In Good Spirits

Punches with Fall Flair

By Charlene Oldham | Photography courtesy of Lemon Tree Dwelling

Regardless of their team’s record, everyone can look forward to at least one bowl this football season – the punch bowl.

Punch is a perfect party drink for tailgating season because the host can mix up a big batch before kickoff and leave guests to refill their own glasses. This simple apple pie punch recipe, developed by Becky Hardin, founder of The Cookie Rookie blog, also comes together so quickly that you could stir up a second batch during halftime.
This recipe is also versatile because it’s delicious with or without vodka and easy to double if you want to spike one batch and omit alcohol from the other. Serve this punch over ice; for those fortunate football fans whose teams are playing in bowl games come December, you can warm the punch on a stovetop.

Apple Pie Punch
1 apple, chopped or sliced with the seeds and stem removed
1-quart apple cider
2 cups pear nectar (Available online)
24 ounces ginger ale
1.5 ounces apple pie vodka or caramel vodka (if desired)
per individual serving or 1-to-1.5 cups for a full batch

Combine apple cider, pear nectar, ginger ale and vodka. Stir well. Place the apple slices inside the pitcher or punch bowl.
Serve over ice or pour all the liquid ingredients in a saucepan to warm over low heat before adding the apple slices. Serve warm punch in mugs.

September 20 is also National Punch Day, and you might like to celebrate with something sophisticated. David Rich, owner and head distiller at Rich Grain Distilling Company in Canton, Mississippi, offers this recipe that features fall flavors and one rather unexpected ingredient:

1 bottle Rich Grain Distilling Co. Spiced Rum
24 ounces apple cider
12 ounces ginger simple syrup (See recipe below)
6 ounces lime juice
2 12-ounce bottles wheat pilsner beer (Blue Moon or similar)
Apple slices for garnish

Ginger Simple Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2-inch piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped or ¼ cup peels if using a vegetable peeler

For simple syrup, heat water up to a boil and turn heat to a simmer. Stir in sugar until fully dissolved. Add ginger and simmer about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool for at least an hour. Strain ginger particles, then combine with the other ingredients. This recipe makes about three quarts of punch.
“You can garnish each cup with a cinnamon stick, star anise pods or apple slices and you can float star anise and apple slices on the top of the punch for decoration,” Rich says. “For an added flavor enhancement, a small handful of morel mushrooms can be soaked in the spiced rum overnight. This won’t give a strong mushroom flavor to the drink but will instead increase the umami – also known as savory – sensation. The flavors will last and linger much longer.”

Read More in DeSoto Magazine online.