The Ultimate Crowd-Pleaser Knockout Bourbon Punch

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Make this punch once and it’s the only recipe you’ll need for future holiday events. The combination of bourbon, Madeira, ginger, cranberry, lemon, cinnamon, and even some nutmeg makes for a spicy holiday warmer that always seems to disappear, no matter the number of party attendees.

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I’d love to say I whipped this recipe up myself, but instead I deferred to the expertise of Adam Bernbach, head barman of 2 Birds 1 Stone who designed this amazing recipe exclusively for Garden & Gun Magazine.

I’m sharing the way I make the recipe below with a few very slight modifications to the delicious original. Two things before you start mixing your way to holiday punch heaven:

  1. There is one step to do the day before you make the punch.
    It’s easy. You just have to toast some cinnamon sticks in a pan and put them into a bottle of bourbon. Do not miss this step. It makes a HUGE difference in the flavor of the resulting libation.
  2. The recipe calls for Malmsey Madeira.
    Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands. It is produced in a variety of styles, ranging from dry to sweet and is generally sipped alone as an aperitif or dessert beverage depending on the style. Malmsey Madeira is the richest and sweetest style of Madeira and is made with Malvasia grapes. You should be able to find Malmsey Madeira at pretty much any wine store—the least expensive variety I could find locally was around $27, but it’s worth it once you taste the drink. Also, you won’t use the entire bottle—even if you make a double batch of the punch as I suggest—so you’ll have some left to sample and enjoy.

Now, without further ado:

Bourbon Knockout Punch
Adapted from Garden & Gun, view original recipe

Ingredients:

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1 grocery store spice-rack-sized container of cinnamon sticks or 8 cinnamon sticks, toasted
1 750ml bottle of bourbon (the last time I made this I used Evan Williams and it turned out tasty. If you are doubling the recipe, you can still use the same amount of cinnamon sticks and a 1.75 liter bottle of bourbon and the cinnamon flavor will still be noticeable. The extra bit of bourbon won’t hurt anyone either!)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 oz. ginger juice, I used Ginger People Ginger Juice which can also be found at Whole Foods
4 oz. lemon juice
4 oz. unsweetened cranberry juice
6 oz. Malmsey Madeira (see note above)
24 oz. sparkling or soda water
1 whole nutmeg nut (whole nutmeg can generally be found in the spice aisle of any grocery store or online)

For garnish:
1 bag fresh cranberries
1-2 oranges, sliced

Preparation:

The day before serving:
To toast the cinnamon sticks, place in a nonstick skillet over low to medium-low heat and heat until warm to the touch and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Once toasted, put into bourbon. Allow to sit overnight. Arrange cranberries and orange slices in a Bundt pan (or whatever type of pan you choose—I just think the Bundt creates a pretty ring) and fill with water. Freeze overnight to create an ice ring to keep the punch cold and to add eye appeal.

 

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Prior to serving:
Strain the bourbon to remove cinnamon. Stir sugar into the juices until it is completely dissolved. Pour juice/sugar blend, Madeira, and cinnamon-infused bourbon into a punch bowl and stir. If you are bringing the drink to a party, do this in a pitcher. Just before serving, add punch, ice ring and club soda to a punch bowl and stir again.

 

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Grate a healthy amount of fresh nutmeg (about a quarter of the whole) on top (I use a Microplane grater for this). Depending on the size of the punch bowl, you can also put out half the punch and top with club soda then refill as necessary throughout the evening.

 

 

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