Photo by Kelly Puleio
Whether or not you string festive garlands of cranberries to trim your Christmas tree, you’ll want to grab a bag or two to make this wintry punch from Laura Newman of Queen’s Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Pairing the tangy fruit with Scotch—plus oolong tea that’s been steeped forever—gives a whisper of smoke and a bitter, malty edge to the drink. The peat level, of course, will depend on the Scotch you choose; if you’re going with a more neutral blended whiskey, you may want to include an ounce or two of something smokier. Batch it up a few days ahead, then call your whiskey-loving friends and spend your preparty time making the ultimate Bing Crosby playlist. If you’d like to double the recipe, it makes a pretty punch bowl.
- 12 servings
- 2 1/4 cups Scotch (such as Dewar’s White Label)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons Angostura bitters
- 2 cups chilled extra-strong oolong
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled cranberry syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- Extra-strong oolong:
- 2 cups water
- 6 oolong tea bags
- Cranberry syrup:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon Scotch (optional)
- To serve:
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 8 lemon wheels
- At least 2 hours and up to 2 days before serving, make the batch.
- Pour Scotch, bitters, chilled extra-strong oolong, chilled cranberry syrup, and water into a 2-quart pitcher and stir to mix. Seal well, covering with plastic wrap if needed, and refrigerate.
- Up to 2 hours before serving, prepare lemon juice and stir into pitcher mix. Reseal and return to refrigerator if not serving immediately.
- To serve, stir mixture well, then garnish pitcher with cranberries and lemon wheels. Pour into ice-filled teacups.
- In a small lidded saucepan, bring water to a bare simmer over medium-high heat. As soon as you spot the first bubble, add tea bags, cover pan, remove from heat, and let steep for 8 to 10 hours. Strain, seal, and refrigerate until chilled or for up to 2 days.
- Cranberry syrup:
- Combine water, sugar, and cranberries in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. When cranberries begin to pop, use a wooden spoon to crush them against side of pan and remove pan from heat. Let cool to room temperature, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a resealable container, pressing on solids to extract all remaining liquid. (Don’t discard the cooked fruit! It’s great over yogurt or ice cream.) If storing syrup more than a few days, stir in Scotch. Refrigerate until chilled or for up to 2 weeks.
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