Last night, I had my Spice Up Your Holidays get together. This time of year is really crazy, and I have been traveling a ton so I wanted to do something small, relaxed, and serve things that I could make ahead of time so that I could actually enjoy my guests and not get stressed out about it. I love having a big and festive party, but I also really love having something laid back and cozy.
For the drink portion of the contest, I wanted to make a rum punch. I was looking around for a great punch recipe, and could not find one that had everything that I wanted in it. So, I took the things that I liked about a few recipes and made my own version. I wanted some spice that would go well with the Captain Morgan, citrus be the main fruit component, and not have it be cloyingly sweet. This my friends, was a winner. I heard Martha Stewart speak awhile back and someone asked her what she thinks that she makes really well, she said without hesitation – a cocktail. She said that the key to her cocktails is to always use fresh juice. And wouldn’t you know, Martha is on to something. It really makes a huge difference. If you do not have the time, I promise that it will still be great with bottled juice. If you want, you can squeeze everything earlier in the day and simply pour it all together right before you serve it.
Think of this as a citrus sangria. It is so beautiful that it you do not need another thing on the table for decoration. And seriously, how fun is the name? You don’t just have to serve this during the holiday season, but if you do, I expect the party to be festive and full of good cheer. A true step up from the Jungle Juice of days gone by. You know what I am talking about, don’t judge.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup Citrus Sugar
1 cup lime juice
1 cup lemon juice
2 cups orange juice
1 cup grapefruit juice
1 cup mango nectar
1 cup pineapple juice
3 3/4 cups Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
2 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 1/2 cups Amaretto
3 cups sparkling water
orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit slices, frozen cranberries for garnish
This is a terrible iPhone picture of an ice ring that I started the night before. I just filled a container with slices of fruit and cranberries and let it freeze solid. This prevents the punch from getting watery by adding a lot of ice cubes, and it looks pretty.
Make the citrus sugar by combining the sugar, zests, ginger and cinnamon. Rub the zest between your fingers to release the oils. Let sit at room temperature for 4 hours or up to a a few days in an airtight container.
Peel the skins off of the fruit and juice. Just an aside, I love this juicer. I attempted to do a juice cleanse, turns out making juice for boozy drinks is more my speed.
I squeeze everything ahead of time and put in a pitcher. I keep it icy cold in the fridge. Just give it a shake before you pour it into the punch bowl. I also do the same with the liquors too. I like everything to be really cold.
Another trick that I picked up recently was from food stylist extraordinaire, Tami Hardeman, do not use soap on glass for photos, but white vinegar. No streaks! Worked like a charm.
Make the punch by adding the sugar to the bottom on the punch bowl.
Pour in the juice and stir to start to dissolve the sugar.
Pour in the alcohol. And the sparkling water.
Remember the ice ring we made? Dip the bottom of the container in some water for about 10 seconds. The ice should pop right out.
Add the ice ring to the punch to keep everything nice and cold.
Garnish with frozen cranberries and fruit slices. Give it a taste, just to make sure that it tastes okay and is balanced. Or to just because you want to.