A Very Festive Holiday Punch

Punch Bowl
A vintage punch bowl such as this one will complete the scene.

There's nothing particularly retro or mid-century about the recipe I'm about to share with you (except for the fact that it's punch, maybe?), but it's one of my holiday favorites for reasons I think fit the spirit of Eichler living.

It comes from my friend Bryant Musgrove, husband of artist Megan Berk, who you may remember from the Fall 2009 CA-Modern story. Like many people around this time of year, Megan and Bryant throw a holiday party for their friends and neighbors. Every time I go I bring deviled eggs, but the mainstay of these parties is Bryant's holiday punch, which I have come to associate with good cheer, camaraderie, and a few stern headaches.

I guess the main reason I think this recurring shindig (and the concoction that fuels it) gibes with the Eichler life is that it works as a get-together for the neighbors: A time for folks who live nearby but see little of each other to spend some purely social hours within a short walk of home, just as they might have done as the giddy first wave of a new subdivision. And in classic mid-century fashion, to drink enough cocktails that that walk home becomes a stagger.

Essentially, Bryant tells me, his mixture is a version of Esquire's recipe for spread eagle punch, which in turn comes from the book Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, by David Wondrich. It involves scotch, Canadian whiskey (or rye), sugar, and citrus. Bryant's variation is to add some bitters, introduce a variety of citrus, and use VO and Black and White scotch – though you could surely change up the liquor brands.

Since I've only had Bryant's version, that's the recipe I'm going to give you. I think you'll enjoy it too. It's a great way to offer refreshments to a group without having to play bartender all night. Just make sure to keep track of how many glasses you're drinking, because it sneaks up on you.

The recipe:

1.75 liter bottle of Seagrams VO

1.75 liter bottle of Black and White scotch

Peel of one lemon and one orange

4-6 ounces demerara sugar

2-3 quarts boiling water


Muddle the sugar, citrus peels, and bitters in a punch bowl and let the mixture sit for half an hour. Pour in half a quart of the boiling water to dissolve the sugar, then add the whiskey. Add more water to dilute the mixture as desired, and remove the peels before serving.

You can serve this punch hot, but I've always had it chilled, with a big block of ice in the center of the bowl (don't use ice cubes, if you can avoid it, as they'll melt too fast). A garnish of lemon and orange wheels looks nice and will let you use up the rest of your fruit.

Happy Holidays!