The One-Two Punch


So, here it is, the Friday before Halloween, guests are due at some point over the course of the weekend and you’re still not exactly sure what beverage to serve them.

Oh, sure, there’s the usual soda and stuff, but maybe you want something a little more festive. Still, there will be kids or others who don’t drink alcohol, and you don’t want to leave them out. But you also don’t want to have to monitor two beverage stations over the course of a night, either!

Is there an easy solution to this dilemma? Absolutely.

Punch to the Rescue!

Vampire Punch with Clots

Vampire Punch, with Clots!

Early punches contained 5 ingredients–some sort of alcohol, sugar, juiced lemons, water and tea or spices–and gets it’s name from the Hindi word pañc, which means five. Has nothing to do with boxing or being so strong it knocks you on your ass. A little bit of trivia for you, there.

These days, punch can be as simple as a couple of fruit juices and a 2-liter of clear(ish) soda. Add some sherbet in a complementary color of flavor and you’ve got plenty of festive going on.

For example, for 2007’s BYOP I served the delightfully-named Vampire Punch (with Clots!). Yes, there is a raspberry sherbet “brain” bobbing around in there and the clots? They’re a package of frozen strawberries, partially thawed and stirred into the punch. Effectively gross and very tasty.

And the punch bowl? It’s a cake dome and stand! You flip the platter over and the dome settles into the stand, making a  serving bowl. It’s perfect for a medium-sized punch bowl (just add a ladle). I love items that can pull double duty without taking up more space than necessary in my kitchen!

But What About the Adults?

Not that all adults drink alcohol, but for those who do, here’s that simple solution I promised you.

Start with a basic punch base that can then be combined on a per-drink basis with the alcohol of your choice.

See, I told you it was simple.

The only sticky part is which liquor to use with the punch? But I’ve got you covered, there, too!

If Your Punch Flavor is Mostly… Think This… …and Use That!
Berry Juices
(Cranberry, Blueberry, etc.)
Gin & Cranberry
or a Fruity Martini
Gin or Vodka
Tree Fruits
(Apple, Pear,  etc.)
Mulled Cider Spiced Rum
or Brandy
Citrus Juice
(orange, lemon, lime, etc.)
Mimosas or
Sparkling Wine
or Tequila

Pineapple juice is the wild-card, of course. A pineapple-based punch could go the tropical route withe Spiced Rum but it so often hangs out with the Citrus family that Tequila wouldn’t go amiss, there, either. Use your best judgment on that one.

This Year’s Punch

For tomorrow’s party, my inspiration comes in part from the aforementioned Vampire Punch as well as the amazing Blueberry-Pomegranate Martinis we had at the Chef’s Sampler last year. Though the latter, we figured later, was probably made from a mix, we were able to recreate it after several trials (more about that in the next series, by the way).

So, tomorrow I’ll be mixing up a dispenser full of cran-pomegranate juice (much cheaper than straight pom, and when you’re serving a crown that’s important!) and blueberry juices and topping it off with ginger ale (club soda or your preferred clear soda would also do just fine, I just like the zing of ginger in there). We’re calling it Blue Blood Punch.

For those that want, I’ll be happy to put some in a shaker with ice and a shot of vanilla vodka and serve them a Blue Blood Martini for their troubles.


Have a Happy–and SAFE!–Halloween, folks! As always, drink responsibly and use a designated driver: we want you around for next year!

Random Appetites: Vampire Punch… with Clots!


Ghoulishly delicious!

At last year’s Pumpkin Party I went with a decidedly more spooky, classic Halloween theme that I usually opt for (the norm being general Fallishness). Along with some spookier food choices, I served this very yummy, if slightly gross, punch. It’s alcohol free, as well, so all y’all non-alky readers can enjoy without impediment:

Vampire Punch with Floating Clots
originally from Today’s Parent

1 Quart Red Grape Juice
2 Cups Orange Juice
2 Cups Pineapple Juice
1 Bottle Gingerale
1 Box frozen Strawberries, semi-defrosted

Chill all ingredients ahead of time to prevent diluting the punch with melting ice later on. Mix together the fruit juices and then, just before serving, add in the Gingerale and the strawberries. This works best in a big punch bowl, of course, so that guests get the real impact of the floating strawberry “clots.”

That’s the punch, nice and simple.

But down here in the South we have this glorious tradition of party punches served up with sherbet in the center–not only does it help to keep the punch cold but it adds sweetness and creaminess. In fact, if you sub the red grape juice for white and ditch the OJ, you’ve got the base of the punch served at almost every wedding I went to as a child. And since sherbet comes in so very many colors, it can match just about any wedding theme!

Back to the party: since I had a close-cousin to party punch anyway and I just couldn’t ignore my raising and had to add sherbet. Now, I could have just hacked up a pint into the punch bowl but that’s not very elegant, now is it? Instead, I found one of those plastic brain molds (though a heart would work wonderfully for this punch as well, either in sherbet or red jello) and filled it with raspberry sherbet a couple of days before the party. To make it easy to remove I lined the mold with plastic wrap which ended up adding some additional texture to the sherbet when unmolded and set adrift in the punchbowl.

Talk about a brain freeze!

Finally, for those wanting a bit more kick to their punch, you could add a few healthy shots of Chambord or Cointreau to the punch bowl and substitute champagne (not Brut! too biting, even for this recipe!) for all or part of the Gingerale for an adult Vampire tipple. Don’t substitute wine for grape-juice, though, unless it’s a very sweet red from Concord grapes or the tannins will likely overpower the rest of the ingredients.

Happy Halloween, folks. Have a safe and fun one!