Pleased as Punch

The holiday season is fast approaching, and we’re so brimming with excitement that we’ve concocted a trio of tasty delights that cannot be contained within a single shaker or serving. Get your ice molds in order and dig out that ornate bowl and ladle for your next party, because there’s a VIP guest that should definitely be on the list: punch!

The first documented evidence of punch dates back to the early seventeenth century, brought about by the Indian Ocean’s warm temperatures—they caused the beer in the cargo bays of British East India Company ships to quickly spoil en route! Searching the surrounding native flavors for a drink more resilient to the elements, sailors turned to a large-format concoction composed of a balanced mixture of ingredients.

Spirit, sugar, acid, water, and spice made up the original formula for punch (this five-letter word—from the Hindi panj—itself translates to “five”). Soon it was adapted all over the world, with the five components expanding to accommodate the far reaches of one’s imagination. In Korea they serve up sujeonggwa; in Germany they toast with punsch; it’s called bål in Sweden; arrack in the Middle East; and on and on the punch bowl turns.

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This month’s recipes dress up a two-bottle combination of flavored vodka and dry sparkling wine into exceptional accompaniments for frosty-weather fun. This is the box for you and your festive band of revelers to enjoy throughout a month of special celebrations, leading to a big blowout on New Year’s Eve (if you can wait that long!). And batching the bowl in advance gives you the chance to step out from behind the bar for an effortless holiday hosting performance.

We’re Pleased as Punch to get you chilling and stirring three delicious large-format cocktails (each recipe yields a small punch bowl containing 4–6 servings each) that will be making spirits bright at your next winter bash! Subscribe now through November 30th to get yours—it’ll ship the week of December 3th.

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Cranberries are no stranger to the holiday table. Sure, you can enjoy them in a sauce, stuffing, or confection—but there’s another format in which the berries truly shine. Any guesses? Laurie Harvey knows the answer, and her Sweater Weather punch is packed full of the tart and sweet fruit. Its eponymous shrub carries a subtle tang and citrus accents while boasting loudly the flavors of cranberry and warm winter spices. This is an assertive and vigorous punch meticulously engineered for the coziest of environments—grab a sweater and get thee to the nearest fireplace.

Laurie has been designing cocktail programs as a consultant for notable bars and restaurants in Houston for 10 years. She wants everyone to have access to high-quality, delicious cocktails, including those imbibing at home!

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Step into this lush, romantic garden as dusk slowly turns to dark, roses and hibiscus brightly bloom, and trees sway in the breeze adorned with citrus of every kind. Robert Sickler has plucked only the best from such a landscape for his invigorating and aromatic Mediterranean Sunset punch. An oleo saccharum you’ll make from grapefruit peel and sugar delivers an added complexity to the mix of vodka, sparkling wine, citrus, and hibiscus, and a finishing spritz of rose water opens the gate to a villa of your very own.

A lifelong veteran of the drinks industry, Robert is currently co-owner and beverage director at Finn’s Manor, a cocktail bar and food truck pod in Denver. He is also a licensed instructor of the Whisky Ambassador Course, the world’s first accredited whisky training program.

For some behind-the-scenes tidbits from Robert on his work and his travels, the stories of some of his cocktails, and all about his punch (plus recommendations for food and music to pair with it!), check out our interview.

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We’ve heard of Christmas in July, but how about an island escape in December?! Hop aboard Betsy McLeod and Jon Paupard’s seafaring vessel for a tour that leads away from the frosty air to a little slice of paradise. And with their Ginger Grant punch flowing, why even stress about the remote possibility of a shipwreck? Pineapple and banana are the pillars of this bubbly brew and warm baking spices link it all back to the holiday season. Take a turn for the tropical and perk up your ears as the carols slowly give way to the soothing sounds of the ukulele.

Jon and Betsy are a couple who met on the San Francisco cocktail scene. Together they run a cocktail catering business called Blackwater Affair. Jon is also the bar manager at Runway Spirits inside the Hangar 1 distillery, and Betsy curates the cocktail program at Onsen and bartends at Horsefeather.

Our box this month is no joke—but when your guests see all the deliciousness going on, the punch line will be long (*ba-dum-tshh*!). Stir it up, set it out, and let’s all be Pleased as Punch this holiday season!

❄️🌹🍍,
The Shaker & Spoon Team

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