Apple Cider and Bourbon Punch
Freshly pressed, unfiltered apple cider is one of the great pleasures of fall in Minnesota. Unlike the golden apple juice available all year round, cider has a wonderful, murky depth; it’s just as sweet, tart and complex as the apples themselves. It’s no wonder that, like the great pumpkin, it turns up in everything from cinnamon-sugar dusted donuts to glossy cider-glazed pork roasts. But we love it best in a glass — hot, cold, and, yes, boozy.
This bourbon punch is like a harvest celebration. It’s made with an autumnal simple syrup of brown sugar and cinnamon. Its rich spice brings out all the sweet, low notes in the apple cider and the bourbon. To balance out those sugars, we add a bunch of bright citrus to the punch pitcher. A little time in the fridge, a little nutmeg, and you’ve got a flavorsome, deeply soothing, almost curative punch — the kind of easy sipper you can work on all night and never get tired of it.
Punch is always great for a party. It’s as convivial and special as a signature cocktail, but it’s a lot easier to serve — you can make a couple of batches ahead, and your guests can serve themselves. No shaker needed! With its warm spice, this punch will be perfect for any sort of fall celebration, from a housewarming to a rowdy night of games in front of the fire. Sunday night football? Sure thing.
For the brown sugar and cinnamon syrup:
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup water
For the punch:
½ cup brown sugar and cinnamon syrup
3 cups bourbon
4 cups unfiltered apple cider
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup orange juice
4 cups ice
2 cups club soda, or to taste
1 orange, cut into wheels, for garnish
Nutmeg, to taste
- To make the syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar and cinnamon sticks with 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until the sugar has completely dissolved, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool. Discard the cinnamon sticks. (Leftover syrup may be kept refrigerated for a week.)
- Combine the syrup, bourbon, apple cider, lemon juice and orange juice in a pitcher. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Strain the chilled punch into a punch bowl. Add 4 cups of ice and club soda. Garnish with orange wheels. Generously grate nutmeg on top. Serve over ice.
Recipe source: The New York Times