To quote maybe every other person right now, “it’s been quite a year, right?” So much emotion! So much drama! Never the less we’re here, hopefully gathering around a table with a bunch of family to reconnect, catch up, etc.. But as beautiful as the idea of family togetherness is, 10-12 extended family members sitting around a table doesn’t exactly lend an air of relaxing contemplation, shoulder lowering, and cleansing oneself of this blown out year. What you need is a drink.
In fact, everyone at the table needs a drink. That’s because nothing brings people together and yields common ground quite like alcohol. So, some beers? Some nice wine?No, those are good for any other day, but today has special needs. Some cocktails? Maybe, be we ain’t got time to mix here… we want to have a taste and get to having fun with the fam. Can we consider punch?
Punch: bad in reputation, great in communal comradery. It’s a level playing field of you, that family you see once a year, and a bowl to drink out of until you’re silly enough not to talk about silly things, like politics.
Yes, you might end up with a gruff uncle who laughs at your perhaps pink concoction. But just shove a ladle-full his way and see that Trump frown turn upside down.
In terms of taste and reputation, punch doesn’t have to have a silly name (like Skip and go Naked), or be heavy with sugar or other hangover-inducing stuff. You’re just making a big batch of your drink of choice. For the holidays, you can go with spiced and cinnamon and all those flavors, or go spicy, which warms the body without the scented candle aftertaste. Or, go tropical, which always feels fun. Here’s one of my favorites, the coquito, which is like a tropical eggnog.
- 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
- Whole cloves (8-10)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 (15 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup white rum (more or less)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
Bring evaporated milk, cloves and cinnamon stick to boil in saucepan. Remove from heat and steep for 30 minutes. Strain and throw away the solids. Let cool.
Then, place your spiced milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, rum, egg yolks, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in blender and blend until fully combined and foamy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Serve chilled and dust with additional cinnamon and nutmeg.
If that doesn’t strike you, again, just make a giant batch of your drink of choice: preferably with something acidic, something sweet, and something with booze to start. Oh, and if you want something carbonated, just serve it on the side instead of mixing it in, because bubbles and large bowls don’t mix and you’ll have a flat bowl of weirdness. And no matter what, make sure everyone has a glass before sitting down. Your night will see an upswing, I’d bet.—Paul Brewer