermarkets and not liquor stores. "They come in a host of flavors, and guest who are the designated drivers or who don't want to drink can add a couple of dashes into seltzer," he said "Angosturo bitters has a nice flavor," he said. (Shane is currently developing his own line of bitter, Tonic & Tinctures Bitters Co.)

And when setting up the bar, don't forget to add some bar tools for "a fun element," Shane said. Include a cocktail shaker, a jigger for measuring the liquors and liqueurs, a long-handled spoon for stirring and a strainer for separating drinks from the ice they were shaken with.

Another idea is to create a batch drink by scaling up a basic recipe, such as a single margarita, and multiplying the amount of the ingredients by the number of servings desired. "Make up a pitcher of margaritas, have salt or chili salt on plates to rim the glass, and have lime slices as garnishes. The guests can grab a glass, rim it with salt, pour their own margarita and add the garnish."



CLASSIC PUNCH

(Courtesy of Mike Shane, adapted from 'The Curious Bartender' by Tristan Stephenson)

Makes 10 servings

Stir together:

4 ounces white granulated sugar

13 1/2 ounces water

6 3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice

Add:

13 1/3 ounces of rum (not white rum, for a slightly different taste, use spiced rum. Shane suggested using Appleton Estates or Berkshire Mountain Distilleries rum.)

6 3/4 ounces of cognac (any middle-of the-road cognac, Shane said, such as Remy Martin or Hennessey)

1 1/4 ounce peach brandy

Stir all the ingredients together. Stir occasionally, during serving so it doesn't separate.

WINTER MARGARITA

(Courtesy Mike Shane)

Servings: 1, increase ingredients according to servings desired)

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 ounce white tequila (Shane suggested Hornitos or Espolon)

3/4 ounce Cointreau (Triple Sec may be substituted)

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

3/4 ounce fresh grapefruit juice

DIRECTIONS:

Mix or shake together in shake with ice.

SPICED RUM PUNCH

(Courtesy of Robin Anish)

Combine and serve over ice:

1 pint spiced rum

1 liter cranberry juice

1 liter ginger ale

2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice

FRUITED BURGUNDY PUNCH

(Courtesy of Robin Anish)

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup sugar

750 ml bottle burgundy wine

4 oz brandy

2 750ml brut champagne

1 quart sparkling water

Mixed berries, orange slices for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Dissolve sugar in burgundy in punch bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Serve over ice.


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