Thanksgiving Apple Cider Brandy Punch

Thanksgiving Apple Cider PunchYeah, we know. Why didn’t we tell you about this a few days ago? It turns out that we were enjoying this punch so much, typing became difficult. This punch is easy to make and, as test results from Thanksgiving indicate, enjoyed by all. Even those who don’t usually partake in Thanksgiving cheer. If you know what I mean . . .

The punch is dominated by the apple cider that is its main ingredient, but it’s balanced with the brandy and cava/prosecco/champagne or other sparkling white wine that you choose. The flavors of the wine and spirits are nicely balanced and the added fruit and spices give it a real holiday feel. This is certainly a good punch for Christmas as well. Or, for that matter, celebrating any Wednesday or a new episode of your favorite television show.

Thanksgiving Apple Cider Brandy Punch Recipe

  • 1-1/2 Apples
  • 1 Handful whole Cranberries
  • 2 Cups Apple Cider
  • 1/2 Cup Brandy (I used VS Cognac, feel free to aim lower)
  • 750ml (1 bottle) of chilled Cava/Prosecco/Champagne or other sparkling white wine).
  • Fresh nutmeg
  • Cinnamon

Core the apples and dice into matchstick style pieces. This is an aesthetic choice. If you like cubes, thin slices or origami-apple doves, go for it.

Place the apple in a pitcher and add the cranberries. Then add the cider, brandy and the bottle of bubbly. Throw in a handful of ice cubes for good measure and stir.

Finally, grate the nutmeg into the pitcher – a little goes a long way – and add a few pinches of cinnamon to the punch and stir again. You’re ready to go.

Why You’ll Like Thanksgiving Apple Cider Brandy Punch
This is a tasty punch that works for many people. It’s not overly boozy and doesn’t have the impact of the red wine-based punches which are much more common. Still, it’s delicious, not too sweet and exudes the smells of the season. As an added plus, it’s super esy to make. Maybe 10 minutes, including the dissection of the apples.

You may want to double-down on the Brandy and try this with Calvados or Laird’s Apple Brandy instead.

Be prepared with extra apples and sparkling wine, this stuff will go fast.

Note: this is far from a Consumatorium original. It’s our take on many of the lighter holiday punch recipes that can be found on the ‘net.

Infusion Lessons

With all the success Will has had making infusions, I figured “how hard could it be,” and endeavored to do some tests with Colorado’s favorite fruit, the Palisade Peach. In particular I decided to try infusing several different base liquors with peaches at the height of the season (late August), when they are at their peak of juicy and tasty magic.

This is the infusion experiment after putting the peaches and liquor in the jars.

This is the infusion experiment after putting the peaches and liquor in the jars.

I thought a side-by-side comparison was a good idea. It really wasn't.

I thought a side-by-side comparison was a good idea. It really wasn’t.

Following the guidance on Will’s posts, I cut up the peaches and put them in each of four labeled Mason jars (which worked well), with Rum, Tequila, Vodka, and Gin. Note that I used well-quality liquor since I figured the infusion would overwhelm the fineness of more expensive brands. I let them infuse for 11 days, and filtered out the peaches using a funnel and some cheesecloth. So far, so good. My original plan was to do a taste comparison test just to see how they different from the original they tasted. I started with the vodka and immediately decided it was not really such a great idea. Even when chilled, it just tasted boozy. I also noticed that the peach flavor was not very strong, even in the vodka.

This simple cocktail with vodka, vermouth, and Lillet was drinkable but not amazing.

This simple cocktail with vodka, vermouth, and Lillet was drinkable but not amazing.

Then I realized the second of my errors. I had not really thought at all about what cocktails I would make with these infusions. I just thought it would be great to infuse with those wonderful peaches. I realized that I did not want to make strongly flavored cocktails, because it would overwhelm the peach. Simply drinking the infusions straight, but giving it a good shake to make it cold, was one option. This worked well for the rum and tequila, but not for the vodka or gin. Then I tried a martini-like cocktail with the vodka. It was ok, but not wonderful.

This Perfect Martini using the peach-infused gin was very good.

This Perfect Martini using the peach-infused gin was very good.

The Queen's cocktail always needs a little something to make it interesting, and the peach infusion did the trick.

The Zaza always needs a little something extra to make it interesting, and the peach infusion did the trick.

After trying the rum straight and enjoying it, I made a daiquiri using the peach infusion. That was pretty nice. The peach flavor was only barely noticeable, but that’s ok, it did have that “synthesis” feel to it. I also tried a perfect Martini with the gin (very good) and then most recently, a Zaza (a.k.a., the Queen’s Cocktail). That was a terrific use for it, as it is a cocktail that needs some extra twist to be really good.

So, a summary of the lessons I learned:

  • It really is easy to make an infusion, and you don’t have to do it in large volumes.
  • Think about the cocktails you’re going to make with it beforehand. This helps you think about what to infuse (including both the liquor and the ingredient) and how long to infuse it.
  • Don’t bother with side-by-side comparisons. Just drink the infusion straight and very cold if you want to see what the pure flavor is like.

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